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What R-E-S-P-E-C-T Means to Me

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

I've been playing a lot of disc golf the last couple of weeks. Between the coach of the local high school team leading his kids through the middle of the course and interrupting play, the vandalism to the course, and the amount of garbage that people are leaving, it's given me pause to think about—why? I think it comes down to a lack of respect. All three of those things can be tied back to a lack of respect for the people who use the course on a regular basis. But, I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about the lack of respect everyone sometimes shows for themselves.

For me as a CHD patient, I really showed a lack of respect for my body coming out of this last surgery and I think it has cost me. I really pushed myself hard when I got out into the real world. I kept telling myself that I was far enough away from surgery to be able to do so. After all, it was nearly 10 weeks after my surgery before I was given the OK to drive.

Once I passed that threshold, I really went for it. The problem was that I spent a month in the hospital and this was only six weeks after getting out of the hospital. I thought at the time I was doing the right thing. Usually my “put your head down and plow through the work” attitude gets me where I want to go. However, by not consulting with anyone beforehand, I didn't respect the seriousness of the surgery, my doctors or myself. I had a goal in mind to run in our local Thanksgiving Day race and although I did that, I have really had nothing but trouble since.

So what do I mean when I say I didn't respect myself by pushing forward in this race? I mean I didn't let my body have enough time to heal properly. I did what so many of us have learned to do to get by in our lives. I pushed even when things hurt and I didn't feel up to it I kept pushing. Because of that lack of respect for what I had been through, I now spend every day with some kind of pain in my ribs and chest. Some days are better than others. On good days I only experience pain when I breathe deeply, but on bad days it is nearly constant.

Please take a lesson from me and respect yourselves. Give yourselves time to recover. I'm not saying don't push to obtain your goals. I'm saying be smart about setting and obtaining them and take it easy on yourself if you’re not getting to where you want to be at the pace you set for yourself.

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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.

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