Tag Archives: heart

The History of My Heart

13 Feb

It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. And seeing as how I was born with one, I thought I’d share my story for the sake of awareness. 😉 Thanks to my mom for helping me get the facts straight.

It started when I was 6 months old. I got double pneumonia and one of my lungs collapsed, so I had to be hospitalized. About a year later, I got pneumonia again. During that time, my family had temporarily relocated to Endicott, New York, for my dad’s job with IBM. During my post-recovery checkup, my doctor there noticed that my heart didn’t sound right, so he recommended that my mom get me checked out after we returned to Rochester, Minnesota.

Almost immediately after returning to Rochester, when I was about 2, my parents took me in for an EKG. They discovered that I had an atrial septal defect.

Asd-webAs my parents explained it to me growing up, I had a hole in my heart, so the blood flowed where it shouldn’t. My lungs were ‘squishy’ with extra fluid, which is why I kept getting pnuemonia.

There was a chance, though, that the hole would close itself. So my parents waited to see if it would. But by the time I turned 4, it still hadn’t so they decided to move forward with the surgery. Open heart surgery.

The year was 1987. AIDS was getting a lot of attention (and fear) in America. The doctors told my parents that they couldn’t guarantee that the blood transfusions they’d give me during surgery would be HIV free. My parents were not having that, so they both got tested and my mom’s blood was the closer match. The doctors thought they could probably find a closer match from the blood bank, but my mom’s was close enough.

Now the only problem was that the blood bank wasn’t set up for someone to donate for another specific person. You could donate blood for yourself, or for other people in general, but it took a lot of negotiating with the blood bank and surgeon to convince them to let my mom donate blood for me. Finally, they allowed it, and over the course of a couple months, my mom donated 5 units of blood.

The day of surgery arrived. Since I was so young, I don’t remember a ton. I remember playing in a play room with other young patients before my surgery. And I remember waking up with a breathing tube down my throat. That’s about it.

So here’s what my mom remembers:

I arrived at the hospital the night before and my mom stayed with me. She was most worried about me having to get a breathing tube put in. I was brave though, and waved as I was wheeled into surgery, not on a bed but in a little red wagon.

The doctors had planned to cut me open straight up and down, but my mom requested that they not. So instead, they cut me horizontally from the middle of my chest across to under my right arm. I have a scar there, and 2 more on my stomach – one on the side, one on the upper front – from tubes.

During surgery, the doctors stopped my heart to close the hole. That’s amazing to me.

I was in the hospital for 5 days. I recovered very quickly, and was up and running around in no time. I didn’t complain much about the stitches.

I’m lucky that my heart defect was fixed by surgery, and that I lived in a time and place to have access to modern medicine. I have not had any side effects or issues with my heart or health since then. Though I do like to joke that maybe that’s why I’m such a slow runner…

My mom actually had a congenital heart disorder too. Hers was a Patent Ductus Arteriosus. She had surgery when she was 5 in the year 1958. It was the first kind of heart surgery doctors were able to perform successfully. She stayed in the hospital for 10 days.

Approximately 9 in 1,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect. At Emma’s last doctor appointment, they observed that she has an innocent heart murmur. They said it’s nothing to be concerned about, and most kids outgrow theirs, but it’s definitely something I’m going to keep an eye on, given my history. I can’t imagine going through with Emma what my parents went through with me!

Anyway, that’s my story!

My Sure and Steadfast Anchor.

12 May

I have been MIA from the blogging world because life has exploded. I started my new job, our dogs are misbehaving left and right, people are having babies, getting married, and graduating from high school, and I’m training for a triathlon, cooking dinner, doing laundry, cleaning, gardening, etc. I’m taking it one day at a time.

My spiritual life has been suffering the most. I’ve been trying to work out a flow to my mornings so that I can both train and get in the Word. I’m starting to think that getting in the Word at lunch might be more realistic but I would prefer the morning. So I’m still experimenting (getting up at 5 am is hard after being unemployed!). Combine my inconsistency with the Word with having a new job and daily schedule and I feel like I’m living in a twilight zone.

This happened to me when I started my job for the triathlon company last year and it wore off after a few weeks, so I’m not too worried. But I miss God! I just feel spiritually distant, as if God isn’t relevant or intimate in this new realm I’m living in.

Today during lunch, I sat down at my computer with my small, waterlogged Bible that Travis took to Ghana and this is what came out:

In the midst of chaos

I know God is still there

But I’m lost in transience

Unhinged from reality

Trying to run to Truth

With my heart as the hurdle


What happened to my grip on eternity,

My basking in forever,

My praise of the Glorious One

This earth doesn’t know?


My only comfort is You

A Rock of strength in a heart of quicksand

You uphold me when I’m lost at sea

All my driftings are charted

On Your map

And You’ll lead me home again


For You have prepared me

For this very thing



I didn’t take the time to edit it much so it’s pretty raw and I haven’t written a poem in years — poetry is the way I express my heart when there aren’t sufficient words for how I feel. So that’s where I am right now. I am so thankful that, like Matt Redman writes in his song How Great is Your Faithfulness,:

Everything changes, but You stay the same
Your word and kingdom endure
We lean on the promise of all that You are
And trust forevermore
We will trust forevermore
Hopefully one of these days I’ll have time for a longer post!

Valentine’s Day Cookie

12 Feb

Travis was gone yesterday and today on a work trip. The perfect time to get his Valentine’s Day present ready–a giant chocolate chip cookie heart with chocolate frosting and red hots. (See my Valentine’s Day Cookie).

If the cookie looks good to you, you’re right–it is good. Since I gave up chocolate for Lent, it was a test of willpower to bake this scrumptious cookie. This was actually my second attempt. The first one, I shaped exactly how I wanted it before I put it in the oven–so it came out looking like a circle pretty much. The second time around, though, I got smart and made the shape very exaggerated. And it came out good!

Anyway, back to the first attempt. It was all gooey in the middle and fell into about 12 different pieces as I tried to scrape it off the pan. And then I had all this chocolatey gooey goodness sitting there on the counter staring me in the face. It was screaming “Eat me! Eat me!” I even felt my fingers twitch. But I didn’t do it! I didn’t eat chocolate! I am so proud of my willpower (because usually I don’t have much when it comes to baking).

I am, however, going to freeze the chocolatey gooey goodness until after Easter. Then I am chowin’ down!