These past few months have been pretty…hard for me. I guess you can say I was naive or perhaps grossly uninformed (maybe underinformed), but I had no idea that a day that started as a 4am wake up, a walk into an O.R. with an anesthesiologist named Erin and a few IVs for meds to ‘relax’ would end up in a 11 plus week mindfuck. I can’t really think of a better way to describe it.
For those of you who don’t know, at the beginning of July I had open heart surgery to repair my pulmonary valve that decided it was tired of working. After all, it did hold out a pretty amazing 28 years, so can I really complain? I was born with a congenital birth defect called tetralogy of fallot (click on that to learn more about it). Basically that meant a lot of doctors visits for me as a kid where I would be doing so amazingly that everyone would be thrilled and we’d always talk about how “one day” I’d need another surgery.
I found out in March that I’d be needing another (my first was at 3 months old…awww) surgery and I pretty much thought it was like no thing. I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t want to deal with knowing that someone would saw my chest and cut my heart open. I mean, would you?
That day in July approached a lot quicker than I had thought and I can’t even remember if I cried when I had to leave my family to go into the O.R. We had waited two hours past my ‘surgical appointment’ time because a baby needed a heart transplant and my surgeon was busy. I was pretty hungry and thirsty and sick of sitting in a huge open room with lots of hospital beds. I do remember waking up and pretty much wishing I was dead. I was hot, I was still intubated (aka breathing tube down your throat) and in a lot of pain. I obviously couldn’t talk and I started freaking out because I a) couldn’t talk b) was in a lot of pain and c) was basically choking on the breathing tube. Finally I passed out. Basically the first 24 hours after my surgery are a blur filled with pain, pain and some more pain.
The next were basically the same. With the added bonus of some nausea. I didn’t eat a ton while I was in the hospital because I couldn’t. I was always hot. I was too out of it to even want to watch TV or talk. I just sat there and hoped that maybe I could sleep. There was no pinning, or Facebook or texting until day four. Not because I didn’t want to but because I couldn’t. I could barely move my arms. I had IVs everywhere. I was beyond exhausted. I just couldn’t. And that was pretty much when I realized, really realized, that I just had my chest sawed open and my heart cut open and all the blood taken out of my body and circulated through a machine and that I probably wouldn’t be okay for a long time.
Getting home wasn’t much easier. It was better to be at home but it was also scary since I couldn’t even pour my own water or carry my own purse. Hell, I couldn’t even get off the couch…or on it, for that matter. Just think of every movement you make on a daily basis that involves using muscles in your chest and being unable to do them. It’s nearly everything. Luckily for me, my boyfriend was (and still is) absolutely amazing. He had to feed me (literally), shower me, help me walk to the bathroom, get in bed and out of bed, get me water, give me my pills, he did everything. I honestly have no idea what I’d do without him. Yes, my parents came to town, I’m not an orphan. They babysat me during the day the first week I was at home while my boyfriend was at work.
But when I got home, I started to get really frustrated. I’m a pretty independent person and not being able to do anything for myself quickly launched me into a pretty awful depression. I would be out for my daily 10 minute walk and just break down in tears. I felt like a shell of the person I once was. I didn’t even have enough energy to sit on my computer and blog. It didn’t help that I’m also really hard on myself and just would not cut myself any breaks. None. Ever. And when you’re not working for 8+ weeks with really nothing to do, and nothing you can really do that starts to seriously mess with your head. I didn’t expect that. At all.
I don’t know what I expected, but what I got wasn’t it. I thought “oh, yea it’ll hurt, its a big deal…but I’ll be out of work for like four weeks…max”. And now I want to go back and punch myself. But day by day I got better, until I got pericarditis which was really, really awful. Once the doctors figured out what was wrong with me, I started to get better again. I’m not even back to normal yet, and I still don’t feel great about it, if I’m being completely honest. But I’m cutting myself some slack and allowing me not to be myself.
hang in there— you are an amazing inspiration to all of us! take some time to catch up on some good books, light some candles, and just relax! xo
You’ve been through a major surgery, don’t be hard on yourself, your body needs time to recover! You’re so so strong, thanks for sharing your journey with your blogging buddies. Thinking of you.
