Everett, born 1933Yes, it is possible. I am living proof. I'm sure there are many of us who share my good fortune. I wish we who do could make and publish a group photo to lend encouragement to you new parents of children affected by a congenital heart defect.
When I was born in 1933 little was known about CHD other than that our family physician detected a “heart murmur”. I was medicated for years with digitalis and my mom's prayers and crossed fingers for my survival. I thank God that I was one of seven siblings or I might have been overly protected by my family's concern for my survival. I remember at about age 7 a gift football was quietly taken away from me and replaced with a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquism doll so that my activities would be low stress. Later, at about age 12, another physician predicted to my parents that I could live to about age 20 at best. I'm sure he meant well but he just didn't know any better in those early years.
Now, let's fast forward to 1976. A job change took me from the East Coast to San Francisco . At my annual physical those first two years my cardiologist talked about having surgery to repair both atrial and ventricular septal defects. In the third year of exams he told me in person that it was time to have the surgery. When he followed that up with a letter confirming his recommendation I know that he truly meant what he had recommended. I listened and acted. In June of 1976 I entered Stanford University Hospital . The next day my surgeon, Wally Buck, MD and his support team did their professional magic. After the surgery I learned from Dr Buck that he closed one atrial septal opening by suture. He also closed two ventricular septal defects, a small one by suture and a larger one with a synthetic patch material. I truly was the beneficiary of medical magic at that early time in complex cardiac surgery. I've been ever grateful.
Fast forward again to 2004. It's interesting that I still recall that Charlie McCarthy doll and all that it symbolized to me in my young life. I turned age 70 last July. My health and energy are fine. My (younger) wife and I get to the gym several times each week. I am enjoying a healthy and happy life. The only connection in meds with my early years is that, following a bout of heart palpitations a few years ago, I regularly take a minimal dose of digitex to help regulate my heart rhythm. Hey – I'm still a work in progress.
Try to remain positive as you work through your family with CHD.
Story by Everett - New Hampshire
Giuliana, born 2000
Erin, born 1993