The Challenges I Faced and Gifts I Received in My 29th Year With CHD


Dear Year 29,

Woah! Have you been one heck of a year! You have challenged me in so many ways. Yet, at the same time, you gave me several gifts I would have never learned without you.

Within your year, I had heart failure, multiple changes in my medications with adverse effects and countless trips to the ER. I was poked and prodded. I had a heart catheterization and a liver biopsy. I found out that the right side of my liver is essentially dead, full of scar tissue. Thankfully, the left side of my liver has compensated for the lack of my right, but still has nodules and onset cirrhosis that we need to continue watching. I had a constant struggle with bloating and water retention for half the year, landing me in the hospital for days. I was diagnosed with protein-losing enteropathy and because of this diagnosis, I have to get albumin infusions monthly. Can’t forget to mention the monthly visits to the anticoagulation clinic to check on my INR levels. And because of all the latest declines, my doctor even suggested starting the conversation about heart transplant.

While I am more than ready to kiss you goodbye, I can’t leave without saying thank you for the gifts you have given me.

You have given me the gift of appreciation. For so many years in my life, I have always been chasing the next best thing. I was never fully satisfied. When I was having all these medical challenges, my mind started to shift. I began to appreciate more. I have been able to slow down and be in the moment. I have been able to wake up each morning and be mindful of all my surroundings and the blessings I have.

You have given me the gift of refinement. I have had to find strength this year that I didn’t even know existed. You refined my ability to advocate for my own health. You have refined my ability to balance acceptance of my current circumstances while also fighting for my future.

You have given me the gift of perspective. I compare my life to other people’s lives less and less. Every joyful moment is precious to me. I am learning to let the small things go and see the bigger picture.

I am closing your chapter, year 29. When I look back on you, it won’t be filled with sadness. It will be filled with hope and remembrance of all you have given me.

With thanks,

Lindsay

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

Thinkstock photo via anyaberkut.


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


Related to Congenital Heart Defect/Disease

The writer and her friend sitting on the couch, the day she returned home from the hospital.

How My CHD Taught Me to Live

My 17-year-old self would have told you I wanted to be a doctor. And then once congenital heart disease (CHD) started disrupting my life, I dropped the idea. I feared hospitals, and didn’t want to be the one inflicting pain. I wanted to stay far away from the health industry. That was my attempt at [...]
A father with his three children at the beach.

What It's Like Being Married to a CHD Warrior

About five years ago, my husband and I had bought a new house and were in the process of remodeling the kitchen. The one request that he had was “no white cabinets.” This was not simply a matter of taste; white cabinets reminded him of sterile medical facilities. My husband was born with a complex [...]

Why I Resisted, Then Agreed, to Show Off My Congenital Heart Defect Scar at a Photo Shoot

Earlier this year, I posted a tweet that seemed to resonate with some of my followers: “As a child, I was very self-conscious about my scar. Today, it serves as a reminder of my inherent strength and resilience. #CHDlife” Whether or not a person has a congenital heart defect (CHD) and its related scars, I [...]
birthday candles that have just been blown out

On My Birthday, I'm Remembering Those Who Have Passed

On Monday I got to celebrate making it to another year. I turned 25 years old on October 9th and I was reminded once more of how lucky I have been to make it through it all. Birthdays have always been important to me and I don’t take them for granted. But this Monday I [...]