This week was one of those in which I have to snap back into the reality that I am a heart patient, and I have specific responsibilities that I have to keep up with when it comes to my medical records and health. My days usually consist of work or school, hanging out with friends, watching TV with my mom, and sleeping in my bed where I tumble and turn all night (in a good way). Not to mention the nights I end up partying and getting home exceptionally late. But this week was different.
Thursday, July 19th. Day 1.
Usually, this time of year, I get my yearly check-up done, and I’m probably the calmest and most relaxed person there is. My parents are 10 times more anxious, and I’m the one telling them that everything is going to be perfectly fine. Not this year though. As my mom started to share with me all her anxieties surrounding these appointments, I stepped out of my teenage brain and began to look at things from a different perspective. I became acutely aware of the stressors that were involved in these types of check-ups, and I started to grow anxious myself. I’ve been known to bottle those things up, because I’m so used to being the strong one, and the one who has to keep everyone upbeat in these times. But my bottling up didn’t hold up any longer. As soon as I got to my appointment, I started gushing with tears to the point where I even allowed the nurse to take a swipe at my face with a tissue (without even caring about the makeup she was taking off). I know that there isn’t a feeling worse than the one you feel at the pit of your throat when you’re holding in a good cry. I stepped out of the office and into the elevator, and my small cry moment turned into a marathon. I had NEVER felt like this about anything heart related; I felt ridiculous! I walked around with my holter for the rest of the day feeling like a freak show (for those of you who don’t know, a holter is a 24hr. heart monitor with lots of cables and uncomfortable sticky things.) I don’t know why I felt so ashamed of wearing something I had worn once a year, every year, for about a decade.
After spending the day with a close friend, who made me feel like I wasn’t even wearing it at all, I came back home with a different attitude and a mindset to change the world and how they look at my cables. After taking an empowering picture to prove to everyone that heart conditions can be beautiful, if you know me by now, you know I posted it, and the results were ravishing. And although it might not have changed anyone’s mind, it lay the groundwork for the culmination of checkup week.
Tuesday, July 24th. Last day of checkups.
After a morning of bloodwork and peeing in a cup, I went to the place where dreams are made of, a Marshalls near my house. Amidst a sea of steals and deals, I thought my day couldn’t get any better. A former teacher came up to me to say hello. I hadn’t entirely lost contact as she had been following my story and my heart journey. But something caught my eye. The woman beside her carried a band-aid on her forearm just as I did. She told me that she had just gotten heart surgery recently and was doing her check-ups, and she had been following me as well. I grew so happy, but the best was yet to come. She told me that she knew I was getting my checkups done, (because I had posted about it) and knew that if I could do it, she could do it too. Aaah! I mean, what an honor. What a privilege to be a source of emotional wealth and security for those going through the same as you.
I get a lot of judgment about my over-sharing and about how annoying it is that I post everything I do and how I inform the world about everything I’m up to. But what a fantastic reward it is to be told that all you do is paying off? You never know who you might impact with your story. Please don’t be afraid to share it. It’s all part of a process.