This past week, I went to a local elementary school to talk with third and fourth graders about my heart condition, bullying and how you can’t look at a person and think you know what they are like. I explained how with my heart defect, I look normal. Looking at me, people have no idea that I am sick. So when I walk slow or take the elevator instead of the stairs, they look at me weird or make comments. I also talked about when I was younger; even when I was in high school people would still make fun of me. The kids asked questions about my illness, how I coped with the bullying and then I got a question that I had never gotten before.
One little boy asked me, “What is it like to be you?” I had never really thought of this before.
I was born with a congenital heart defect, I take pills every day and I deal with things as they come my way. Yes, when I was younger, I didn’t like the way I was or that I couldn’t run like the other kids. But I never really thought about what it was like to be me because I am me. I don’t have to think of what it’s like because I know what it is like. But I told the group of third and fourth graders what it’s like and now I’m telling you.
Being me, living with a congenital heart defect is many things. At times it is frightening and sad. Sometimes it’s lonely when I’m in a hospital. There are times when I am filled with uncertainty.
But living with CHD isn’t all bad. There are times when I am filled with hope. When my health is good, I feel energetic. There is laughter and smiling in my life, especially when I am around those who love me. I have moments of excitement and wonder at how amazing this world can be.
When I finished telling the group this, they had a look of amazement. They realized that my life didn’t seem like it was much different from theirs. I told them that besides needing to take medicine and sleep with oxygen, my life, my dreams, my goals, and my likes and dislikes were not that much different from theirs.
And I told the students that applied to pretty much everyone they will meet in their life. We may be from different places, have different hair colors and different beliefs. But we all get scared, we all need help sometimes and we all need friends to help us along. So instead of looking at the differences between you and I, let’s look at the similarities and help each other out. We are all human beings and we deserve to be treated that way.
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