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The Infamous PFO

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What’s so great about the heart? I mean, it pumps blood and keeps you alive, but most of us probably don’t think about all its doings and how it sustains our life. That is, until there’s a problem with it.
My heart is different. While more than three quarters of the population have a healthy heart, over a quarter of the population, including myself, have a hole in their heart. Most people don’t even realize they have it, so why would I care so much about it? To me, my heart is a symbol. It’s something to believe in. With that said, I believe in my heart--holes and all-- because it reminds me that good things will come when everything else seems to be crumbling.
I have a PFO- a Patent Foramen Ovale- which is basically a hole in my heart. While I was still in the fetal stages, I had a foramen ovale in between the right and left chambers. During infancy it is supposed to close, but mine only closed half way.
Growing up, I never truly understood why I was constantly at the doctors. At the age of three I was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder. This is where my metabolism is 3 times faster than an average person. I burn straight through all food and don’t gain any protein. While others were playing, I’d still be inside in the bathroom because of hemorrhoids. While others showed off their favorite stuffed animals at show n tell, I was showing off my hospital bracelets. While others learned how to play sports, I was in an open white room with a really nice lady who told me I wasn’t okay.
No one understood what was wrong with my heart. No one knew for years. The only answer they had was another diagnosis; A degenerative tissue disorder. This is where I don’t have a lot of tissue surrounding my organs and bones. I thought one disorder was bad, and now I have two. I never thought anything good could come of this. A year later I was proven right. My question about my heart was finally answered, with my third condition. I had a hole in my heart, and it wasn’t going away anytime soon.
I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want to be treated like a sick child. I didn’t want anyone’s sympathy. When I was finally comfortable with sharing my condition, one girl crushed all of my willingness to share in a single conversation. It was a day in the fall during the 8th grade. She looked at me in science class and said, “ Why don’t you eat a burger or something?”. I remember thinking, “ I actually had two burgers for dinner last night”. I ignored her comment and explained to her my condition. She looked at me and said, “ I wish I had that”. I’ve never been so angry. Why would you want this? Why would you want to replace a childhood of happiness with a childhood in a hospital?
My second home was Children's Hospital. This is where I spent most my free time. I had to get ECGs( echocardiograms). During these I would spend an hour or so laying down in a hospital bed while my heart was monitored by a stick with cool feeling gel. I had this done every 6 months, because they feared that my hole would grow. These ECGs became a normal thing for me, but one stood out. And to this day it will always stand out to me. It was 2014 and it was a hot day in the middle of June. I sat in the white room with little hope. Since my diagnosis I knew that nothing was going to change. I was extremely wrong. My doctor came in and sat down in the short swirly chair next to me. She looked different. Her eyes seemed to have become wide and she wasn’t able to hold back her smile. She open my thick yet crisp file. “ Well Gracie, here’s the good news”. I figured she was just going to say that my hole hasn’t changed. Same news I get everytime. She looked at me for the first time with hope in her eyes. “ Your hole hasn’t changed. With that said, you don’t need to come in for two years.” Even though it was still physically broken, my heart felt whole for the first time in a long time.I left the building with a big smile on my face and the feeling of change. I knew things were going to get better.
I’ve always had issues gaining weight. Weighing only 25 pounds in kindergarten, the main concern was that my tissue around my heart will become weak and my hole will grow. I was sitting in the waiting room on another boring Monday morning. The nurse called me back for the typical procedure; weigh in, check pressure, wait for the doctor. I didn’t expect anything exciting to come out of these few simple tasks that I’ve completed thousands of times. I stepped on the scale and closed my eyes and waited till she said my weight. For the past 5 years I remained 86-96 pounds. I never got higher than 96 pounds. So why would this time be different? I slowly opened my eyes to her saying the glorious words I’ve dreamt of hearing for years. Tears began to fill my eyes and I jumped up in joy. 100.1 pounds. I did it. I finally reached 100. I felt like the little child who finally said their ABCs correct for the first time. I felt like the baby bird who always dreamt of flying and finally flew. Although it was a small task, it was a moment of content and a change in my happiness.
I believe in change. I believe that no matter what, what’s meant for you will find a way to you. I believe that just because you physically aren’t okay, that doesn’t define if you are emotionally okay. I believe that you should love your flaws as much as you love your perfections. I believe that everyone has something unique about them and that’s a good thing.I believe that everyone deserves happiness.  With all that I believe in, I believe in my heart because it reminds me that good things will come when everything else seems to be crumbling.

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