By Kelly Deeny
26 Oct

Imagining: Healing Slowly but Surely

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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.

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