Monday, July 16, 2007

74 Year Old Congenital Heart Defect Survivor

Two blogs in one day! This felt important to me. My grandmother was born with a Congenital Heart Defect. Atrial Septal Defect. A hole in her heart. It was bad enough to warrant surgery when she was a young mother. My mother, her daughter, told me growing up that my grandmother distanced herself emotionally from my mom because back then, when you had heart surgery, well, sometimes you didn't get to come home. But she did. I had seen her scar in the summer many times when she wore tank tops. It was just "mamaw", I never questioned why she had surgery.

In my mind, grown ups have heart surgery all the time. Like my papaw had bypass...that sort of thing. I only found out a month ago that she had been born with a heart defect. It hit me right in the gut. I have heard chatter that heart defects can be genetically linked. I don't know if that is our family's case. What I DO wish is that there was enough awareness out there to have warned me it was a possibility! There are posters in the OB's office for Spina Bifida, and Down's Syndrome. Both of which are very real diseases, but Heart Defects? Sorry, I must have missed that poster, because the very first time I ever heard of Congenital Heart Defects was the second the ultrasound found Tommy's. Sure, I had heard of "baby born with hole in heart" stories, and "heart murmurs". I was always told that the holes close up, the murmurs go away...Nobody ever mentioned babies DIE!

So here is a HUGE, HUGE accomplishment in the world of Congenital Heart Defects. A 74 year old survivor. Not only of the defect itself, but surgery at a time when it was so unsuccessful that my grandmother chose to keep herself at a distance from her children out of the fear they may not have a mommy once she got on that table. She is a very tough lady. I get a lot of my strength from her example. She is a strong woman. A survivor of things at one time unsurvivable. My Mamaw Winnie.

1 comment:

Awesome Mom said...

You are soo right! I was much more aware of less likely birth defects than I was about the most common heart defects. Oh and no I had no idea that you were LDS too.

Diagram of Tommy's Heart Defects

Diagram of Tommy's Heart Defects
Double Inlet Left Ventricle with Transpostion of the Great Arteries