Having a "Big Heart" Isn't Always a Good Feature

May 3, 2017
By elliesmith32 BRONZE, Lawson, Missouri
elliesmith32 BRONZE, Lawson, Missouri
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

“My heart was racing with fear the day I figured out my daughter was going to have open heart surgery at the age of five,” my mom stated, frightened with fear.

Yes, when I was five years old, I was diagnosed with a serious heart problem: my heart was overly large, there was a hole in the center of it, and there were two transposed veins. This surgery was the most impacting event to ever occur in my life. My heart problem causes me to be most thankful for the amazing life I have and to not take anything for granted.

First of all, this horrific event in my life actually started with a slight miracle. It was a chilly Sunday afternoon, and the doctors’ offices were closed, but I needed to go somewhere because I had the flu. My family decided to transport me to the emergency room to get chest x-rays because my sickness caused my breathing to decrease. This x-ray discovered that my heart was oversized because it was not supposed to cross over the mid-line of the chest, and mine crossed over. The doctors did further testing to see if there were more problems, and, of course, there were. I was soon diagnosed with a hole in the atrium with two transposed veins that were traveling to the wrong chambers of my heart. My family and I were all scared for what was going to happen, but we knew that I definitely needed surgery.

I had what my parents thought was going to be a fairly easy fix, a heart catheterization. The doctors decided to have this type of surgery because it wasn’t as major as open heart surgery and they thought I wouldn’t need it. The doctors cut a hole up through the top part of my leg and used their superier tools to go up to my heart and repair it.

During the first surgery, my doctors realized that this surgery wasn’t going to fix the entire problem I had some of them came out to the waiting area to consult with my parents. They told my parents that I would need to go the full mile of open heart surgery. This made their stomachs drop and they were nervous, which every parent obviously would be; my mom was crying uncontrollably. Then had to do what was necessary for my health, my parents scheduled a date for May 28, 2008 for the big one: my open heart surgery.

Third of all, it was the day: May 28, 2008. I was in a ball of worries with crazy thoughts that were running through my mind. I was waiting in the Children’s Mercy Hospital colorful chairs to begin the surgery and to hopefully to have a refurbished heart; this was a nerve racking moment that I remember clearly. Some of the memories are hazy in my mind because we scheduled the surgery primarily early in the morning; plus, I was at a very young age. One of the heartwarming memories I have is when the doctors put me under anesthesia for the surgery to begin, I fell asleep in my dad’s arms in my favorite blanket. I remember drifting off with my parents as the focus of my eyes.

“This moment was scary and I just wanted my little girl to be completely healthy,” my mom and dad proclaimed.
“I prayed that my little sister would come back from the surgery better than ever,” my brother retorted worriedly.

Every day, I love to realize that I am so grateful and I know that my family has always cared for me and will support me through everything.

Next, my surgery was very precise and complicated at the same time. First of all, the doctors put a breathing tube that hooked up to a ventilator (a machine that helps breathing) down my throat for me to breathe constantly while I was in surgery. Then, the doctors made a six to eight inch incision using a rib separator (when I was little I called it a “chest saw”) to get the heart out for it to be revamped.

When I first heard the story of the full surgery, because I didn’t know every detail during the time, I was like “Ow!” The best part, though, is that I never felt pain during the surgery until the aftermath, in the days and months that followed.

The next part of the surgery continued and I was hooked up to a heart-lung bypass machine that occupied the beating for my heart since it was no longer going to be connected to my body while it the doctors repaired it. This machine needed to cooperate because it took over my heart’s pumping action and it moved the blood away from my heart so the doctors could restore it. Specialists were also needed to oversee the works of my body to make sure I was still breathing while the doctors operated on the repairs of my heart. Other medicines and tubes were inserted into my body so I could have enough oxygen, have my blood flowing, have no blood clots, to drain the fluids, and to remove the carbon dioxide in my blood flow during the surgery.

The following step was when the doctors took my heart out of my chest and repaired the hole in the atrium. They also had to fix the two transposed veins in my chest, but sadly, they could only fix one of them because there wasn’t an operation that could fix the vein under the time of the operation. That meant that one of my veins is still overloading the blood flow on the right side of my heart. This does not affect me today that I know of, but it still is a worry and strain on my heart.

Of course, my heart was still large for my age, but the doctors proposed that I would just have to grow into it.  After the doctors mended the hole, they restored blood flow back into my body and the doctors had to give two mild-electric shocks that restarted my heart; it was soon placed back inside my body. The surgeons removed the tubes and stopped the bypass machine. The doctors used wires to close up my chest that are permanently installed in my body. They used staples and stitches to close up my chest (those were removed after my chest healed). There was a huge bandage that was placed over my closed incision.

Finally, the three hour surgery was over and it was time to begin the healing in the long process to get me healthy again. The surgery turned out successful which makes me more thankful that they made my heart stronger.

Immediately after the surgery, I was transported to different rooms for recovery. I still have the enlightened vison of my whole family waiting for me in shock after my entire surgery. I was very weak, frail, and my voice was super high and squeaky, but I got around okay. I am so appreciative for the best family in the whole world for being there the whole time with me. My family took care of me when I got sick, was throwing up, I couldn’t go to the bathroom, or when I couldn’t take a shower comfortably. In addition, I could barely walk across the room because I was so weak and I even had to use a walker.

In particular, I remember that I was not pleasant to anyone who visited me in the hospital to check on me. People brought me balloons, candy, flowers, teddy bears, etc. A very important event that happened to me was when Troy Green, John Bright, and Logan Pettz brought me a giant teddy bear. This day completely brightened my mood because they were my idols and I loved them. On that specific day, I was as smiley as a little kid on Christmas morning getting a puppy. When people visited, I was in various moods and I tried to be happy, but some days my emotions were like a roller coaster because there was no way to tell how I was going to act. There were so many special people who visited me in the hospital and I am very appreciative for that. I gained strength throughout the days, but I finished the full recovery at home. I got through all of the hard troubles within five days at the hospital thanks to my supportive family. 

To conclude, my life now is the most marvelous I could ever imagine. I overcame being weak and now I am stronger than ever. Some people with heart conditions were not allowed to play sports and I was scared that it was going to happen to me. Fortunately, it did not, and at the age of 14, I play four sports: volleyball, basketball, golf, and track. Sports are my world and they mean everything to me.

In my today life, I go to my heart doctor every single year for a checkup to make sure that I continue to be healthy. Every year, my diagnosis keep improving and now my heart is normal sized! There is still my one transposed vein in my body that so far does not need fixing, but everything else is strong. I do not have very many difficulties today with my heart, and the condition doesn’t bother me throughout my life.

Furthermore, I have a miraculous life and I think my heart problem, that I was diagnosed with affected me in a positive but different way. The slight miracle I received from going to get chest x-rays while I had the flu changed me forever. Without those x-rays, my heart problem might not have been discovered which could’ve led to much worse effects. It’s amazing how my five-year old body getting the flu could change my life forever.

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