How would you feel if you found out that your heart could stop beating at any moment? When I was twelve, in early September 2003, I went for a school physical to be eligible for Girls’ Athletics and the doctor detected a long, deep heart murmur. He got it further analyzed by a cardiologist as a precaution. I was referred to Dr. Meissner, which agitated me because I was certain that nothing was wrong. I had no idea that such a life changing experience was about to begin. Nothing in this world could have prepared me for what was coming my way.
He performed the standard tests. When he returned, the look on his face immediately told me that something was wrong. He began explaining my problem, which sounded like gibberish. He told me that I had a defect called Aortic Insufficiency, which meant my aorta allowed blood to flow both ways. He said that I would be lucky to live to be sixteen years old and that my chances were not good. My heart sank like a pebble thrown into a river. I was terrified because I had no idea what to expect.
He referred me to a Pediatric Cardiologist in San Antonio at Wilford Hall Medical Center, named Dr. Milhoan, who put me on a medication called Lisinopril to delay the surgery. However, my condition worsened and we had to schedule surgery. He gave me four options to choose from; all of which included open-heart surgery. I chose the Ross procedure, which is where they put my Pulmonary Valve in my Aorta’s place and a cadaver in place of my Pulmonary Valve. He scheduled the surgery for August 9th, 2004.
On the eighth of August, I traveled to San Antonio with my family. They did the necessary tests to make sure that I was stable enough to have the surgery. The worst part of those tests was getting my blood drawn. It gave me a severe phobia of needles and anytime the nurses would come in and say that I needed more blood drawn, I would cry because I knew what to expect.
On the ninth, at 6:00 in the morning, they took me in for the surgery. My surgery only took two hours after I was opened up, when it was expected to be an eight-hour surgery! However, I did need a blood transfusion because I lost more blood than was expected. The next morning, I woke up and felt no different than I did before my surgery. At first, I thought that I had drifted off for a few minutes, but then I looked around and noticed I was in a different room. I was still a little woozy from the anesthetics, but nonetheless, happy because the pain was kept under control.
Despite the pain, I made slow progress. One of the nurses had me sitting in a chair by Tuesday. I tried walking for the first time on Wednesday. With all the strength and might that I could muster, I took only three steps before I could not go on any more.
Thursday, I was transferred from the I.C.U. to the sixth floor, where I did not require as much care and Friday, I was released from the hospital. I had to stay at an apartment at Lackland A.F.B., because if I had any complications, it would be difficult to get me up to San Antonio in time. A week later, I was allowed to go home and see all my family and friends again.
I think the hardest part about this particular trial was how difficult it was to exercise my faith in God. I was in so much pain and suffering so deeply that I was afraid to have faith in Him and believe that it was going to be okay. I was told over and over again that I would be fine, but in order for me to believe it, I would have had to hear it from God, Himself. Now, I thank Him daily for saving my life. I went through pain that was so excruciating at times, but ultimately, it was the best blessing in my life. I am a stronger person because of it and even though I was in pain so severe that I wanted to let go at times, it seemed as though God was by my side the whole time helping me fight my way back. Everyday is a miracle for me and I thank God daily for allowing me to live to see yet another day and I never take life for granted. I take each trial and look upon it as a blessing. Trials are given to us to make us stronger and when we accept it and fight our way through it, He will be there helping us. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. There are no exceptions.