11/9/2012 12:33 PM
By Kim Edgren
Almost two years ago my oldest daughter and I were going to head off to Africa. Our plan was to join my aunt who runs a non-profit organization in Nairobi and visit their school in Kibera and nearby orphanage. We got all our shots, we made our plans. And then the trip fell through. Shortly after that my conduit failed and well, Africa fell off the grid.
Recently I have found myself saying, “I almost made it to Africa but that is not going to happen.” Up until a couple months ago, my health seemed to have dominated most everything in my life. I had endured my congenital heart defects with little impact on my daily life after I had a “corrective” procedure at age nine. Surgeries were usually done before I was symptomatic and most symptoms were a minor annoyance and reminder of my “condition.” Of course, that changed in the months prior to my Melody valve. It took a long time to fully recover from the damage to my heart.
Recently, however, my cardiac stuff is more an afterthought than a daily worry. Sure, there are the occasional palpitations (that seem a lot more obvious when your heartbeat is that much louder!) and little reminders like retained fluid and tired days. But now, over a year later... I feel good. So good that I have secretly taken up jogging. I say secretly because my very caring spouse and mother would have their own heart attacks at the thought of me jogging! While I certainly could exercise more (and drop a good 10 pounds), I know it is not my heart keeping me from doing it—just excuses!
Which brings me back to Africa... Why can’t it happen? CHD has sometimes (OK, often) led me to let fear lead my life. Fear of dying, but really, that means fear of living. Sometimes I listen to those who love me who encourage me to “take it easy.” I know that their reason is they want me to live a long life. But, I want to live the life I have. Listening to them reinforces the fears I already have. And protecting them is essentially preventing me from what could be.
A good friend of mine says, “you are not here for a long time, you are here for a good time.” While I do want the long time, I also want the good time—the time spent doing what I am truly capable of, the time doing what I couldn’t when my conduit failed me, and the time doing what I may not be able to do when it fails again. Now may be the only time I can jump on a plane and experience a world far away; it could be the only time I can take up jogging. Could something happen? Of course. But that is life. As it should be.
Kim Edgren was born in 1966 with transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis and ventricular septal defect. She recently became the proud owner of a Melody valve! When she is not trying her hand at writing she is busy spending time with her partner and three girls, managing her two child care centers and planning her next vacation.
Copyright ©2012 ACHA
1 comment(s) so far...
By Pen on
11/9/2012 3:11 PM
Re: Wanting the Long Time and the Good Time
Go, just go to Africa and see "what could be".