Posts by Katherine Buchanan

We have had dozens of bloggers since this blog began who have been so open with their stories. If you are interested in blogging, too, we'd love to hear from you. Please email

« View all authors

A New Sense of Living

by Katherine Buchanan on Monday, Feb 08, 2016

A little over two years ago I had my second heart surgery. I was a sophomore in college and terrified of the prospect of putting my life in someone else’s hands. While the support of my family and friends was immense and so meaningful, it could not put my fears of mortality and pain at bay.

The period of waiting and recovery was long, dramatic and difficult and defined by a rollercoaster of truly dynamic feelings. I remember walking around my college campus during the fall semester of my sophomore year feeling defined by limitations and drowning in the immense weight of my depression and anxiety.

Read more

Stress, Anxiety, Fear, Oh My!

by Katherine Buchanan on Monday, Nov 23, 2015

The summer is gone, replaced by fall. I swear 24 hours are so much longer in the summertime. As a student in my first semester of senior year of college, I have experienced a noticeable change of pace since I last blogged. While my summer was no means lackadaisical, the pressure of 17 hours of class on top of project demands, a campus job, and the need to find a “big girl” career—all while appearing to have my life together—is noticeably taking a larger toll on me than balancing work and fun this summer.

Read more

My CHD Rollercoaster

by Katherine Buchanan on Thursday, Aug 06, 2015

After recovering from open heart surgery a little over a year and a half ago, I was on a rollercoaster of emotions. I flew from being terrified of complications to rejoicing for the miracle of my life to feeling deep anxiety again with very little buffer in between the emotional turns. Though my surgeon ended my last appointment announcing my freedom to pursue whatever dreams I wished, the traumatizing experience of surgery, the realization of my heart’s vitality and the appreciation for the beauty of life kept me in a whirlwind state.

Read more

Friendship and CHD

by Katherine Buchanan on Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This weekend marked the end of an incredible school year for me as I finished up my junior year at Wofford College, a small liberal arts school in South Carolina. Instead of rushing home for summer plans, I chose instead to spend the weekend on campus, celebrating my senior friends with students from every class year who felt touched by their motivational presence on campus.

Read more

My Evolving CHD Identity

by Katherine Buchanan on Friday, Feb 27, 2015

I grew up like a number of congenital heart disease patients, believing I was cured of my heart disease. As a youth, my heart story was a really fun conversation starter in any awkward icebreaker activities that various group orientations threw my way. My senior year of high school, as I prepared for college, I decided to use the story of my cured heart to explain my passion for community service.

Occasionally I would show off my scar in some V-neck top or ask my parents about my baby open heart surgery story, but that was the extent of my CHD identity. My open heart surgery experience served as a fun, upbeat story to share at parties or to set me apart from others, but nothing more.

Read more

Sharing My CHD Story in France

by Katherine Buchanan on Tuesday, Dec 02, 2014

This semester I am fulfilling my dream of living in France. Here I am studying, eating, living and breathing in the beautiful southern region of the country nestled in the small, but still lively, city of Aix-en-Provence. In this beautiful city I have had the unique chance of making new friends, both American and French, who before September 5th knew nothing about me. In this new environment I had the opportunity to choose what role my congenital heart defects play in my life.

Upon my arrival, I started thinking on how to inform my new friends and host family about what I've been through, the good and the bad, and the unrelenting and life-loving spirit that my heart diagnosis and most recent surgery and recovery have given me.

Read more

Learning to Live Life at a Safe Pace

by Katherine Buchanan on Monday, Aug 18, 2014

Growing up in a household where exposure to the world’s diverse and incredible cultures was a priority, exploring the world has been a consistent dream on my horizon. After trips to Belize and Costa Rica, as well as an extensive number of classes in French and Spanish, my passion for world travel has grown and evolved.

Yet, after my diagnosis with congenital heart disease, worries about how my health would factor into this dream began to creep into my mind. With open heart surgery this past December, I was worried about my summer plans to travel to Europe and future dreams to travel to more remote and physically demanding places in the world. How would it feel to fly in an airplane? What if I had an emergency while abroad? Could my heart keep me from participating fully in the abroad experience?

Read more

Getting My Energy Back

by Katherine Buchanan on Friday, May 09, 2014

I biked up the steepest hill on campus yesterday morning after leaving my last fitness class of the semester. After my open heart surgery this Christmas I decided to come back to school and take a personal fitness course, hoping to build my strength and endurance to better than it was before the operation.

Our first class was a little over a month and a half after my surgery, and so my abilities were pretty limited. I was slower than my classmates, and while I did feel more energized than I had first semester, I was still sluggish and tired. However, as time distanced me from the surgery, I gained more energy and ability.

Read more

Positivity Through Surgery and Recovery

by Katherine Buchanan on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

When I found out I was going to have open heart surgery to repair my leaking mitral valve, I was terrified. Like others in the congenital heart disease community, I grew up thinking I was cured of my original defects—the cleft in my mitral valve and atrial septal defect—and had never heard the term "congenital heart disease" applied to me before.

When the doctors told me that this term was now part of my life and surgery was necessary within the year, I was overcome with fear. Before I knew of the heart problem I lived under the notion that I had the potential to live my life to the fullest—whether that be through my singing, studies or dreams of world travel. I envisioned an exciting future with many adventures ahead, but the news of open heart surgery tore at the foundations of my dreams.

Read more


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.