By Christy Sillman
10 Oct

A Letter to 18-Year-Old Christy, Circa 1998

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dear Young Christy,

It’s 2013, and guess what? You’re alive! Not only are you alive but you’re living a life you never could have imagined was possible. Spoiler alert – you have a loving husband, a gorgeous child, and a fantastic career. I know you’re really confused right now after open heart surgery, but I wanted to give you some tips to help you through the next few years.

  1. Stop drinking so much. That cigarette doesn’t make you look cool, and marijuana is horrible! Stop with the drugs all together. I know you think you only have a short amount time to live so you’re “living it up” while you can, but we’ve already established that you live longer than you expect – so just stop. There are no guarantees in life, good or bad.
  2. That gut feeling you had when the cardiologist told you you’re CURED of your CHD? Listen to that gut feeling. He IS wrong. Find appropriate care now – an adult congenital heart cardiologist – they really do exist! Look to the larger medical institutions for guidance and referrals. Medical insurance companies don’t dictate what appropriate care is.
  3. Take care of your heart. Lay off the sodium, eat healthy, and exercise often. I know doctors pulled you from physical education classes – it wasn’t medically necessary. You need to keep that heart muscle strong! Oh, and take a baby aspirin every day.
  4. You’re not alone. No, seriously. There’s this amazing organization that’s called the Adult Congenital Heart Association. Our own association! You’re going to meet hundreds of other people your age with CHD. You won’t ever feel alone in your journey again!
  5. You’re not crazy! People with CHD may have some sort of mood or emotional disorder. Your anxiety is really normal for what you’ve been through. In fact, many heart healthy people have anxiety – you actually have a legitimate reason to be anxious. You’ll find great coping mechanisms and it won’t be as much of a problem in the future as it is now.
  6. Protect your heart – your emotional heart. Stop wasting your time on these guys who don’t truly care about you and cherish your unique place in the world. You’re T-minus 2.5 years away from meeting the greatest love of your life. You’ll know it’s him right when you meet him, so stop wasting your time on these guys who you know aren’t right for you!
  7. Never stop learning, advocating, and demanding the care you know is right. I know medical stuff freaks you out and you’d rather not hear the details, but trust me on this one, there will be a day where not only will you be interested in it, but your life’s work will revolve around it.

It’s amazing how much you’ll learn and change in 15 years. No one truly knows what the future holds – all we can do is set ourselves up for the best success, increase our knowledge, and savor the good times. Enjoy the next 15 years, they truly are amazing.

Love,
“Old” Christy

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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.