🙁 You are such a strong person, and I’m so sorry you went through (and are still going through) all of this. Hang in there. Lots of people are thinking of you and are on your side!!!!!
You are brave and you are a soldier. Try (I know it’s hard) not to be so hard on yourself. This is a BIG deal. I’m so glad you’re on the other side though. Hang in there, lady 🙂 xoxo
1) you are awesome, 2) I’m so sorry the past few months have been so shitty, and 3) eventually this will just be a blip in the distance.
But for now, when it’s not, just know that lots of blog people (and real people) love you and are sending you cheesy happy thoughts and wishes.
Sometimes life just sucks. But it’s almost always temporary, at least.
Chris I has no idea! Glad you made it through and are on the mend (I sound like an old lady saying that haha). I’ll be in ny in a few weeks, maybe we can try to get together! xoxo Tin
Having our awful moments in life lets is really appreciate the “normal day to day” moments and bask in the great moments.
Thank you for being so open about how hard this is for you, it’s refresh to read something real.
Sorry for the typo’s
You are so brave to have written this–and to have gone through all that. Thinking about you–it sounds like you’ve rounded a corner. You’re a champion!
You are such a kick ass chick. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for you, but I do know that you are a trooper and way stronger than you know. This was a wonderful post! And yes, start cutting yourself some slack stat!!
You are amazing and strong. Don’t beat yourself up, let yourself heal. I remember wondering after my stroke if I would ever feel normal again. I’m here to tell you that you will, I promise you will. One day you will think back to this period of your life with awe and a maybe little bit of sadness. But mainly awe at how strong you actually are.
You’ve been through a war with your own body! That’s an absolutely incredible stress, and I’m so impressed that you’ve handled it and come through to the other side able to speak about it so calmly and frankly.
Why you gotta make me cry? Gurl. You are inspiring. Keep being a badass, and make AJ get you Dean&Deluca on the reg. xo
Thanks for sharing your story – I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I hope you start feeling back to your usual self, but glad you’re giving yourself grace to not be OK for as long as you need. You’re so loved. xoxo
Aww lady, I’m sorry you’ve been through hell for the past couple of months. 🙁
The truth is, you really are strong and we all know that things will get better. Hang in there, stay positive, and be nice to your man. Sounds like he deserves it.
Sending you lots of love and well wishes,
Thanks for opening up. I can’t even imagine what that kind of major surgery feels like, both in your heart and physically. But I do totally understand how frustrating it is to lose your independence to some extent (foot surgery, 28 weeks on crutches). So effing frustrating. Sounds like you are making some great strides. You are an inspiration.
Thanks so much for sharing this. I have a friend who had heart surgery a week ago. The doctors finally said ‘that’s it, surgery time for you’. She’s going home today and super excited to be outside and so positive about her life but she can only walk 10 metres (3 feet?) without being exhausted and is so independent like you that I worry when she gets home she’ll be so frustrated. I hope she isn’t and I hope she stays positive, but if she does get down on herself I will show her this post so she knows she is not the only one out there going through this and that just because you’re young, healthy and positive, doesn’t mean heart surgery isn’t a big deal and a huge thing for your body to cope with. Take care of yourself. Love you and your blog so much, you’re like another version of me on the other side of the world 🙂 xo
This was great to read- I’m so glad you shared your personal story. Thinking of you!
<3 <3 <3
I’m so sorry you are going through this Christin. I cannot imagine how scary the experience must have been/be. I’m thinking of ya, girl.
