Recent Entries
Summer Vacation: Tips for Traveling with CHD
How Do You Start Your Morning?
Balancing Parenting & Congenital Heart Disease
The First Five Years
My Journey to a Grateful Life
Now What?
Medical Home Sweet Home
Still Cliché’?
To My Village: Thank You
Education is Key in Spreading the Word about CHD


The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

“What Is It Like?”

Nov 30

Posted by: ACHA
11/30/2012 11:40 AM  RssIcon

By Jennifer Gooden

Back in June I shared with the ACHA community that I had spent time interviewing on the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) at the very hospital that I grew up in. I decided that I needed a change from the ER and wanted to learn more. I felt like I would fit in just right. The CICU is a place so close to my heart and after my interview I wished and hoped and prayed that I got the job. Six long weeks later I got the call. I got the job!

Since September I have been working on my dream unit helping children just like me. I am learning more than I could imagine and loving the challenge. Working in a unit full of CICU nurses, it’s hard to hide my sternotomy scar, or my “zipper.” We are taught to assess everything and everyone. So it is only natural that my zipper comes up in conversation. They quickly state if I don’t want to talk about it then it is OK. Being such open and honest person, I often answer every single question the best I can.

Normally the Spanish Inquisition starts as, “Well, I noticed…” and leads to “what defects do you have?” OK, easy one: VSD, TGA, tricuspid atresia and hypoplastic right. And then immediately after they say “Oh. Wow! What is it like?” And that one is not an easy one.

What is it like? Well, what is it not like? I have always had congenital heart defects. I probably will always have congenital heart defects. It just “is.” It is a part of me and I am OK with that. And becoming OK with that isn’t something that happened overnight. Sure, in 5th grade I was teased on track and field day because I couldn’t keep up. And I still hate going to the beach and wearing a bathing suit because I think it looks ugly. But it is what it is. I often say all my surgical scars are better than the alternative. It is better than being dead.

One of my favorite questions that a co-worker asked me is what advice can you give me so that I can help my patient? That was an easy one, too. The best thing that anyone ever did for me was treat me like I was a normal kid. Just let me run and play and get dirty. I would self-limit when things got too hard and even when I didn’t want to slow down, my body would slow me down anyway.

The best thing as a nurse that I can do for my patients is the best thing I can do for myself, and it is also the best thing you can do for yourself—treat yourself like a normal person. Work hard, play hard. It gives you purpose. We (us ACHDers) have been given a second opportunity. Do not make it an excuse; make it a reason to live your life to the fullest.

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.

Copyright ©2012 ACHA

Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

2 comment(s) so far...


Re: “What Is It Like?”

I'm an RN wih tga working on the telemetry unit. Can't picture myself working anywhere else. Once in a blue moon my patients will see NASCAR and ask. I'm very open and proud to be a survivor.

By Joanne on   11/30/2012 3:56 PM

Re: “What Is It Like?”

correction: "my scar NOT nascar" haha

By joanne on   12/7/2012 4:32 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment   Cancel