“A strong person knows how to keep their life in order.
Even with tears in their eyes they still manage to say “I’m ok” with a smile.”
I was a little nervous about entering a new decade in my life, the big 3-0. This was the first decade I actually entered healthy. And when I say healthy, I mean there were no major hospital visits, surgeries, tests, or other type of treatment I was in the middle of. My life from four days until about age 27 was a swirl of doctors, surgeries, extended hospital stays, ER visits and follow-up appointments. I was born with a rare heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). It was classified as a congenital heart defect (CHD) and according to the Children’s Heart Foundation “Fact Sheet” about 40,000 babies are born with CHD in the U.S., and nearly 1,000,000 born each year worldwide. Thousands die before their first birthday and even more die before they reach adulthood. However, there are the lucky ones, like me, that make it past their first birthday and well into adulthood. It wasn’t an easy or smooth journey to get where I am, but I made it in one piece so to speak (of course with the exception of four heart repair surgeries, a heart transplant and a kidney transplant).
Before even realizing the strength I was born with to fight for my existence, it was there and saved my life. If you asked my mom what I was like when I was a baby and then a toddler the first thing she would tell you was that I had a set of lungs on me and that I was stubborn. You might think the first thing that she might say was that I was a sick baby with a very severe heart condition. I grew up knowing that I was different because of my heart condition, but I wasn’t brought up with that defining me as a person. It was a part of me, but it wasn’t all of me.
Who am I? I am still trying to figure that part out. But what I do know is that I am just trying to make a place for myself in this world and I was given this life path, my family and my friends to support and love me no matter what.