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.

Problem. Solution.

Nov 4

Posted by: ACHA
11/4/2011 10:24 AM  RssIcon

By Clare Almand

After reading several blog posts about growing up with “expiration dates,” it really got me thinking about how different my childhood was. I never thought I had an expiration date. No one told me to watch out for a certain year. My life since day nine has been problem, solution, problem, solution. Problem on day nine: cardiac arrest. Solution: coarctation repair. Problem two months later: ventricular and atrial septal defects. Solution: my first open heart surgery. And so on and so forth.

I wonder if everyone’s cardiologist follows the same formula. Whenever I try to get my doctor to tell me what potential challenges I might face in the future, she says the same thing. Nothing. She won’t even give me a hint. She likes to say, “There’s a lot we don’t know.” I get that, and yet, I know she knows something.

Information is a gift and a curse. When I received my mechanical heart valve, my surgeon told me it would last 200 years. So I felt pretty good about living a long, healthy life. When that surgery led to complete heart block, it was corrected with a pacemaker. Problem. Solution. Did I ask what could possibly happen afterwards? No, because the issue at hand was solved. And it led to an unprecedented nine years of being a healthy (all things considered), surgery-free teenager.

But it also led to a false sense of security. Imagine my shock during sophomore year of college when my pacemaker died unexpectedly, followed by atrial fibrillation a year later. I’m not sure whether having the knowledge that more rhythm problems were possible down the line would have been beneficial, but I didn’t appreciate being blindsided either. The worst part was, my doctors didn’t even know why. It’s just my crazy, unpredictable, Shone’s syndrome heart.

It was then that I realized that while my valve might last 200 years, that didn’t necessarily mean that my heart would.

Problem: ventricular tachycardia. Solution: implantable cardiac defibrillator. I understand and appreciate all that my cardiology team as done for me. Problem: congestive heart failure. Solution: Lasix. And maybe not knowing everything that could possibly go wrong will keep me from dwelling on things I can’t control. Problem: poor heart function. Solution: third lead for biventricular pacing. The truth is, I’ve gotten used to this system of taking things one step at a time. Problem. Solution.

Although, there is a small part of me that hopes I’ve got 185 more years left.

Clare Almand was born with Shone’s syndrome and has undergone a repair for coarctation of the aorta, multiple atrial septal defect and ventricular septal defect repairs, aortic valve replacement and an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator implantation. She has a B.A. in Media Arts and Design with a minor in Creative Writing from James Madison University. Clare pushes paper during the day and writes screenplays in her spare time. 

Tags: Clare Almand
Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

1 comment(s) so far...


Re: Problem. Solution.

LOL...although nobody ever told me about an *expiration date* I did feel like I SHOULD have been told I had one when I had my Fontan at age 27 and all of the doctors at the Mayo Clinice tell telling me how lucky I was to " have made it this far ". I was like " huh!? " This was my third open heart surgery.
At age 51 and living with one ventricle and transposition of the great vessels I do sometimes ponder about how long God will keep me here on this earth. But I have never made it the focal point of my life. That is why they call it LIVING!

By Michelle on   11/5/2011 3:19 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