Tag Archives: CHDawareness

CHD | Growing up scarred

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There is not a time that I can’t remember having a raised, silver line running down the center of my chest. It’s as though I was born with it. It is as much as a part of me as my arms and legs are.

Throughout my time I have acquired quite the collection of scars. The majority of them are from having open heart surgery. I have a scar running right down the middle of my chest. Then another starting on my boob, trailing under my right arm and almost reaching my spine. Along with these I have smaller scars scattered across my chest where the doctors inserted drains after my operation. They’re not the prettiest of things, but I do recall my mum telling me it was where I was ‘Kissed better’ in order to make my younger self accept them more.

Whilst growing up I managed to gather all of the childhood scars. From gashes in my knee from falling over in the playground. Scratches on my arms from my pet guinea pigs and scars along my forehead that happened when I ran into a birdbath and had to have my head stitched back together – along with numerous other ones that don’t have stories to them or are from the dreaded chicken pox.

To add to the assortment, two years ago I had my appendix removed which again, decorated my body with another four silver lines around my stomach. If you joined them up like a dot to dot game, they’d create the perfect kite shape.

I think you can agree that I have my fair share of battle wounds.

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My scars didn’t really bother me until I started to hit the puberty age. I’d say I began to notice I was different than everyone else at around the age of ten. I remember being in Primary school and people would ask me what it was, why I had them, what they meant… They made their own assumptions and told me what they thought my scars looked like. One comment that has stuck with me for all this time is when someone compared them to the likes of bird muck. It was a great simile, especially for someone so young, but it was such a great simile that it hurt so much and is something that I’ve never forgotten.

Then came high school.  This is when it really struck that I had scars and the majority of other people didn’t. I used to hate getting changed for PE. Partly because of the fact I’d have footballs thrown at my head and snide comments thrown in my direction (yeah, I was the nerd at the butt of everyone’s jokes), but having to get into my kit meant having to reveal my scars. And this terrified me.

Again I’d have curious comments asking why I have them. But no one was too brutal. I have no idea why, but I just felt so self conscious and different, which drove me to hating my scars (something I’ll never forgive myself for).

I remember times where I would get so upset and cry about the way I looked. I’d use make up to try and cover them up… but because the top part of my scar healed quickly, it has left it bumpy and raised, which meant makeup only drew more attention to them.

There were days I felt so low that I would consider having plastic surgery to make them smaller.

Social events such as prom were on the horizon and honestly, choosing the dress and trying to be happy with the way I looked felt like torture. It wasn’t just the way my scars looked, but if you have a scar you will know how strange it is to touch them. It is numb and weird and I just really hate the way it feels. So to have someone prodding around with pins and fitting my dress was not the most pleasant experience.

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Prom is supposed to be the time when you dance with your high school  sweetheart and forget all of your worries. But I never had a high school sweetheart and prom made we question whether I could ever be loved when my body is covered in scars. It made me sad and feel extremely unattractive.

When going to college I swore that I wouldn’t let me scars get me down, but oh how I broke this promise to myself. Everything was fine until I was asked out by some boy – of which I declined – and his best friend decided to use my operation against me. He called me ‘heartless’ and named my scar a ‘demon wound’. I get that he was standing up for his friend, but I feel as though I’d be more heartless leading him on than going on a date with him. All this is behind us, and the guy who asked me out is probably one of my closest friends right now and has been in a relationship with another girl for almost two years. I don’t talk to the other guy though, there comes a time in your life when you realise what kind of people you should surround yourself with, and someone who called my scar a ‘demon wound’ is not one of them.

I still get down about my scars from time to time, even last night I didn’t wear this top because it showed off too much of one. I guess I’ll always have good days and bad days with them, that is only natural, but I am learning to love my scars more and more. They are what have kept me alive and so are the greatest gift I have ever received. I doubt I would be the person I am today without them, they have made me stronger and braver than ever. My scars are what makes me, me, and even though it has taken time, I’m starting to see how beautiful they really are.

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❤️ CHD | My Story ❤️

I think I’ve written a similar post like this a couple of years ago, however as it is Congenital Heart Defects Awareness week, I thought I would once again let you into  huge part of my life that has shaped the person I am today.

My parents didn’t know that anything was wrong with me until the day I was born (although my mum’s body had produced a lot more water in her pregnancy in order to protect me whilst I grew. It’s amazing how nature knew there was a problem and yet no one else did). I was soon diagnosed with a condition called Fallot’s Tetralogy. This is where there are four defects found with the heart:

  1. Pulmonary Stenosis (A narrowing of the Pulmonary Valve).
  2. Ventricular Septal Defect (A hole in the heart).
  3. Right Ventricular Hypertrophy (The left side of my heart over compensated and meant the muscle thicker than it should be).
  4. Over-riding Aorta (The Aorta lies over the hole and allows some deoxygenated blood to be taken around the body).

I really don’t want to get too scientific, but if you want to,  you can read up further on the condition here.

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Although I was born with the condition, I was too small to operate on and so I had one operation around the age of one to put me on until I could have the full open heart surgery at two years old. I am so glad that I was very young when I had the operation as I barely remember any of it. However it pains me to think what my parents were going through, I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see your child hooked up to numerous monitors. They really are the bravest people I know.

Luckily everything went well during my operation. I made a fast recovery in hospital and when it was time to go home, I was watching Teletubbies and didn’t want to leave!

I don’t really have that many memories of being in hospital. I mean I was two years old so it is a very long time ago! Though there are three snapshots that have stuck with me. One was when my Grandad came to visit. I had my operation in December and so there was a Christmas tree on the ward. He got me out of my bed and walked me over to it. I know it doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal, but it is the small moments like this that are the most precious, especially when it was shared with my Grandad. He is such a special person  in my life who I have the utmost respect for, and I know this memory will stick with him too.

Something else I remember is when I went for a bath we found a toy plane on the side. I think it belonged to another child there on the ward, but I remember playing with it.

The last thing I remember is more of a scent than a memory. There was a dad and his daughter on the ward next to me and she had apple scented hairspray. I think he gave my mum a bottle for me or told her where to purchase it from because I am sure that when I left the hospital I still had this hairspray with me. I just know that it smelt amazing.

Having the operation has saved my life. If I hadn’t have had it, I probably wouldn’t have made it past my tenth birthday, and if I had done, I could be in a wheel chair right now – which is so terrifying to think about. It has meant that I can lead a completely normal life. I’ve taken dance classes, achieved my Black-Belt in Taekwondo, been in numerous plays. Even had to do cross country at Highschool… as rubbish as it is running around a field in the freezing cold, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

I still have trips to the hospital for check ups and echocardiograms (kind of like an ultrasound on my heart). I’ve even been told that I may have to have another operation in years to come – though my Grandad is adamant that this wont happen. But if it wasn’t for the scars on my body, it would almost be impossible to tell that I have a Congenital Heart Defect.

I am super grateful to all of my doctors and surgeons who have taken care of me throughout the whole of my life and my parents for being the most patient, understanding, loving people on this planet. They have been with me through thick and thin, and if it wasn’t for them I have no idea who I would be right now. I owe them everything.

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If you or your child are going through the motions of having open heart surgery, please know that it can and does get better. I know everyone’s conditions are different and in my case I thank God every night for how lucky I have been. You have to stay strong and positive and realise you are not alone and things will pick up.

I’m no expert on the disease, but I have been through it, so if you want to drop me an email and talk to me about my experiences or what you’re going through then please don’t hesitate. It would be great to hear from you!

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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