7/26/2013 10:12 AM
By Jon Ritchings, Jr.
I am grateful for my CHD. I know that isn't something you hear all the time, but it is true. Having a CHD has introduced me to two things that I may have never learned without living with a CHD.
The first is acceptance—the ability to take things and people at face value without judging. When I first went into heart failure, the disease spread so fast that I was forced to give up many of the things that I had loved to do, like canoeing, hiking, and weightlifting. Without these things in my life I was lost at first. I had a hard time and I held onto them. Eventually, I learned that the idea that these things defined who I was as a person wasn't true. I was still the same me inside even though outwardly I wasn't able to do the things I enjoyed.
I've learned how to accept other people for who they are as well—how to listen to their stories and not judge them for their problems or choices in life. I learned this because once I had become sick I had people, co-workers mostly, who whispered behind my back. They said things like, "He looks fine to me" and "He's just faking it to get out of doing real work.” I knew the truth and it bothered me that people who I had always been straight with would think that suddenly I was lying to them.
The second thing that I've been introduced to by CHD is the amazing and wonderful people. I really only joined the CHD community a few years ago. Before that I was alone. After joining ACHA and other groups I have quickly learned that I am not alone. There are thousands of us adults out there, some with similar stories to mine. The fact that all you people out there share this common disease with me gives me a sense of belonging. I feel like I have a whole community that is willing to lend me moral and emotional support if I need it. And that is a wonderful feeling to have.
So I'm grateful for my CHD. I urge you all to take a minute and think about one good thing that CHD has brought into your life.
Jon Ritchings, Jr., is a 40-year-old father who was born with pulmonary atresia and hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Although he has made a career in retail, he prefers to be outdoors kayaking and taking photos. Jon likes to draw inspiration from quotes and one of his current favorites is from Lao Tzu: “I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.”
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