A Birthday in Retrospect

I turned 31 on Friday. To most 30 years old would be the time to celebrate, and believe me last year I celebrated. But this year was especially cause for celebration. I didn’t think I was going to make it to this birthday. Although, I looked fine, I wasn’t. Due to my Pulmonary Artery Band being too tight (less than 1/2 a millimeter when it needed to be open two millimeters or more) my heart was struggling to pump. If it continued to go without being taken care of or unnoticed I could’ve had valve problems or possibly heart failure. My fatigue was a warning sign that had shown up years ago but kept on getting progressively worse.

I remember about two years ago crying in the car with my mum. We had finally got to see my cardiologist at the time after almost two years of not seeing him. I remember complaining so much of being fatigued and feeling terrible. They decided to do more tests. This was always the answer do more tests but it always seemed like they would come back with everything looked fine. But I didn’t feel fine and I knew I wasn’t okay. I was running on empty and no one could see it. They saw someone who looked good because I never felt like they really considered or gave a second look. I’m no longer with that doctor or insurance. If I was, I don’t think I would be here today.

Last year on my 30th birthday we celebrated with a huge party. During this time we had switched insurances and like usual it was a fight to get the care I needed. They were refusing to send me to a cardiac specialist. A couple of weeks after my birthday I ended up in the hospital with chest pains and extreme fatigue.

After many months of fighting with insurances I finally got the care I needed and ended up at UCSD with an amazing Cardiac team. With many tests they realized that it was my band and it was causing significant blockage and complications. The PA band was too tight and due to calcification it was causing the opening to be less then a half a millimeter of opening to let blood through. Which kind of looked like a hose on high velocity on MRI’s when shown. On August 29th I had my third open heart surgery. They removed my PA band and had to have a part of the area where my band was patched due to the severe calcification.

Taken right after I was taken off the breathing tube

I made it to 31 this year because of a team of wonderful doctors. I’m able to heal and continue my story.

31 Here I come!

Published by Amelia Blackwater

I am feminist writer and poet trying to raise awareness on topics such as mental health and physical disabilities. I often write about things such as invisible illnesses and mental health/illness related topics.

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