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Why Worry? It Will Probably Never Happen
Celebrating our Successes and Looking Ahead
Milestones
The Real Stress Test
A Forum for Emotional Health, Not Just Physical
I Am No Longer the Only Person I Know with CHD
Changing Cities, Transitioning Care
My Tips for Traveling
Taking Your Scars International
When I Finally Met People With CHD
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Disclaimer

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.

By ACHA on 8/27/2014 11:00 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Last month my husband and I went to Paris as a last hoorah before we would see how the rest of my cardiac year played out. The day we were flying out I was feeling particularly icky with nausea and being exhausted and I was glad to have a few travel “tricks” up my sleeve. So I decided to share a few of them I’ve found to be successful to hopefully ease your end-of-the-summer travels!

By ACHA on 6/27/2014 11:20 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Up until this point in my life, whenever I would go to my twice-a-year cardiology appointments, I would do and hear roughly the same thing. I would get my vitals, EKG, and echo done and then my doc would come in and chat with me and tell me things look “about the same” and that I should continue with my meds—and I would keep on trucking along. That was my average heart year.

Unfortunately, this isn’t my average heart year. I would say that I am having the worst heart year ever. In my last blog post I explained that I was admitted for the first time in more than 20 years. Well so far this year I have been admitted three times, have worn no fewer than five Holter monitors, plus a BP monitor, and have had my first cardiac ablation.

By ACHA on 4/3/2014 2:31 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

I was hospitalized for the first time in 20 years last month. It was a pretty scary situation but when I look back, I am thankful for many things. I always think that things are what you make them. Here is why I am thankful for this little “hiccup” in my health:

I am thankful that I was at work—a children’s hospital’s cardiac ICU—when my heart started to act up. I sat down to do some charting on my patient and I felt like someone dropped a blow torch on my chest and that I was going to vomit. When the pain let up a little I noted that my heart was racing.

By ACHA on 1/13/2014 9:03 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

As adult congenital heart patients we often learn early to “listen to our bodies.” Not listening can have dire consequences. We learn when our bodies are giving us the yellow light to slow down and take things easy. For me it’s more of the red light – stop, something is wrong – that I have a hard time with. What can I say? I am a bit hard-headed!

By ACHA on 11/4/2013 10:15 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Some of us ACHDers have to take prophylactic or preventive antibiotics before routine procedures like teeth cleaning. I am one of those people whose cardiologist suggests that I take antibiotics before teeth cleaning and getting piercings. My doctor recommends taking antibiotics preventively to protect against a serious heart infection called bacterial endocarditis.

By ACHA on 9/5/2013 1:16 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

It's always nice to have work buddy—someone who has your back during a bad day, who understands your stressors, and shares in your accomplishments. You can also talk to your work buddy about life outside of the office, or in my case, my unit. The right work buddy can be more like a work wife or hubby.

The large majority of nurses are female. And I am lucky to have a cool work wife. I hate to brag but my work wife—Tracy—is super special! Not only do we share a bond at work, but we also share a heart bond. She is an ACHD warrior, too.

By ACHA on 7/25/2013 11:42 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Late last year I shared with the ACHA community that I had gotten my dream job! I am working in the cardiac intensive care unit at a major medical center. This hospital also happens to be where I had all four of my surgeries (many years ago) and it is still the hospital I go to for my cardiac care now.

This job has challenged me in so many ways that I never thought possible. I get to work with some of the most astute medical minds in the world. They are a truly amazing group of people that have such a wealth of knowledge that I am dying to learn. Whenever I find time to pick the brain of a more senior nurse, I do! I ask about all kinds of cardiac conditions and blood flow patterns and medication dosages.

By ACHA on 5/14/2013 9:00 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

In March my husband and I went to Walt Disney World in Orlando. We went to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. We got a hoppper pass to see all four Disney parks and ran around like a couple of kids (figuratively speaking) and had an absolute blast.

Making our way around the four theme parks—combined with the Florida heat and standing in the Disney lines with that heat—made me pretty exhausted. Day two of our vacation was when the excitement worse off and the fatigue set in, and I realized that I couldn't keep up with the kids in the park or my husband and I started to feel a bit down.

By ACHA on 3/21/2013 2:19 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

Many people at some point in their life forget something. It might be something as simple as lunch at home, a deadline for a project, or an item at the grocery store. But as an adult congenital heart patient, forgetting to take medication can have pretty serious consequences.

I have been working the day shift (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.) at work for the last six weeks, which is the longest I have worked days in years. It really threw my body, memory and schedule for a loop! I think that there was about a week where I just forgot to take my meds. Oops!

By ACHA on 2/1/2013 2:04 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

Working in the healthcare field, you would think that my job would provide excellent healthcare benefits. Wrong. Even with the “high option” my insurance is mediocre at best and once you add up all the co-pays you really are not saving as much as some of the insurance companies want you to think.

Lucky for me, last year when I married my hubby I got some pretty cool in-laws and some amazing health insurance. Insurance that was so wonderful that it even has a clause in it about congenital heart disease. Pretty cool, huh? I thought it was wonderful.

By ACHA on 11/30/2012 11:40 AM

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!

By ACHA on 10/15/2012 2:37 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

In early August I had my first cardiac procedure in a very long time. It was also our first cardiac procedure. Ziggy—the hubby—and I have gone through numerous doctor's appointments, MRIs, and other medical things over our five years together, but never anything that I would classify as a “procedure.” Nothing where I would “go under” and he would be the one left to make decisions if something—God forbid—happened.

Being a nurse, I know that a cardiac catheterization is an outpatient, routine procedure. Being the nurse also means I make the medical decisions for me and him. Being the nurse means I am in control. And for one fleeting day in August I had to give up that control. And honestly, I don’t know how people do it!

