Heart Surgery Musings.

So I’ve been sitting here reading blogs in my PJs for the past….oh I don’t know. I don’t think I want to tell you how long I’ve been sitting here. It’d probably be embarassing ๐Ÿ˜›

But anyway. As I sit here, I’ve been noticing my omnipresent open heart surgery scar.
I don’t know why, but the past couple days I’ve been thinking about that surgery a lot.
10 years ago, a month before I turned 9, I had open heart surgery to fix anย atrial septal defect. And I now have a lovely scar along my chest. It’s always there, and always will be. But I usually don’t notice it unless someone who doesn’t know I had surgery tries to point it out in an inconspicuous way so that they merely seem curious and not like they were checking me out or anything like that. This makes for some fabulously awkward scenarios, it’s a lot of fun actually. If I was a mean person I’d definitely milk this more instead of immediately recognizing what they were talking about and saying it’s no big deal, people ask about it all the time.

ANYWAY. Point is, I have this scar that’s about 5-6″ long smack dab in the middle of my chest, but I don’t notice it. And when I do, I remember how much I like it. It’s what makes me ME, in a sense. :]

Everyone always asks me if I was scared to have the surgery. It’s kind of an intense operation. I still don’t know exactly what it entails [it’s sort of a hard thing for me to research [emotionally that is], but I’ve been trying anyway, cause I’m curious like that] – but basically you’re sliced open, ribcage is split in half, heart is taken out and you’re put on a heart-lung machine, and when it’s all done…they somehow wire you back together with stitches and cool modern medical techniques.
To be honest, I had absolutely NO idea what open heart surgery entailed until my freshman year of high school. I didn’t know why it was such a big deal and why I hurt so bad afterwards or why they told me not to play on a swingset for weeks after the surgery [I was swinging outside the day I got home anyway, haha].

It wasn’t until I was 14 and in biology class and my teacher, Mrs. Jones [one of my favorite teachers ever, to this very day] brought up the topic of how grueling open heart surgery is that I started to actually THINK about what I went through.
And how serious that whole thing probably was.
And then a few years later I was a Junior in seminary, and for some reason my teacher brought up open heart surgery. He described a video that he had seen on Discovery Health pretty graphically. It made me uncomfortable. I couldn’t figure out why.

Within the last year, I saw the movie Seven Pounds. I loved it. But it touched me in a way that I wasn’t expecting it to.
One of the characters is in her early/mid twenties, and she has a critical heart condition.
That would have been me, had I not had this surgery 10 years before.

My ASD was discovered on a fluke. I had one weird heart palpitation when I was in 2nd grade [it was during math and when I leaned against my desk, it shook. Because my heart was beating so hard.], and I went to the nurse. Then to my family doctor. Neither could hear a murmur, but the doctor took an EKG. After that I was sent to a pediatric cardiologist, who heard the murmur right off the bat.
After that I was subjected to multiple EKGs and heart sonograms and doctors’ appointments. I was told that I had a hole in my heart that needed to be sewn up. I would need surgery ย – my parents and family friends all seemed extremely worried.
I didn’t see what the big deal was. I mean, I’ve had stitches on the outside before, so what’s the big deal with getting them inside too?? I think my biggest concern was having thread stuck inside my body and needing the stitches “taken out” later. But they told me they were using a special kind of thread that dissolved, so my worries disappeared!

I think the absolute worst part of the whole ordeal for me was getting my blood drawn before the surgery.
That was not a pleasant experience.
I don’t exactly remember WHY it was so awful, the nurses were nice and everything, but I did not like it one bit.
I still hate getting blood tests and to this day I cannot bring myself to donate blood. ๐Ÿ˜›

At some point, they told me the hole in my heart was the size of a half dollar.
I’d never seen one of those before, so I just stashed that away in my memory bank for future reference.
I acquired a half dollar sometime within the last year.
My baby sister also turned 9 in September.
I was her size. With a hole THAT big in my heart. No wonder I had issues with my cardiovascular system…
It’s finally hitting home.