Why I'm Forgiving Congenital Heart Disease for Imposing on My Life

Congenital heart disease (CHD) does not know limits. Medical bills are horrendous and the toll it takes on the body is exhausting. Congenital heart disease is always there reminding me that I can never live without it; that I can never have a moment that is just mine. There is no magical fort I can hid in and be “normal” and I can never win a game of hide and seek against it. There are pills that suppress the symptoms and more medicine to suppress the side effects of the medicine that suppresses the symptom, but no pill to suppress CHD. People tend to ask or even assume that surgery cures this disease, but it doesn’t – it just makes it livable.

I can go on about how it never gets better, how life sucks with it and how I will never know what it’s like to be healthy, but that’s not productive. That mindset is what leads into the unrealistic thoughts of a parallel universe that just doesn’t exist, and leaves the taste of disappointment in the mouth of those that believe it. What I can do is forgive it. Forgive CHD for taking away any normalcy my life might run into, for never letting me go, for canceling on my friends, for ruining more semesters in college than not, and for making excuses on its account. I cannot forget it, but I can forgive it.

As it tries to stand my way, I invite it walk beside me. I can love it for making me who I am, I can thank it for making me care for others more than myself, and I can be blessed that it has not taken my life. I can hold onto CHD like a blanket from my childhood, where I find solace in knowing that it is always there, and that I will always fight for it. Because of CHD I have had many trials and have found myself close to death, but I have also had some of the best experiences of my life. Congenital heart disease has given me a family of brothers and sisters that are going through different battles, but fighting the same war as I am. It has given me summers of fun at a camp that was made for kids like me, it has let me advocate for it to thousands of people, and it has helped me find happiness in the darkness.

Yes, CHD sucks. It never goes away and I will always fall victim to its antics, but it has given me so much more than it has taken away from me.  This is the perspective I choose to take, the one that lets me forgive it for imposing on my life, and cherish it for what it is. I literally have nothing to compare it to because I haven’t lived in a parallel universe where it doesn’t exist, so I might as well take it for what it is. Life.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Congenital Heart Defect/Disease

Why I'm Thankful for the Friends of My Son With Congenital Heart Disease

My 12-year-old son just passed the six month anniversary of his fourth open-heart surgery (fifth surgery overall). Last week we took a road trip from Tampa, FL (where we live) to Cooperstown, NY where he played in a week long baseball tournament with his best friends. It was a once in a lifetime experience he talked about [...]

Anxiety and Depression Are More Than Just Side Effects of Chronic Illness

I want to talk about something that is almost taboo, especially if you already have a preexisting illness – and that’s mental illness. It can be hard to admit it might not just be a “bad day,” especially when you have a bad week and you can’t get out of bed. It can be hard [...]
woman hanging on to street lamp in new york city

Please Don't Call Me 'Brave' for Living With Congenital Heart Disease

Nothing about this is brave, it’s a matter of survival. Hearing people say “You’re so brave” has always made me feel uncomfortable… like what choice did I have? I was talking to one of my friends who has a different congenital disease and we don’t understand why people say it to us. Those who had a [...]
three friends taking a selfie on a pier

What I Want My Friends to Know as Someone With a Congenital Heart Defect

Typically I don’t mention that whole heart condition thing unless I’m really close to the person. I found out the hard way that people sometimes treat you differently once they know. They act like you are weak and can’t do anything. Instead of asking if you need help they assume you do. Or they stop [...]