The Pity Party has been cancelled!

I have a severe heart defect. I survived my first heart operation at the age of five months, taken to surgery after my Cardiologist said that my life expectancy was “down to hours.”

After I managed to fight through that, the doctors told my parents that the operation was not a cure, but it could buy some time. Barring any unforeseen failure, I would probably outgrow the operation in ten to twelve years. They hit the date almost on the nose. Just a few weeks short of the tenth anniversary of my heart operation, I felt sick to my stomach, leaned over, and threw up bright red blood.

My second operation went well and I was stable. When I was 21, my Cardiologist suggested that I think about having one more operation. I’d never be heart healthy, but this operation would get me as close to it as I would ever be. I decided to have the operation, and everything went wrong from the start.

When they opened my chest cavity, scar tissue that had sealed itself to the underside of my ribcage tore, and blood went everywhere. My surgeon was one of the most experienced in the world, and he needed every bit of that skill to save my life. By the time he finished putting me back together, they had given me more than 20 units of whole blood.

I have a pacemaker, fought Endocarditis, had a small stroke (and recovered), constantly battle Congestive Heart Failure, and seem to catch every cough and cold that goes around every winter. I’m 41, with a battle scarred heart that continues beating despite everything… but just might stop in the next few minutes.

But don’t you dare tell me that you feel sorry for me.

I’ve graduated college and I’ve been to the Olympics. I’ve fallen for Miss Wrong while looking for Miss Right. I’ve seen Manny Ramirez hit a baseball so hard, I’m not sure if it eventually fell to earth or just exploded. I’m a member of a national organization that stands up for Adults with heart defects; they like and respect me, and I love them. I’ve traveled to Washington to stand with them, and I’m going to Boulder Colorado to help raise money for them.

So don’t call me helpless, because I’m not. Would you say that she is limited? How about him? And it probably would be dangerous to insult this man by saying his life is less than it could be.

So you can save your labels. I’m Steve.


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