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6 Things I've Learned From Open Heart Surgery

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I’ll admit that the fact that I had open heart surgery sometimes still freaks me out. There are days when it’s all I can think about. Other days, I’m so busy that I forget I have a mechanical valve and don’t think about it until I lay in my bed at night, listening to its faint tick. I didn’t ask for a defective heart, but I realize I wouldn’t have it any other way.


1. Open heart surgery taught me to be thankful. Thankful for family, for friends, for my doctors, and for the beauty of life. I am ever grateful to the amazing people in my life. I have been blessed with such a positive support system.

2. I’ve become closer to certain people. A favorite teacher of mine from my senior year of high school became a second mother to me after I learned her father was also going to have surgery for a congenital heart condition.

3. Surgery was undoubtedly one of the scariest times of my life. I learned how to stay strong in the face of adversity.

4. I learned to cherish every moment. The value of time is timeless, and I have the power to choose how I will spend every second.

5. I learned what I wanted to do with my statistics degree. In a twisted way, it took surgery to push me towards biostatistics. I’d like to help others with congenital heart conditions. Not only did I learn what I wanted to do, my little sister wants to become a cardiac nurse practitioner after meeting my care team.

6. I learned how to swallow pills when I discovered the atrocious taste of some liquid medications.

As I write this, I am packing to head back to college. I’ll be going back with a new outlook on life. Everyone faces their own battles. We all put on brave fronts, and come out stronger. At the end of the day, I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined from an aortic valve.

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Originally published: January 16, 2018
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