It’s my Party and I ain’t Crying!

My birthday is this week!

I used to hate the thought of a birthday, just basically ignoring the event. It’s just another year, I thought, and I’m probably never going to get the chance to be an old man. So why celebrate?

My attitude changed (somewhat) when my doc told me that my walking had probably added ten years to my life! That’s completely cool. Walking… now there was something I could do without feeling like I had just been hit in the chest with a baseball bat. It can get boring at times (especially when I forget to tape some music or a radio show) but you can do it almost anytime, anywhere. And if I do have my XM Radio ready to go, the walk flies by. The faster the music, the faster your pace, so I’ll tape a station all night long, then listen to it when I walk the next day. That gives me plenty of music, so I can zip by the slow love songs and find something to put some spring in my step. Thankfully good music doesn’t go stale, and day old music is just as fresh as when it was produced.

Another attitude changer was meeting Pam through the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). Pam has Tricuspid Atresia, just like I do, and she’s a year or two older than me! Pam’s defect must be perfectly balanced… she’s in her 40’s and has never had heart surgery! How in the world does that happen?!?!? I swear, if I ever go to Vegas on vacation, I’m taking Pam. That woman is so lucky we’ll bankrupt a casino or two!

My outlook improved even more when I went to the ACHA’s National Convention in Philadelphia this year. There were 300+ people in attendance and 80% or more had a heart defect. (There was also a ACHA sponsored research symposium, so a good number of Cardiologists were there , too.) None of the ACHDer’s I met had a bad attitude. All of us were lively, engaged people enjoying our lives despite whatever rocks had been tossed our way. As the old saying goes, “You play the hand you’re dealt.” Apparently we have some real cardsharks in the ACHA, because they had taken a poor hand and played it into a winner!

You’ve seen the photo of the “Tricuspid Atresia Gang” (it’s below). The thing about it, not every Tricuspid patient is in the photo. I met at least three more after that photo was taken! So there was at least eleven of us at the convention.

For so many years every one of us had heard we were “rare” and “unusual”, and I had never met anyone else with Tricuspid Atresia. I may not be the only one, I thought, but there sure can’t be many. There aren’t – Tricuspid Atresia occurs in 1 out of every 10,000 live births – but there are more of us than we think! And as a group, we seem to be doing pretty good!

So I’m having a birthday, and that’s awesome!

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One Response to “It’s my Party and I ain’t Crying!”

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