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Birthdays, Death and Dying

Jul 23

Posted by: ACHA
7/23/2012 11:37 AM  RssIcon

By Jennifer Gooden

Today is my husband’s birthday. He has reached the ripe old age of 26. For his birthday I got him a bike—not a tricycle, but the vroom vroom kind of bike. Which begs the question, do I really want to be a widow? Motorcycles are super dangerous. But I knew he wanted one, and I got him all the gear, and he is taking classes. Though, if anything would happen to him I would be devastated.

Being an ACHDer, I don’t think that it is necessarily odd to think of myself and dying, but I really have never given any thought to Ziggy dying. I always have assumed that I’d “go first.” I am only 24 years old but I already have a living will, something that my cardiologist suggested that I do at my last appointment.

The website that she suggested is oddly enough called Aging with Dignity. Though I have not really aged much I still want some dignity in my death. The website provides a living will you can complete and purchase called Five Wishes, which is a legal advanced directive in 42 states. The five wishes that are touched upon include: who is your health care agent if you cannot make decisions for yourself, the kind of medical treatment you want, how comfortable you want to be, how you want to be treated and what you want your loved ones to know when you are near death. All pertinent information, I think. Given that I have lived 24 years longer than anyone originally guessed I think an advanced directive is important and even necessary.

For Ziggy, and probably most other people our age, death and dying is an uncomfortable subject. I completely get that. If I didn’t have serious medical issues, then it is probably something that would make me uncomfortable too. So, since it is his birthday I won’t make him look over my five wishes; I will wait until a “better time,” whenever that is. Instead, I will make him his favorite birthday lunch to take to work!

BBQ Steak Sandwiches


About 2 pounds of strip steak (We picked a tougher cut of steak because it will soften up in the slow cooker with time and we didn't want steak soup!)
A bottle of BBQ sauce
8 light hamburger buns


  1. Add half of the BBQ sauce to the slow cooker.
  2. Toss in the steak.
  3. Coat the tops of the steak with the rest of the BBQ sauce.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on high for about 4.5 hours or low for 7 hours.
  5. Toast the buns.
  6. When finished cooking use two forks to shred the beef.
  7. Place the beef with some BBQ sauce on the bun.
  8. ENJOY!

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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