The Advocate: Kim, Heart Mom, Writer of The CHD Blog

A little more than a week ago I volunteered for The Blogger Interview, an exercise intended to help bloggers learn more about our fellow writers and perhaps introduce our readers to other blogs that they may find interesting. One of the rules of The Blogger Interview is that you offer others a chance to participate, and Kim from The CHD Blog has risen to the occasion. So below, you’ll have the opportunity to meet her. Kim is a Heart Mom; her daughter was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries with an associated Atrial Septal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect.

The Challenge is STILL open… we’d love to hear from any Survivors or Heart Parents (or Medical staff!) who would be willing to take the challenge!

And now, Kim. My questions are in bold, and her answers are in plain text:

Were you a blogger before you created the CHD Blog?

Yes, I have a personal blog, Herding Cats, that I created immediately after my daughter was diagnosed with a CHD. The hospital I was at didn’t tell me about Caring Bridge or CarePages, so I winged it – I created a blog to keep family and friends informed. It was a great way to vent, to organize my thoughts and to share news without having to repeat myself. Since then, it’s grown into a sounding board and a way to stay in touch with friends and family outside my immediate area. I started and just can’t stop! (Kim doesn’t mind if you stop by, but she reminds us that it is her personal blog, so not everything is CHD related. There are “lots of brain droppings there!”). It’s the cheapest form of therapy I’ve found to date.

The CHD Blog was born last year on a whim. I realized only a couple of weeks before February that there was a CHD awareness week. I wanted to do something. When my daughter was diagnosed, I felt alone in a vast sea… even the Internet couldn’t provide the answers I craved. The connections I wanted. Or a quick resource to get the information I needed. I thought that perhaps a portal could be created that was not affiliated with any organization, completely (or mostly) unbiased and for the general public’s consumption. That’s why the CHD Blog was born.

What have you learned from other Heart Moms and Dads?

I’ve learned how to advocate for my child. Coming into the world of acute care for the first time, I still held the ancient belief that the medical community knew much more than I did. While they do know more about specific diseases, organs, etc., they do not know my child. Only I can truly advocate for her needs.
I’ve also gained a support network I never knew I needed. I’m not much one for “support groups.” I don’t like group activities per se. Yet I have met incredible men and women both virtually and in person that have walked down similar paths. It’s hard to relate all of your feelings about “that” road we parents (or you patients) have been down. I didn’t even realize many of the emotions I harbored. Having friends that have walked similar paths in life really does make a difference.
What’s a routine day around your house like?
Honestly? Loosely organized chaos. I own a Montessori preschool, as well as an association management firm. I manage two full time clients (their accounting, marketing, public relations, event planning, administration, etc., etc.). I am married, have two daughters (six and two), two dogs, two guinea pigs and somewhere around 30 fish to care for. My day starts somewhere around 5:30 and ends somewhere around 1:30-2. I spend some time in the preschool, a lot of time behind the computer or phone working with scientists and business professionals around the world, try to make sure to have some one-on-one time with my girls, and try to cram some volunteer work (usually CHD related) into the few remaining hours of my day.
Describe the moment that your doctor told you that your daughter had a heart defect?
It was a moment of pure, unadulterated shock. We knew something was wrong, but had thought it was minor at best. As the doctor drew a crude drawing of a heart on a napkin, his hand was shaking. He would not look me in the eye as he discussed her emergency intubation, that she needed to be medivaced out immediately, that surgery was her only option, and it was dire that intervention happened immediately. Until that moment, I had never even fathomed the possibility of a heart defect. I didn’t even know what CHD was.
In that moment, I asked stupid questions. One of the first, which I still cringe at, was if she would have open heart surgery, and if there would be a scar. Well, yes, dummy. What a stupidly naive question, so irrelevant to the life and death situation we were in. But I couldn’t connect the dots. I’d just had my daughter a few hours before, only 7 minutes after flying through the ER doors. And now they were telling me she was struggling for her life. I hadn’t had time to hold her. I hadn’t even really seen her. It was all just too much to take in.

After a long night of trying to wrap my mind around the situation and my reaction, I decided to change immediately how I was dealing with the trauma. I refused to let myself go down that “shocked” road again. My mode de operand since has been to push all emotions aside and to get analytical and realistic when faced with life-death situations. Of course, there are a lot of drawbacks to ignoring emotions and refusing to allow shock to take over – it only gives them opportunity to fester and grow, and it’s often ugly to deal with their neglected mutations after the emergency has passed. But it has helped me to become a better advocate in traumatic situations. Some people comment on this being a strength, but in fact it is not. It’s a total weakness – I admire other parents and patients that can cope with the emotional aspects of medical trauma while it is in progress.

What is your wish for your daughter?

That technology is always ahead of her in terms of treatment and her medical needs. That she lives a full and happy life. And that she never doubts for a second how much I love her.

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2 Responses to “The Advocate: Kim, Heart Mom, Writer of The CHD Blog”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Great interview and comforting to know as a heart momma I’m not alone in the vast sea of feelings. Kim has such a busy schedule…I am inspired to get busier! Can’t wait to meet both of you in Washington. Keep the pacemaker at full blast!

  2. Crystal @ Noah's Adventure Says:

    What a GREAT interview. This was the first time I have heard anyone else describe their coping mechanism the same way I do. It was VERY therapeutic for me to know I wasn’t alone in dealing with ugly neglected mutations.

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