Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Oh no you didn’t!

May 25, 2010

We’ve got serious problems, and we need serious people. This is a time for serious people, and your fifteen minutes are up.” – President Andrew Shepard (Michael Douglas)  The American President (1995)

Some people just make my brain hurt.

Katherine Heigl, star of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, recently adopted a daughter born in Korea. At first the child was described as a “Special Needs” child but it was later revealed that the baby had a Congenital Heart Defect. Little Naleigh had heart surgery in her homeland before coming to the United States.

Then – during an interview for Harper’s Bazaar – Miss Heigl made not one, but two ill-considered statements about heart defects:

“Her heart is 100 percent fine now. She has a scar, so she won’t be wearing bikinis, which is fine by us.”

Oh my word, where do I start? Obviously Miss Heigl is not a Funky Heart! reader, (Shame on her!) because if she was, she would know that no one with a CHD is “fine” after surgery. A person living with a Congenital Heart Defect has issues that surgery can not correct – even though their heart functions well enough to sustain life, there are still underlying structural defects in the heart itself. These need to be monitored throughout your lifetime.

Her second comment can be interpreted in two different ways. I can find no reason why an 18 month old girl needs to be wearing a bikini, so if that is what she meant, I agree. But Miss Heigl strikes me as someone to who appearance means a lot. She is in a business that places a great value on physical beauty, after all. (“I try, but I’m not nailing the baby fashion. It’s intimidating,” she said later in the interview) I am afraid that Naleigh is going to grow up thinking her heart surgery scar is a mark of shame.

And that is not true. Scars are a mark of battles fought – and won. I have stripped my sleeve and shown you my scars right here on this blog. A woman won’t just show the world her scars, but she sees them in a mirror. And if she is fortunate one day that special someone will ask her why she has a scar. Hopefully at that moment she won’t hold her head in shame, but rather talk about how she won the battle and tamed a monster.

Trust, but Verify

November 12, 2009

Here’s a .pdf formatted article about how to read health news. A lot of information is out there; much more than when my parents were trying to learn all they could about their child’s defective heart. But with all this information, you also have to understand how the news media works: They’re like your easily panicked neighbor, the one who runs up to the fence and screams that the world is ending because he saw a mouse in the kitchen.

I had recently returned from Atlanta; but this wasn’t the “usual” trip to Atlanta to visit my Cardiologist. Two years earlier I had jokingly told a friend “If Atlanta gets to host the Olympic Games, I’m going!” They won the rights, and I started seriously thinking about what I had said. My friend and I sat down, made a plan, decided to split the cost and go.

We had been unable to book a hotel room, so we condensed everything into a one day trip. It was a whirlwind – our schedule was timed almost down to the minute – but we did it! We saw five different events, did some pin trading, and had a great time. That was Monday, July 22, 1996. Early in the morning of July 27 a bomb exploded in Centennial Park.

Someone called my grandmother.“They just blew up Atlanta! Everyone’s dead!” that person shouted, and hung up. Events would prove that “they” was one person (and no, it was not the security guard!) and “everyone” was a total of two people.

Two minutes later the phone was ringing at my house. “Your grandma is on the phone,” dad said, waking me from a deep sleep. “Get up and go talk to her, she thinks you’re in some kind of trouble.”

The news media is like that neighbor who called grandma, breathlessly spreading information that may or may not be true. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.” Read the story closely to see what’s being reported – or what is missing. The .pdf link above give you a good list of what to look for. Gary Schwitzer of the University of Minnesota runs Health News Review, a website that grades medical news on the accuracy of the reporting. It’s very informative – like a good police officer, he only trusts the evidence.

Remember, the phrase is “Take care of yourself.” You are your own best advocate, no matter if you have a heart defect or an ingrown toenail.