Dear 13-Year-Old Me, Who's About to Undergo Her Fourth Open Heart Surgery

Dear Nicole (ver. 2002),

I know you’re probably going through a hard time right now, but you don’t show it to anyone. I know during the summer you will have to have your fourth open heart surgery for your new mechanical mitral valve and just to let you know, it will be the last one you will have for at least 15 years (that’s how old we are now).

I can’t believe you are going into eighth grade; yes, it will be tough, but you are tougher. You got through open heart surgery and you had a few ups and downs, but just know your family went to the ends of the earth to make you feel better. Please remember to thank them more for me. Please thank Uncle Jay and Sarah for going up there and bringing all the things that helped you get through that second wave of sickness after the surgery. Make sure you call them and try to see them more… you’re going to miss him.

When the summer winds down you’ll get to go back to Boys and Girls club but it will be different for you, and you’ll always feel different. Just remember you are stronger than they will ever know and you really don’t have to explain yourself to them. There will be kids who tease you about your new scar and about the weight you gained over the summer on steroids. But please don’t cry; it’s OK. I mean, I know you’re going to cry, but then move on. Make the time you have count.

old picture of a girl about to have her fourth open heart surgery

On a final note, the clicking doesn’t get better for a while…sorry to say. It will be just as loud as it is for at least a year. Even in college (you’ll get there and you’ll have a blast…a story for another time), your roommates will wake you up because they think there is a bomb in the apartment. Don’t worry, your stories with them will only get funnier, wilder and sometimes sadder through the years.

Please stay well and please keep your head and heart up.

With all my love,

Nicole (ver. 2017)

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