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Making Modifications

May 25

Posted by: ACHA
5/25/2012 11:10 AM  RssIcon

By Jennifer Gooden

Many times in my life I have been faced with things I cannot or should not do. I am faced with what people think I can, cannot and should not do. I have come to realize that people who know about my CHD expect me to be a bit more slow, more tired and a little less “able.” And I will admit that sometimes I expect the exact same. I am a bit more slow, I am a bit more tired and sometimes I am a little less able. Because let’s face it, us CHDers—we’ve got problems.

But I recently stumbled upon this quote: “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” I have come to realize that attitude is everything. I am my biggest barrier. Not my CHD. If I put my mind—and broken heart—into something I can usually achieve my goals. Sometimes I have to modify the way I get to my goals, but eventually I get there. And reaching my goals is much sweeter because I do have the ability to deal with those problems.

Problems that I face revolve around remembering meds, being tired and shortness of breath. I’ve come up with a great way to remember my meds. A bright green “old lady” pill box that I make up each week and keep in my purse. As for being tired, I sleep when I can, where I can, how I can. I have become a pro at sleeping in a chair for even a 15 minute catnap.

The shortness of breath, however, continues to elude me. Of course, the meds and rest help but I still find myself a bit more short of breath then usual. Things like hauling patients on stretchers around the eight floors of the hospital used to be easier. Now I am lucky if I can take up one stretcher without feeling like I am going to fall over. But I have to deal with this problem. So I look for where I can I modify.

For patients—who can fit—the little red wagon in the hospital playroom makes a ride to the inpatient floor much more fun. And easier on my heart. Or a wheelchair becomes a Cinderella’s carriage, another excellent substitute for the stretcher. These modifications are small but they allow me to keep going. Allow me the ability to deal. They allow me to breathe. They allow me to be happy and grateful that I can still do it.

Modifications and substitutions are not only something that I use at work to get the job done; modifications are something that I use in my cooking to make things a bit healthier, too. One substitution that I have loved lately is spaghetti squash instead of regular spaghetti!

Customizable Spaghetti Squash



  1. Wash spaghetti squash well.
  2. Carefully cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
  3. In a microwave-safe dish, add about 1/2 inch water to the bottom of the container. Add the spaghetti squash halves with flesh facing down. Microwave for 4-5 minutes until the flesh comes out easily with a fork.
  4. Scrape out "spaghetti" with a fork.
  5. Add in your favorite tomato sauce, cheese and other fixings!

Jennifer Gooden is an emergency department nurse who was born with transposition of the great arteries, as well as other congenital heart defects. She and her husband Ziggy are working on transitioning to a more healthy lifestyle. Read more about their adventures in and out of the kitchen at their blog.

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