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Finding Positive in the Negative

Monday, February 06, 2012

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

February is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Month—an important month for me and many of my friends. It’s our month. We get to bombard you with facts and statistics about CHD and you get to listen.

And yet, with all the children and adults living with CHD, there are few people out there that have heard or know about CHD unless it has actually impacted their lives. In fact, this past year was the first time that our government set aside money specifically to address congenital heart disease across the lifespan.

So, after the facts, let me tell you what living with a CHD is:

  • Taking medication daily and having to miss school and playing with your friends because you had to have open heart surgery.
  • Being tired or not feeling well, but not wanting to miss out on time with your friends or family.
  • Your gym teacher telling you that you’re out of shape and lazy and that's why you can't catch your breath. And telling you you're not really sick.
  • Having people you meet think you're lying to get sympathy.
  • Having to explain what the scars are from and then having to hear someone say "well luckily they managed to fix your heart" and knowing that isn't true.
  • Not being able to go kayaking with your 14-year-old son because you’re too tired and short of breath after loading the kayaks on the car.
  • A lifetime of knowing that those who love you are worrying about you constantly.
  • A lifetime of taking medications and knowing that at some point in the future you’re going to need another surgery because replacement valves don't last forever.

CHD isn't all bad, though, because it's also these things:

  • Never taking life for granted.
  • Learning that you’re capable of more than you ever thought was possible.
  • Learning that courage doesn't mean not being scared. It means doing what needs to be done regardless of how afraid you are.
  • Having a greater compassion for those who are truly in need of it.
  • Knowing what true friendship means.
  • Taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
  • Finding new ways of doing things.

In all, I think having a CHD has made me a better person, despite all the negatives—because the one thing CHD truly is, is finding positives in the negatives.


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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.