When I was born, my skin was very blue and doctors also noticed abnormal sounds when checking my heart. They discovered that I suffered from a Tricuspid Valve Atresia type IIb and a pulmonary valve stenosis. This means that I basically have only half a working heart. Due to this, I have undergone several openheart surgeries, including a Fontan-Kreutzer procedure at four years old, and got a pacemaker implanted at 28 years old.
As a child, my growth was slower compared to other children, due to my cardiac defect. My older sister (3 years older) had an incredible understanding of the situation, which was only possible by my parents never neglecting her and making a point of giving her the attention she needed too. Of course my parents were more careful and precautious with me, but all in all my childhood has been very normal. I am glad, that my parents tried everything to treat me as normal as possible.
Living with a heart condition isn’t always easy, as you experience limitations, for example when it comes to sports, and many are dependant on medication. But since this is the only life I know, I always tried to make the most of it. Being born with only half a heart somehow didn’t make me weaker, but instead pushed me to be even more independent, stronger and value my time even more. Spending long periods of time in hospital and being dependant on the help of others, made me determined to stand on my own two feet, as much as I can.
My health is my most valued asset to me. Therefore I am trying to treat my body as well as I can. Even though I do love to sneak in cookies, chocolate and fast food, I am mainly trying to follow a very vegan or at least vegetarian diet. Moreover, I do not smoke and rarely ever drink. Exercise is a big part of my life, which is always a balance of training my heart just enough to keep up the good work and not pushing it too far. Often heart patients are afraid to exercise in fear of hurting their heart, but light exercise modified to your situation will ensure a better future!
Getting to terms with the scars caused by all the operations I have had in my life was not always easy, and there are days where I am still upset about them. In these moments it is important to have friends and family around you, who accept you for who you are. I am not my medical condition. It is a big part of me, but I will not allow it to take over my life.
In general, I noticed that I am much more aware of the value of time and my health. My heart condition taught me to truly appreciate the present moment, and to find joy in the small things. Luckily, so far I have been able to achieve all the things I wanted i.e. do sports, go horse riding, travel, work normal jobs, have relationships and so on, and I intend to keep it that way.