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Making Memories My Own Way

Mar 6

Posted by: ACHA
3/6/2013 2:44 PM  RssIcon

By Becca Atherton

Throughout my life, my health has taken away things in my life that other healthy people could do. But I noticed that there was a cycle. I gave myself a day or two to cry, scream, yell about how life isn’t fair and tell my parents that I just wanted to be normal. Then after I got it all out, I sucked it up and I did what I knew I had to do.

Well, yet another thing came up on Monday that I was not able to do. My friends at school are all going away on a three-day camping trip for Spring Break. Now I am going to be very honest with you, I don’t think I would like camping—not one bit. I like sleeping in a comfy, warm bed. They were going to be sleeping in tents. I like having heating and a running toilet. They would have a campfire and a place behind the bushes.

But that isn’t why I wanted to go. At first all I could see is that this group of people was going to be having fun and making memories… and I wouldn’t be a part of it. And that’s what made me so upset. I cried, I yelled at my mom that she didn’t understand, and then I called some of my heart friends and I vented to them, knowing they’d understand.

By Tuesday, my friends at school were planning on all pitching in to buy me a generator so I could go up and keep my oxygen charged constantly since I would need that above 3,000 feet. I was ecstatic. I would be a part of these memories. I’d be a normal college kid—with the exception of the oxygen.

But then I had to think about my health. How realistic would this trip be for me? I went up to the mountains once in my life, and it was to stay at a resort, so I didn’t have to do anything strenuous! I never had to hike, I got a comfy bed, I had oxygen plugged in constantly, and had a cabin that had great heating. But at the end of the trip, I was exhausted.

So what would real camping do to me? I’d be out of commission for a week, if not more, and that would definitely affect my schooling. On top of that, how much fun would I have in the freezing cold while everyone went off hiking and I had to stay at the campsite?

I came to the conclusion with my parents that it would not be a smart idea for me to go. It’s sad to me, but over the years I realized that I need to stick to my cycle to eventually make the best out of these situations. So I have. The day after my friends get back from camping, they will be “glamping,” which is glamorous camping, in my acre backyard. My parents have agreed to it and they even offered to put up our big projector so we can watch movies all night and maybe even rent a popcorn machine, too.

There are going to be things in my life, and I’m sure in the lives of many adults with CHD, that we just can’t do no matter how much we want to. And it stinks; I hate it. But this is our life and we can go with what life has given us, or put up a fight and get exhausted over it. Do I wish I could go camping? Yeah, I do. But I found a compromise. I may not be involved in the memories at the camping trip. But when they all come over and spend the night at my place, those will be memories that I will be part of.

No one ever gets everything they want, whether you are healthy or not. And that is something I had to remind myself. Along with that, I have the comfort of knowing that I have so many people in my life who were willing to drop everything and try to make me feel normal. With those types of people in my life, how can I not be happy?

Becca Atherton was born with tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia and pulmonary hypertension. She was adopted as a baby into a large multiracial family, where she is the second youngest. Becca was given a 13% chance of surviving to the age of five, but she is 20 years old and a college sophomore at her local community college. She loves to read, perform American Sign Language to music and write on her blog.

Copyright ©2013 ACHA

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5 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Making Memories My Own Way

I have the same defect as you, and also miss out on things frequently, often because of the oxygen problem. How often do you use your oxygen and what are your saturation levels like on a day to day basis?

By JOh on   3/6/2013 4:37 PM
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Re: Making Memories My Own Way

I am an old lady now that grew up with CHD and felt like you. Sometimes very low but mostly OK. I will say that for me the disappointments got less mainly because I adjusted my life to fit my own needs. As you so wisely said everyone has things they cannot have but we have so much to be happy about

By susan manley on   3/6/2013 5:42 PM
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Re: Making Memories My Own Way

Joh on - I use oxygen every night when I go to bed. And I also use it if I go above 3,000 feet, so on an air plane.

Susan - Yes we do have so much to be happy about. Just hard to remember sometimes.

By Becca on   3/7/2013 8:51 AM
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God will always be with you...

hi becca... i understand every word i have read in your blog and i feel alll your disappointments... but hey! we are still lucky to be with our loved ones who makes all the difference in our life. let's just be thankful for that gift and keep our faith.. God is always with us.

By NINI FLORES on   3/7/2013 8:52 AM
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Re: Making Memories My Own Way

I loved this.... I lvoe the ideas of making memories your way. Yes, there will be things you can not do, but you are not only making memories for yourself your way, but also going to be helping your friends make wonderful memories they otherwise would not have. Hope your at home camping trip is a great success!

By Alissa on   3/12/2013 8:13 AM

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