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Posts by Deb Flaherty-Kizer

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Fear, Concern, The Pool, and Coronavirus

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Friday, Apr 03, 2020

Living with congenital heart disease, I have a predisposition to fear. I’m fearful about what the next doctor’s visit will reveal, fearful about what the next test will show, fearful about dying young.

I am working on channeling this into something more positive. The more I think about it, the more fear seems to imply passivity and giving up control. Fear often keeps you frozen in inaction and afraid.

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Because of CHD

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Tuesday, Feb 06, 2018

None of us wanted congenital heart disease. None of us wanted to endure the countless doctors’ visits, surgeries, and limited activity that often accompany CHD. However, looking back over my 60 plus years living with CHD, I have been able to find teachings and blessings.

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CHD and Sports

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Friday, Jul 07, 2017

Sports? Me? No way. “Sports” and “athlete” were never words in my vocabulary. My CHD diagnosis was not made until I was a young adult—it was thought I just had a heart murmur—so I never linked my tiredness to a heart condition. I was not athletic as a child, never understanding why I couldn’t run as fast as the other kids or keep up with them in gym class. I was usually the last one picked for a team, and was often bullied for my lack of athletic prowess. For me, team sports did not work. I felt like a total failure in all things athletic. Thank goodness, I excelled at academics.

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Ways to Beat Stress

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Thursday, May 04, 2017

Stress, both good and bad, is part of life. Most of us experience the stressors of work, school, and family that we must deal with regularly. There are also event stressors such as starting a new job, moving, losing a loved one, and so on. The list is endless.

However, living with a congenital heart disease can pose additional stressors—surgeries, recoveries, checkups, and medical exams come loaded with their own unique stressors.

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Dealing With CHD During the Winter

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Thursday, Nov 03, 2016

Cold. Ice. Snow. Dark at morning and dark at night. The joys of winter. Ugh! Living with congenital heart disease (CHD) –or any disease—in winter can pose special challenges. I often wonder why in the world I moved to upstate New York, where a foot of snow is described as “just a dusting.”

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A Helping Hand in a Patient's Recovery

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016

At my birth, one of the nurses told my mom I wasn’t going to live. I had something “wrong” with my heart, but none of the doctors at the time knew what. Well, at 59 years old, I guess I proved that nurse wrong!

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A Look Back and a Look Forward

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Friday, Jan 08, 2016

This New Year’s Eve, I reflected on how 2015 was challenging and yet awesome. The “main event” for me was my open heart surgery on May 21. Preparing myself mentally, physically, and emotionally took up most of the year’s first five months.

My two weeks spent at the hospital are somewhat of a blur—“by design,” as my cardiologist later told me. My three-week rehabilitation stay and the difficult and arduous recovery that followed (and continues) are forever etched in my memory. I am so grateful for the staffs at both facilities who took such wonderful care of me.

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OHS Recovery: A Series of Firsts

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Friday, Oct 16, 2015

One lesson learned from recovery is to appreciate the simple things in life and not take anything for granted. Life for me has become a series of firsts.

I remember the first time I walked in my front door after surgery. It took my husband Keith about 10 minutes to take out the huge oxygen tank, set up the walker, and help me out of the car. It seemed to take forever!

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Riding the OHS Recovery Rollercoaster

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Wednesday, Aug 12, 2015

I feel like I am on a county fair ride rather than being home recuperating. I’ve had ups, downs, sideways turns, and spins. So, what have I learned during my recovery so far?

Expect the unexpected. I was all set to leave my rehabilitation facility when a 6-hour nosebleed kept me there another week. I’ve learned to realize that these things happen, and that I will get through them.

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The Pre-Surgery Rollercoaster

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Monday, May 18, 2015

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” This quote from Winnie the Pooh has been my mantra during the past few weeks as I ride the pre-surgery rollercoaster. I find myself vacillating between "I will rock this surgery" to "I will not make it through."

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On Giving Up Control

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015

Preparing for surgery has brought out a bit of my dark side—I am a Type A person with a need for control. I don’t like things left to chance. I need to have everything worked out to the last tiny detail. While I am also a woman of faith and believe spiritually and intellectually that God, or a supreme being, is in control, it is not something I relinquish easily.

Surgery, however, is filled with many unknowns. For example, I don’t know exactly how long I will be in the hospital. When making plans to board our dog while I am in the hospital, I did not like not knowing when exactly I would be picking him up.

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When It’s Time for Surgery

by Deb Flaherty-Kizer on Tuesday, Feb 17, 2015

“She’ll never live.” These were the first words a new mother heard from the attending nurse when her child was born. The baby was blue, weighed less than four pounds, and had some type of serious heart “problem.” That child was me.

As a child, I never really understood exactly what condition I had or what the severity of it was. My pediatrician only noted that I had a heart “murmur,” my heart sounding like galloping horses. In hindsight, I can appreciate that in the late 1950s, medical science and diagnostic tools weren't where they are today, making an accurate and complete diagnosis difficult.

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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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