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Imagining: Healing Slowly but Surely

Oct 26

Posted by: ACHA
10/26/2011 10:34 AM  RssIcon

By Kelly Deeny

Imagine being roughly a year and a half old and having your chest cracked open. I'm imagining it right there with you because even though I experienced that situation, I have no conscious memory of it. I can't even fathom what the recovery period must have been like at that age. I had my tonsils out two years ago and I thought that was painful! So how did I get through all that pain and heal when I'm sure all I wanted to do was cry and fight? According to my parents, I was quite angry with them. And rightly so! (Just kidding—sort of).

I look at my 19-month-old niece, so full of life and joy, and I think about how I'd feel if she were in that same situation. A child whose personality reveals an independent streak already. A child who's been vocal since the moment they brought her into the nursery. A child who throws a fit, wails and cries when you try to take her out of the car before she's ready. How in the world would she cope, react, and change if she had open heart surgery at this point in time? How would we, as a family, deal with the fear and worry?

We'd pull together, no doubt. My sister and brother-in-law would have tons of family around to provide support. We'd watch their dog, cook them meals, vacuum their house, sit with them in the hospital room, and on and on. They'd have people to talk to. And shoulders to lean on. The emotions they'd be experiencing are ones my parents can empathize with.

Imagining the situation from a different perspective helps me understand better the strength of my family—and not just my parents, though their courage and unflinching love amazes me. I think about my MomMom looking after my older sister while my parents were at the hospital with me. I hear stories from relatives about how they all worried and prayed for me. In times of great crisis my family united. Not just for me, but for my mom, dad and sister. To give us support knowing one day we'd pay it forward.

As I continue to examine the residual emotional and spiritual effects from open heart surgery I'm proud of the person I am today. I've survived many obstacles and turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself! As much as I know that my journey was mine to take, I am acutely aware that there were so many people in my life who stood by me, supported me and loved me along the way. I am a strong, stubborn and healthy young woman thanks in part to those who showed me what true love is really all about.

With so many ACHA members out there I'm sure there are similar stories, situations, and emotions like mine—from both a child's perspective and a parent's.

A graduate of Temple University's English program, Kelly Deeny recently completed book one in her juvenile fiction series. Using various forms of the creative arts, Kelly seeks to heal the emotional and spiritual scars that remain from her 1979 open heart surgery. While her ventricular septal defect was repaired and no physical limitations remain, she's just recently realized how vital the arts are to her healing process. Visit Kelly’s website by clicking here.

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3 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Imagining: Healing Slowly but Surely

I have my operation notes from when I was 17 months old for CTGA. I was awe struck to read what I have no recollection or conscious memory of. Something so violent but necessary. Amazing,thanks for sharing your thoughts. And yes, we did alright if I do say so myself!

By Wyn on   10/26/2011 10:59 AM
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Re: Imagining: Healing Slowly but Surely

Having been a Tetralogy recipient @ 2 y.o., my Mom told me I was quite resilient and was bouncing around again w/in a couple weeks.

In the long run, it's been an on-going philosophical debate, even more so after my recent valve replacement. It's not so much bucket-list, life-fulfillment thinking as it is wondering how many more procedures one is willing to endure.

By Matt K on   10/26/2011 11:07 AM
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Re: Imagining: Healing Slowly but Surely

I had my open heart surgery for cor- triatrium almost 6 years ago at the age of 23. It was wonderful to see how much a family and community can come together for support, especially given the fact that I only knew about my defect for 2 weeks prior to my surgery. The effects are emotional although I have no limitations. You still always wait to be told that something is still wrong. The nightmares of mostly stopped but insomnia still remains. I am grateful for everyday I have and look forward to turning 30 soon.

By Loryn on   10/26/2011 1:03 PM

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