By ACHA on 8/29/2012 3:30 PM

By Jennifer Gooden

Dear Coumadin,

Oh, Coumadin, you little 5 milligram orange pill that runs my life, how I hate you. There are so many reasons why I disdain you so. Let me count the ways:

By ACHA on 7/23/2012 11:37 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Today is my husband’s birthday. He has reached the ripe old age of 26. For his birthday I got him a bike—not a tricycle, but the vroom vroom kind of bike. Which begs the question, do I really want to be a widow? Motorcycles are super dangerous. But I knew he wanted one, and I got him all the gear, and he is taking classes. Though, if anything would happen to him I would be devastated.

Being an ACHDer, I don’t think that it is necessarily odd to think of myself and dying, but I really have never given any thought to Ziggy dying. I always have assumed that I’d “go first.” I am only 24 years old but I already have a living will, something that my cardiologist suggested that I do at my last appointment.

By ACHA on 6/25/2012 10:12 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Sometimes it seems like all I am is one big diagnosis. Just one big ‘ol walking pharmacy in my purse—a cruel game that went wrong on one of God’s board game Friday nights. And then, God gives me a little bit of perspective. I am humbled and thankful. But for you to fully understand what I am talking about we will have to rewind and go back about two weeks.

By ACHA on 5/25/2012 11:10 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Many times in my life I have been faced with things I cannot or should not do. I am faced with what people think I can, cannot and should not do. I have come to realize that people who know about my CHD expect me to be a bit more slow, more tired and a little less “able.” And I will admit that sometimes I expect the exact same. I am a bit more slow, I am a bit more tired and sometimes I am a little less able. Because let’s face it, us CHDers—we’ve got problems.

But I recently stumbled upon this quote: “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” I have come to realize that attitude is everything. I am my biggest barrier. Not my CHD. If I put my mind—and broken heart—into something I can usually achieve my goals. Sometimes I have to modify the way I get to my goals, but eventually I get there. And reaching my goals is much sweeter because I do have the ability to deal with those problems.

By ACHA on 4/20/2012 10:46 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Stress tests. Many of us ACHDers have had one. We have walked them, ran them, huffed and puffed our way through them. Any way we can, we just get them done. My first—and to date, only—stress test was done about four years ago. And I failed with flying colors. Seriously, people, it was an epic fail.

By ACHA on 3/21/2012 10:10 AM

By Jennifer Gooden

Ziggy and I had been engaged for quite some time and we kept putting it off and putting it off. The whole wedding thing. Between both of us going to school full time, having full-time jobs and me seeing a new doctor every week, who has time to plan a wedding? Not us, that is for sure. We could barely find time to think about colors (purple and silver, by the way), let alone assemble a guest list.

By ACHA on 3/12/2012 12:03 PM

By Jennifer Rice

On March 1 I attended Lobby Day hosted by ACHA and Mended Little Hearts in Washington, D.C. It was an amazing experience. This was my first Lobby Day and I was not sure what to expect. To be honest, I was a little hesitant to go because it was super early in the morning—7 a.m. in D.C. traffic is awful—and I am a terrible public speaker.

By ACHA on 2/8/2012 1:45 PM

By Jennifer Rice

This time of year always reminds me of one "The Great Heart Debate of '96," a.k.a. a Valentine’s Day party in particular when I was in third grade. I was in Miss G.’s class when I got into a heated debate about hearts with another girl. This girl swore that a heart was the normal hand-written, Valentine’s Day, Hallmark card heart. You know—the one that you drew on your textbooks in high school and then filled in with your boyfriend’s initials. That was her heart.

By ACHA on 1/6/2012 1:39 PM

By Jennifer Rice

I can’t believe that it is 2012 already! It seems like just yesterday it was Thanksgiving and in a blink of an eye it is already the New Year. For me, this means my birthday is super close by—it’s today! After my birthday, I know the holiday season is officially over and that “real life” will commence.

By ACHA on 12/6/2011 10:34 AM

By Jennifer Rice

Season’s Greetings, my CHD friends! The holiday season is officially upon us! Can you believe it!? I feel like this year has just flown by. It was a big year for me: I transferred to the Pediatric ED, decided to go back to school, my fiancée and I settled into our first place and I finally became an “adult” as I transitioned to an Adult Congenital Heart Clinic. That is a lot of change!

By ACHA on 11/9/2011 11:34 AM

By Jennifer Rice

As I have gotten older, the holiday season and its meaning for me has changed. It is no longer about the cool presents that I am going to get or the snow days to look forward to (working in a hospital means no snow days—ever). The holiday is much more about spending time with family, partaking in those special traditions, and enjoying that “Peace on Earth” feeling.

Along with a different meaning of the holidays comes different responsibilities. As an adult, the holiday season has taken on a life of its own, with much to do and a lot of stress associated with it. What am I getting for whom, did I remember all the items I need at the grocery store and why didn’t I upload that holiday CD to my iPod last year!?

By ACHA on 10/27/2011 12:11 PM

By Jennifer Rice

Hey everyone! My name is Jen and I am new to the ACHA blogger community. I was born with several congenital heart defects, and as a result I required multiple surgeries and hospital stints.

My hospital experiences have shaped my life in a huge way. I always knew even back in elementary school that I’d grow up to be a nurse—to give back to those who have literally given me life. So, fast forward to today and you’d meet a twenty-something Registered Nurse in the Pediatric Emergency Room in one of the busiest ERs in Maryland who wears her zipper proudly and lives a pretty normal life (whatever “normal” is, anyway).