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Celebrating Firsts

Thursday, February 25, 2016

By Jon Ritchings, Jr.

One of the best things about living through open heart surgeries is all the new firsts you get to do afterwards. These are, of course, the same things you maybe were able to do in the past, but now you are doing them again for the first time post-surgery.

It is life-affirming to know you can do things you haven’t been able to do in years. Four months after my last surgery I ran a 5-mile Thanksgiving race. After 10 months, I was able to spend the entire day walking around and advocating with ACHA in Washington, D.C. A year after my surgery I went on a great, fun-packed, 2-week vacation. At a year and half, I went back to school—and now, three years later, I’m working a full-time job and I’ll finally be off of disability and standing on my own two feet.

That’s right, I’m back at work for a large healthcare group using my new degree to help patients answer any questions they may have about their bills. It is exciting because it is a new job, but I find it doubly so because it is another first for me after my surgery.

Why do I get so excited over these firsts? Because I always have that doubt in the back of my head that I can still do it. I know it would seem that going to school full time would be a pretty good indication that you could survive an 8-hour work day and not be absolutely exhausted, but until you actually do it, there is still that little voice in the back of your head saying "what if?" Now I know I can do it, plus I can celebrate it, have fun, and enjoy it.

I hope you can all take a moment to celebrate your life and the things you can do after your surgeries. In other words, celebrate your firsts!


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