My heart is like my toddler.

Exhibit A: Stubborn. I have cardiac rehab three days a week. My brain and body are set to go! I feel like I could run for days. Then I step on the treadmill and start walking 2.5mph. I get short of breath, my chest starts to ache. It’s like my heart is throwing itself on the floor screaming, just like my toddler.

Exhibit B: Sleep deprivation. With my PICC line (IV into my upper right arm) I’m attached to IV tubing, which is attached to a pump, which is attached to the wall. The amount of times I get tangled in the night and pull the pump off the night stand is ridiculous. Did I make a mistake and eat something too salty? Well then, my lungs are bound to fill with fluid. Then I can’t sleep flat and I’m away for three hours in the middle of the night waiting for my lasix to kick in. I’m one of those moms that everyone hates because my kids sleep well. Payback has come in full force as my heart disrupts my sleep, just like a toddler.

Exhibit C: Quiet is dangerous. Moms and dads know when the toddler quiet they should immediately be suspicious.  Same goes with my heart. Right about the time I get my life under control the other shoe drops! Lots of wine tastings on the calendar?  Business good? Oh, you want to go to DC to rally for NIH funding? My heart has a different plan! How about a three day hospitalization and PICC line instead?! Quiet is suspicious, just like a toddler.

Exhibit D: Meals are scary. For me eating is scary.  I have to look at the sodium of everything I put in my mouth. I can rattle of stats of sodium like a sports announcer. Yoplait light 80mg, Pacific Organic chicken stock 70mg/cup, Kind bar 25mg – it’s ridiculous. On top of having fear of making sure I eat the right thing, I have two children under 4. Meal time at my house just plain sucks. I only cook one meal as my mother did for us. My kids generally eat whatever I serve but every now and then we have a core meltdown at the dinner table ending in tears. Every now and then, even when I’ve counted every mg of sodium that has entered my body, my lungs still fill with fluid and I feel like having a core meltdown of my own, just like my toddler.

My new heart is like a new car!

Exhibit A: Show it off! You bet when I get my new heart I’m going to show it off! When I get a new car I make up excuses to drive it. I love being in it and the new car smell.  I love showing it off to friends. It just makes you feel happy. There is a good possibility I will get a picture of my new heart before the surgeon “installs” it. I can’t wait to show everyone my new heart while reminding them of the sacrifice made to make organ donation possible. I’ll be proud of my new heart and show it off, just like a new car.

Exhibit B: Keep it clean! My new heart will be a gift from a donor whose life ended and allowed mine to continue. I will respect their gift by keeping it clean. Diet is an important part of my life now and will remain so forever. I will keep my new heart clean, just like a  new car.

Exhibit C: Push the limits! I’m sure I’ll have to start slow getting back into exercise. Back to cardiac rehab post surgery is inevitable. Eventually, I want to see what my new heart can do! Will I be able to run with my husband? Take my kids hiking? Go on family bike rides? I want to take my heart back to a personal trainer just to ‘see what she can do’. I want to see what my new heart can do, just like a new car.

Through my journey there are annoyances that come from being in heart failure however; there are many people in worse situations than mine. I try to be appreciative of what I have and remain hopeful for the future. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep this toddler happy until I get my new car.

Courage, dear heart. ~C.S. Lewis

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