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Setting Goals With My Son

Thursday, June 14, 2012

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

I am the father of a wonderful 21-year-old kid. I've raised him since he was two years old with some help from my parents and brothers along the way. He's seen me at my best and worst as I've dealt with my CHD.

When he was a little we used to go out and do all kinds of things together—kayaking, hiking, shooting and fishing. As he reached his teenage years my CHD began to take its toll on me. I developed CHF and slowly I was unable to do the things with him that we used to. We still spent time together going to movies or just hanging out but; he was a healthy active kid who needed activities.

As things got worse I was spending more time in the hospital, anywhere from overnight to three weeks at a time. During my hospital stays he lived with my parents and my brothers would take turns taking him out to do things.

Of course that's all the bad stuff that CHD brought to our lives. The good stuff came in the form the chance to show my son by example what courage and hard work was all about. We sat down nine years ago and I told him I was going to set a goal for myself to get healthy enough to have the valve replacement surgery that I needed.

He watched me go through multiple catheter procedures with the implanting of my biventricular ICD. He watched me struggle as my body adjusted to the new levels of medication that I was being put on. He lived through the change in diet so that I could eat foods with less sodium and fat . He frequently went with me as I dragged myself outside to walk every day, especially on the days where I was really tired. He was able to see firsthand how I overcame setbacks, like the smashing of an ICD and the following infection. Now at the end of July he will get to see me reach my goal as I am finally approved for the surgery that I was too sick to have before.

Now that he's starting his own journey into life, I can see that he has taken these lessons to heart. Throughout his life he has set goals for himself and has worked steadily towards them. The most recent one is, of course, finish school, and he's a year and half away from doing that. He works hard studying and gets good grades as well as holds down a steady job. He is currently saving money so that he and a couple of his friends can get a place of their own at the beginning of this upcoming semester. He is friendly and fearless and is willing to talk to anyone or try anything. He works hard to stay physically fit and I think that helps to keep him grounded in life. And through all this he takes a few minutes a day to hang out with me and catch me up on what's going on in his life.

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