Woman with long flowing hair crouched alone inside of a big heart

Heart Disease and Family

I found out I had heart disease at the age of 12 years old. It changed everything for me quickly. The greatest battle for me was being 1 of 7 children and feeling alone. No one really understood what I was dealing with. There would be times where I was mentally battling because they just did not get it.

From normal to nothing

I went from playing with everyone to not being able to do anything at all. I could not do what normal kids could do. There was no riding bikes, jump roping, running, playing, just enjoying a kid’s normal activities. My siblings never dealt with anyone that close with sickness so to understand me was completely out of the norm.

Overwhelming

There would be times where I would feel so tired and weak and they expected me to be full of energy. Sometimes it was overwhelming to deal with because I needed someone to understand me. I was around 6 siblings that had no idea of my physical and mental struggle.

Understanding

Even now that I am 30 it is the same thing. So, for over 15 years I have dealt with this issue. I can tell them things and sometimes I get sympathy but it's more of an understanding I need regarding why I do the things I do and how it is affecting me.

Feeling like a failure

Having heart disease has had its challenging when it comes to family. I would have to sit on the side of every event we had if it had anything to do with me exerting myself. I can remember one of them saying 'Kim, just try!' and inside I would get frustrated because I want to do more than try, I wanted to do it and I just knew I couldn’t. It made me feel like a failure or a left-behind a lot of times.

Carrying guilt

I carried a lot of guilt when I had a doctor visit because all my siblings that were still living under my mom's roof had to miss school to come along, and there were a lot of visits. We lived an hour from the hospital and by the time I would finish at the doctor, they would be home alone, and they were not old enough yet. That guilt weighed heavy on me my whole childhood.

Teamwork makes the dream work

When I was up in age, I talked to my siblings about it and they did not hold it against me which was what I needed to hear to release that guilt. Sometimes our families carry our disease just like we do. While we want their understanding, we too have to understand that it's a part they carry. It might not be the same feeling but it is a feeling - something that I have learned after years of battling heart disease.

I only know my side of wanting to be understood and they only know their side of dealing with a close family member overcoming it. I heard a saying that says teamwork makes the dream work and working together on this journey is key. Although full understanding may not be there, family support is extremely important, and that's what we have to hold on to.

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