CAN I CALL MYSELF A SURVIVOR?
Jessica Leigh Street was born with an atrial septal defect but was not diagnosed until she was 22 years old. Jessica is now 23 and working towards her bachelors in social work. Jessica hopes to return to school soon after graduation to work towards receiving her master's degree in counseling. She aspires to become a counselor help other congenital heart disease patients and families.
Lately I’ve been wondering if I can classify myself as a survivor. I am not sure of my answer. Sometimes I wake up proud and feeling super strong that I made it through life with a broken heart. 22 years of living with a hole in your heart that no one was aware of and didn’t repair is a big deal or at least to me it is. I am proud that I made it through a surgery where my heart was stopped for two hours. Yes my heart was stopped and I survived! I am proud of my scar and that I had a super easy recovery. I am proud of what all I have been through but I am not sure if I can say I survived. As silly as it seems I am proud of God. I know He doesn’t need me to be proud of him but I am. He opened so many doors for me and he was by my side through the entire journey.
He literally held my heart in his hands.
I guess I am more grateful than proud but you get the idea, I am so amazed that God loved me enough to keep my “broken heart” hidden from doctors until the exact time He wanted it to be revealed. He kept me safe all those years while no one knew I was sick.
I am proud of my heart journey but I read stories about kids and adults who have had multiple open heart surgeries. Who have literally almost died and it makes me wonder if I am even as strong as I feel I am. Am I really a survivor?
I skipped right to the end of my journey
I only had 1 surgery instead of 3.
I read their stories of survival and think about my journey. I had the easiest heart journey you can have. Of course it was really tough and terrifying to me but in all honesty it was easy. From the outside looking in it was a really easy journey to have.
I was born with two heart defects one was a good defect and one was a bad defect. I was born with an extra vein leading from my heart to my lungs which helped me growing up and which also helped hide my symptoms of my “broken heart”. I also had a bad defect which was the ASD or the hole in my heart. So according to medical journals and doctors an ASD is one of the best defects to have. They are super easy to fix and you will probably only need 3 surgeries to repair them while you and your heart grow or usually they will grow up on their own. Sure ASDs are really easy to fix and they are not the worst congenital heart defect to have according to doctors and surgeons. However, I think it is the worst.
The worst congenital heart defect is the whatever defect you, your family member, or your friend have.
I know my defect was super easy to fix and it was not as complex as other defects but to me it felt like it was the end of the world or at least my world. So I guess I know that I did survive and I am a survivor but I still have days where I look at other people and think that I am not as strong as I think I am. To survive is to continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship. So I guess today I will say I survived.
I am a congenital heart disease survivor.
I’ve learned that just because some one has a harder journey than you doesn’t mean your journey isn’t hard. We all have different paths and we all have different strengths. I know to some people my heart story seems super simple and easy. At times it was super easy and simple but at times it was also the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. I am proud of my simple, easy, hard and terrifying heart journey. I am a survivor.
Tell Us: Do you wear the badge of “survivor?”
Read more about Jessica’s journey on her blog, TalkBraveGirl