A “Normal” Heart

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.

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5 thoughts on “A “Normal” Heart

  1. I sort of agree with you. Even though something not normal happens to you and other’s won’t consider normal, it becomes normal to you. You learn how to cope and maybe even forget about it sometimes until someone brings it up. Normalcy is in everyone’s personal definition. I agree that you should never let it get in the way, accept it and move on. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m glad you feel normal, no one can take that away from you.

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  2. This was a very powerful blog; I absolutely loved it. I completely agree with the statement about your heart condition being normal to you and blindness normal to your friend. I feel as if the word normal is to be described and defined within each individual. I definitely agree that normalcy to you should be all that matters. You may be “abnormal” medically speaking, but to yourself, you’re completely fine. That is what matters. I loved your story.

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  3. I like how you showed how normal has many different definitions for different people. I agree that if you are comfortable with your condition then you shouldn’t feel any different from anyone else . Plus in your situation if you and your family understand what your normal means to you then it will be easier for you to know when something isn’t right.

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  4. What an incredible story! I agree that normalcy is extremely subjective. People look for what is normal, because most are afraid to be different. I even notice it in myself that I search for what others view as normal, and compare those normalcies to my own self. Even sometimes attempting to change what my normal is to be more like what others think is normal. Your post is a great example of how normal should be viewed, and used. Thanks!

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