It turns out that I’m one in seventy Canadians who was born with a congenital heart defect—any sort of abnormality with the heart that is present at birth. The thing about CHDers like me, is that their defects either repair themselves through growth or medicine, or are repaired surgically soon after birth, so many of us are actually free of our CHD before we’re old enough to even know about it. However, some CHDers don’t learn of their defect until later in life . . . or don’t even know they have one.
This week, February 7-14 (right up until Valentine’s Day!] is Congential Heart Defects Awareness Week, so I thought I’d wrote some about what CHDs mean to me.
I didn’t know about my CHD [which is very common among premies—I was born 10 weeks premature] until last year—but because most CHDs are repaired early on, I’m still considered a CHDer, as a couple friends who I’ve met with CHDs have told me.
When I was born I had what the medical-types call a patent ductus arteriosus—the blood vessel between my aorta and pulmonary artery called the ductus arteriosus [which is important for fetuses since they don’t have to breathe, but not a good thing for infants/children/adults at all], so the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood got all mixed up which is, you know, bad. But it fixed itself and now my heart is okay except I have an apparently innocent murmur.
The thing is, while we all know things like asthma and diabetes and cystic fibrosis exist, I had never even HEARD of CHDs until I made friends who had them . . . and found out I had one. This week, I’d like to challenge you to ask at least one person if they’ve heard of congenital heart defects, and if they haven’t spread the heart love and tell them about CHD Awareness Week!