Christin, what you went through is pretty serious, it really makes me sad of all the pain you went through 🙁 and all I can think of is how the hell didn’t I visit you while in NY, I’m seriously the worst person. You need to take time to heal, and just do what feels good for you. Forget about missing days of blogging, what matters is that you get back to your own self again. I can relate with the whole being independent thing, I’m like that too, but you must think of what you’ve been through and how important it is to take it easy, Let others help you. You’re so lucky to have someone so kind by your side to help you get through all of this. I hope you get back to your normal self soon! Take lots of care you brave girl!
im proud of you for writing this – and for finally giving yourself a much-needed break. it will get better, i promise! xx
oh my gosh! well i’m glad you’re doing well. i hope you heal quickly every day. i can only imagine how frustrating it is to not be able to do things for yourself but i’m so glad you’ll be healthy soon!
Definitely cut yourself slack, I cannot imagine going through that both physically and mentally and it is so important you allowed yourself the time to properly recover – stronger than you know!
so moving to read, and though my own surgery was at age 13 (for an aortic aneurysm) i also have a valve issue and a looming “future” surgery to repair it, although who knows when that will be. the feeling that you have lost independence is so crippling and it can be so hard to take things one day at a time.
keep on putting one foot in front of the other, and thank you again for being open about this crazy time in your life!
sending lots of virtual (gentle) hugs your way, sista. cut yourself some MAJOR slack lady- you are going through something that a minute amount of the population could even fathom (myself included), so just remember the time it takes to fully bounce back is just the time it takes.
give you BF a high five for me for taking good care of you!!
Hang in there, friend. Your body is doing some major work repairing itself so don’t be too hard on it for it taking longer than you expected. You are awesome and I have no doubt you’ll be feeling more like your super cool independent self in no time. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this story with your readers! I can totally understand the frustration of wanting to be independent— but just let yourself relax and allow your body to do what it needs to repair. The world (physical and digital) will be here when you get back to 100%! Love your blog—keep up the great work!
you are a badass. you will heal and things will get back to normal. but give it time because your body has no idea what the hell just happened and is trying to do the best it can. also, i was totally serious about sending you treats.
I just wanted to tell you how amazing I think you are for not only going through what you went through, but for sharing it on the internet. I’m an operating room nurse so I see every day what these surgeries are like, and for a 20-something year old to have to have open heart surgery…well, when I read it it made me gasp. I just wasn’t expecting you to say that. When I read in your previous post that you had surgery, I figured it was an appendectomy or something. Anyway I’m not really sure how to say this, but what I’m trying to say is that I admire your courage for sharing this, and going through something so trying. I hope you’re feeling okay at the moment and that you continue to feel better each day.
Can I just say how brave you are for writing this? It takes a lot of strength to not only go through this, but to write and share your experience so openly. You are stronger than you know, and I have no doubt that you will get through this. Keep being kick ass…because you really, truly are. I hope you know that!
Isn’t That Charming.
Ugh, you poor thing! I know you didn’t post this for sympathy, but I am so glad you shared this with us. I had no idea what you were going thru all that time (and still). I know you’re a strong girl but that sounds like a LOT for even the strong ones to make it through. Thank heavens you have a doting boyfriend band family to help you get back on your feet.
I wish I could give you (gentle) hugs!!
Thanks for being so matter of fact & sharing what couldn’t have been an easy time for you. Real life isn’t all fashion week, gifted truffle pouches, complimentary Old Navy jeans (like SO many of the other “lifestyle” blogs all plugging the same product at the same time….). It’s refreshing to read about genuine experiences, and have a dose of honesty in what can be a fakey, pseudo-glittery world. Keep kickin’ ass!
Geez. I am so sorry to hear about your surgery, but good lord, you are such a trooper! I am very independent too so I couldn’t imagine not being able to even move around on my own. Thank you for sharing this and I know that sometimes it would be great if we had a Fast Forward button for life, but I’m sure in time, you will be as good as new. Thanks so much for sharing your story. xoox