By Stephanie Hodgson
14 Sep

Extra, Extra! Read All About It: Superwoman Traverses Land and Sea

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When I think about how I lived through the horrifying and tragic events of 9/11, traipsed nearly eighty blocks after a major Northeast blackout, and survived a mass transit strike during one of the coldest winters, it doesn't surprise me that my twin sister and doctors call me Superwoman.

To me, though, when I think of Superwoman, it conjures up scenes of a super human with powers enough to have been able to avert a tragedy like 9/11 so that no lives would have been lost, or someone who has the power to prevent any undue hardships caused by a major blackout or transit strike. And, Superwoman's heart would be perfect, not needing to be repaired.

When I was a child and young girl I had to go internally for strength to traverse all of the hurdles in front of me. For example, in junior high and high school we were required to run around the football field two times or around the basketball court ten times without stopping, swim 20 nonstop laps for a lifesavings class, and in synchronized swimming, we did a group routine to the theme of "Superman" (ironically) where we couldn't rest our feet on the floor for the entire song. I knew I wouldn't be able to make it, or if I did, I would be panting.

My stamina was stronger then, but I got out of breath so easily. I didn't know what was wrong, and no one questioned why I couldn't go at the pace that my twin sister or other kids did.

So, I went within, pulled up my resources and even though I walked sometimes to the finishing point, I made it. I grew a stronger heart, although not physically—I grew the strength needed to attempt and complete these hurdles, despite knowing they were so strenuously difficult.

Now, when tragedy strikes or something big happens I guess I pull out my Superwoman powers that I learned to rely on as a young person. Except now I know I wouldn't have been able to run from the smoke filled air on 9/11, and I fortunately got probably the last subway coming from the World Trade Center to safety.

I also know that I have to realize my physical limits. I had to stop working in July of 2004 because of the worsening progression of my congenital heart and lung disease. Some days, right before I quit working and went on disability, I couldn't even walk across the floor without being short of breath. I even tried temping three different times after this before I finally said “enough.”

I also felt the need to retreat to a much calmer, quieter, and less hectic place after surviving all of that and more.

I feel bad for having to leave work at this point in my life. One would think, though, that running on such low oxygen and being blue all the time would slow me down.

However, I still feel as if I have to live up to the invincible powers of Superwoman.

This past Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Ten years have passed and I've taken a moment to reflect and give thanks for still being here today.

How about you? When major life changing events or tragedies such as 9/11 happen, how does it affect you and how do you reflect on your CHD? Is your CHD factored in when major decisions have to be made with regards to work or school?

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