EKG, MRI, Stress Test… These are words that seem so foreign to some, yet so familiar to others. For me, they are part of my world every year and I am used to them… for others they seem like a lifetime away. As I trudge my way up to building C of Cincinnati Children’s, the faces I see are usually a mixture of stress, fear, and confusion. I feel none of those things; I am familiar with everything from the tiles on the floor to the music in the elevator as I ascend to the Cardiology floor. This week in class when we talked about normalcy, I am reminded of these times when I feel very at home in one area where others don’t know which way to go. I have Transposition of the Great Vessel…pretty much, my heart works backward (at least that is how they forced it to work when I had surgery). To put it as simply as possible, the part of your heart that pumps to the body pumps to my lungs, and the part that usually pumps to your lungs pumps to my body. My heart also lacks the normal built in pacemaker so the beats are not very structured. I had a non-serious episode once that still required me to see my family doctor rather than my normal cardiology doctor… the normalcy for my cardiologist and my normal doctor was very different indeed. Imagine seeing a backwards heart for the first time and you would be confused too. (Following Video is *Graphic* for those with a weak stomach)
What always seems to strike me when we talk about “Normalcy” is how some people are so afraid of something that is not normal. One the one hand, it could be the natural fear that we have of the unknown. I hear people constantly talk about the fear of the dark or perhaps is it really of fear of what could be hiding in it. The same is true for health. When I walk into my cardiology department, I get my EKG, get my MRI, take my Stress Test then get two thumbs up and go about my way to pick up some food. I took a girl I was seeing once, because she was intrigued in what the medical side of my life look like. As she looked on as I took my standard tests, her face looked as though I was about to be given news that I was dying of terminal cancer. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit.
The feeling of normalcy I have with my own condition is one that stretches not only to me, but to almost anyone with an everyday health issue. My heart is normal to me; my friend in high schools blindness was normal to her. It all is a matter of how we get used to it and don’t let it define us, but let it just be another appendage to our life story. Now think hard about what is normal to you and how you can extend the fingers of what normal is in your life.