By Clare Almand
13 Feb

Let’s Talk About CHD

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I don’t often associate Valentine’s Day with my heart condition. I think of it as a day that makes couples feel obligated to go out and spend money on chocolate and candy. For me, that’s just another Thursday. And normally, I wouldn’t even be paying that much more attention to my heart condition or the festivities associated with it during this month, but I feel a little differently after doing my first Congenital Heart Walk.

I never had participated in a Congenital Heart Walk before, but I figured that since New York is my new adopted city, it would be the best place to get involved and hopefully meet new people and make some connections. I was never good at fundraising. I don’t feel very comfortable asking people for money (which I really should’ve thought about before I volunteered). But I wanted to break out of my comfort zone a little and try something new, so I embarked on this new project.

The November event, which became delayed after Hurricane Sandy, finally occurred the first weekend in January. I was so excited to get there and start setting up. I was finally able to meet many of the volunteers whose voices I heard on the weekly conference calls that had begun in the fall. It was really inspiring to meet so many people who were so active in fundraising and spreading awareness about congenital heart disease.

The other aspect that I didn’t realize would be so amazing was talking to other CHD survivors. I spent the majority of the event (after doing a little walking, of course) talking to a couple of young adults my age who had undergone open heart surgery like I had. And after the walking, the speeches, and the raffle prizes, a group of six or seven of us young adults got together at a table and just shared our experiences.

I have never felt so comfortable in a group of strangers. The blogs and the online community are great, but nothing compares to actually sitting down and having a conversation with one or more people who can relate to what you’ve been through. I cannot express enough how incredible it was to have the opportunity to do this.

Overall, it was a good start to my Congenital Heart Walk career. I sent out several e-mails to friends and relatives and while I definitely wasn’t the biggest contributor by any means, it was a good starting place that I’ll be able to build on next time. I met amazing people, listened to awesome speakers, and felt like I did something productive for my city and my ACHA community.

So this February, Heart Month, I’m thinking more consciously about my CHD. And since it’s CHD Awareness Week, I’ve changed my Facebook cover photo to let everyone know that I’m #1, which makes me a member of a fantastic community.

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The opinions expressed by ACHA bloggers and those providing comments on the ACHA Blog are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Adult Congenital Heart Association or any employee thereof. ACHA is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the ACHA bloggers.

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.