Posts Tagged ‘website’

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

November 25, 2008

If you have a blog, you watch your stats page like a hawk. It’s natural to want to get as many “hits” as you can, you like to think that someone is interested in what you have to say. I also check to see where my visitors are coming from, and where they go when they leave Funky Heart. You can’t always tell, but if they head to a link on your page, it’s recorded. It’s good to see that people are visiting your blog friends (Maybe the visitor is not associated with the CHD family and he’s learning about us) or clicking a link in one of your posts. That’s proof that people are interested enough to look at the background material you’re giving them.

My stats page also tracks the search phrases that people used to get here. Example, if someone types “Heart Defect” into Google and then clicks on a link that brings them here, that’s in my list. It gives me an idea of what people are looking for when they drop in. One of the search phrases used yesterday was “Dumb questions people ask chd patients.” Whomever that is, I hope they come back today because *giggle* I’ve heard a few!

I don’t know what it is, but people seem just seem to be wired to ask the wrong question at the wrong time. I’ve done it myself, had the dumb question asked of me, and been nearby when someone else stuck their foot in their mouth. It’s an epidemic, and we’re all sick!

If you have a Heart Defect, the big question when you are young always seems to be “How did your lips get so blue?” Rather than explain Cyanosis to them – and when you are young, you’re not 100% sure yourself – you just give a throwaway answer. People heard all about my love of grape popsicles and grape bubblegum. And honestly, I think it’s a defensive mechanism: when you’re a kid on the playground, “different” isn’t always good. Kids don’t come with a thick skin, it’s got to be built up, and sometimes it’s just easier to avoid the issue.

Important Side Note: Heart Mom, don’t turn into helicopter mom, hovering over your Cardiac Kid 24/7. They have to learn how to deal with adversity, and the first (and harshest) lessons are usually learned when small children interact. Let your Cardiac Kid function in the real world, they’ll develop the social skills needed to deal with life.

As I hit my teen years, I would quite often give the craziest answer that I could think of! If you do it with a straight face and be completely serious, people will almost always believe you. I once told someone that I had a blue tinge to my skin because I had been dumping 30 pounds of Grape Kool-Aid into the school swimming pool as an April Fool’s Day joke when slipped and fell in! The guy who asked attended the same school I did and he knew we didn’t have a pool… but he believed me anyway!

The questions change as you get older. I’ve told someone that I have a Congenital Heart Defect and then have them ask “And how long has that been going on?” Ummm… all of my life?

Someone will see me when I’m changing shirts and they’ll exclaim, “Man, do you know you have a chest full of scars?” Have mercy! Those weren’t there last night!

Or try this one: Me: “I’ve had three operations on my heart.”

Other person: “And you survived?”

Of course, my sarcastic side wanted me to answer “No.” But I’ve learned better. A “dumb question” isn’t dumb, it’s really a sign that the person doesn’t know much about Congenital Heart Defects. So rather than “mouth off”, I’ve learned to do my best to use that “dumb question” as a chance to teach the questioner about living with a bad heart… and how all in all, we’re pretty normal.


October 29, 2008

UPDATE: As of 6:00 PM Eastern, Katie is out of surgery. Click here to go to her blog for more information.

It’s been an interesting day. Even though I’m here in South Carolina, I’ve been following Katie’s surgery, checking her website for updates. Judging from my website stats page, quite a few people are also keeping up with her by clicking through from here to her blog.

The Internet has given a whole new dimension to friendship and concern. In 1967 and 1977, when I was a long way from home having surgery, all my friends and family had no choice but to wait by the phone for updates. In ’67, no one had even thought of a home answering machine, (as far as I know) so you pretty much had to be there or you missed the call. The first time it was just the three of us, but in 1977, my church passed the hat and collected enough money to send my pastor to Alabama to be with us for a few days. He arrived the day before the surgery, stayed for 3 days – they got up enough cash to pay for a hotel room, too – and then he flew home. I didn’t find out until later that someone (and I still don’t know who it was) gave him two rolls of quarters so he could call home with any news. And in those days, you had to find a pay phone. But since hardly anyone had a cell phone (I had never heard of one) there literally WAS one on every corner.

Websites are active 24 hours a day (unless the server goes down, which occasionally happens) and e-mail is almost instantaneous, so we can find out what is going almost as soon as it happens. Sitting in a waiting room waiting on someone to let you know how a surgery is proceeding is a mind numbing kind of loneliness; having friends to share the burden doesn’t seem to make it any easier. When it comes down to it, it’s just you and the clock.

Rodney Dangerfield once said, “I’m having heart surgery; if everything goes right, it will take about four hours. If it goes wrong, it’ll take about thirty minutes.” Rodney was only half joking; you mentally note the time your loved one was taken from you and watch the clock. If you don’t hear anything for a while, you’re relieved: apparently nothing has come up that would alter or cancel the planned procedure. But if they are gone too long (and everyone has a different idea of how long is too long) your worrying again. Something’s up… it’s taking too long. There must be a problem. What’s going on? It’s a natural reaction.

You have family and friends there with you, and those who can’t be there but who call in to check. Hopefully they are doing all that they can do to support you. Your internet friendsĀ  – many of them you have never met – are “standing” with you too. Because “alone we can do so little; but together we can do so much.” (Helen Keller)