There seems to be a lot of “Congenital Heart Defect Drama” playing out lately, usually in the form of accusations and insinuations against one segment of the CHD Community or the other. “I am a business man, Mr. Garrison,” Clay Shaw says in the movie JFK. “I am accused of everything.” It certainly seems like there are more than a few accusations going around.
Why? There seems to be a common misconception that having a child with a heart problem will give his or her parents the personality of a saint. That does not happen. What happens is those parents are placed in a pressure cooker – with a roaring fire burning under the pot and the pressure valve closed. Most likely, there’s going to be an explosion.
The stress and strain of caring for a Heart Kid can be overwhelming, even if everything goes “right”. It is not normal for your child to be operated on; most people don’t spend time in the hell that is a surgical waiting room. In the past the fear and the anger were often hidden from view; hospitals know to get parents into a private area before any news is given out, especially if it is bad news. But with the internet and modern communications, there may literally be “a cast of thousands” looking over the parents’ shoulders.
So what should you do if you become entangled in CHD Drama? The simplest solution is “Give it a rest.” DON’T fire back… you may be making a bad situation worse, or causing an innocent misunderstanding to escalate. Wait 24 (or 48) hours before you even answer. And if the charge is just too outlandish and seems out of character, just ignore it. Someone’s having a very bad day.
Unfortunately, we can’t all just get along… there are people who seem to want to provoke conflict. They already have an aggressive personality, being a Heart Parent just enhances it. Don’t take the bait, you are giving them exactly what they want. The 24 hour/48 hour rule works very well here, since most of them seem to want the gratification of an instant response. Ignore them, they will tire of the game and move on.
At the same time, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. You are going to defend yourself when necessary, or you might send the signal “I’m weak.” That’s not what you want to do. So defend yourself – calmly, and leave the personal attacks out of your defense. Remember, when you get into the mud to wrestle the pig, you get dirty… and the pig enjoys it!
And if worse comes to worst… if someone is hitting you with an unrelenting, unprovable, personal attack… just remember: your antagonist is most likely just words on a screen. That’s all. Turn off the computer and have fun with your own Heart Kid.