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To My Teenage Self When I Woke Up From Open Heart Surgery

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As you wake up from the long open heart surgery, you should be excited. You are awake and know the operation is now going to be a memory, but you are feeling scared. I don’t blame you — being through an open heart surgery does make it more challenging to enjoy the moment of consciousness!

You are thinking you will be cured or have some sort of superpower post-operation, instead of waking up to the reality of being fixed with tubes all over your body and the feeling of weakness. Standing upright is a mission and it takes great strength to move a little forward. You find yourself surrounded by nurses and family members, and try to speak but do not have the energy to say a word. You do not want anyone to worry, so you try to smile to make your family see you are brave — only deep down you are terrified with all the drips and tubes and wires all over your body and a monitor screen keeping all the vitals in check. A few times the alarm goes off from the monitor and a nurse rushes to check if it’s any concern, but she smiles and goes back to her work station.

How you wanted so badly to be home, doing all the normal things in life, like going to high school like every other person in your age group or playing a sport like football or tennis. You’re 15 years old and only few months away from turning 16, with plans in your mind for all the fun you will have during your 16th birthday, but find yourself in the hospital bed barely able to move and feeling the physical pain that comes from going through an operation. There’s the uncertainty that comes with the unknown if things don’t work health-wise. Life seems unfair right now, and you don’t understand how the life of a teenager with congenital heart disease is suppose to be — there was no manual about how to deal with the anxieties. You’re at a vulnerable age and want to recover overnight; sadly it doesn’t work that way — it takes much longer, months if not years.

Suddenly you have panic attacks and body aches until you have the fear, which takes over your life and you become reclusive to the world. You do feel different from the rest. You keep yourself away from all the things you would normally enjoy — the increased awareness of your limitations makes you feel inferior.

This might sound funny to you, but you are so much stronger than you will ever know. There is an infinite fire in you, like a warrior who fights against all odds.

Keep the faith in yourself and I believe the Divine will give you the ability to achieve so much more in life. Why would you believe me? I was the 15-year-old teenager in the hospital bed and I felt what you are feeling right now. You will be much happier in life if you accept your flaws and turn them into your strengths.

I want to part ways by saying the best years of your life await you — even if it doesn’t feel like it, they surely do.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to your teenaged self when you were struggling to accept your differences. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: April 20, 2016
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