We are all born with one; some regal, some accomplished, and some put the fun in dysfunctional. Love them or hate them whether you're near or far. We all are born with a family, not of our choosing, and whether we love them or despise them, we've got them.
The beauty of maturing
The beauty of maturing is that with age we get to grow with or without those we were born attached to. As we become adults we start to make our own family by way of marriages, friends, coworkers or when you’re dealing with a condition such as congestive heart failure. Your team of doctors and nurses often become your immediate family.
It was early on in my diagnosis when I met the doctor who I would endearingly call “blue eyes” - my absolute favorite cardiologist, and I’ve known a few since my diagnosis! There was even a time when he came to visit me at the hospital when an older lady told me that “he belonged to her”; but I knew the minute I met him that he was special! He would be the doctor that took the time to listen to me and my family about our fears and also answered our questions truthfully.
He listened to me
He was my first cardiologist - the doctor that would build a team and fight for my life alongside myself and my family. My cardiologist “got me” he understood and most importantly he listened to me. Throughout my journey, I learned to be a vocal advocate for myself, very often being dismissed in the past as if I didn’t know my own body. Ultimately I didn’t, it would take many moons to come to know what I now know about myself and my body. There were times I’ve been dismissed as if what I was describing regarding how my body was reacting to medications was not important because they were the professionals and I was only the patient.
Blue eyes always took the time to take inventory of what I was feeling, So he built the first team he and I stayed in the hospital for two months trying to get on the transplant list. Unfortunately, the first team did not quite get the severity of my rapidly deteriorating heart. Unsatisfied with that, old blue eyes built another team, the team that eventually became my winning team. I began to build relationships with my doctors, fellows, and nurses.
My dream team
For the next four years, they became my dream team, saving me time and time again. I’ve been hospitalized so much that it's a running joke that I needed to have my own wing on the hospital floor. Heck, I don’t think there is one room that I haven’t stayed in! I always feel like a celebrity coming and going, doctors and nurses greeting me as I'm wheeled down the hospital; I’m quite popular (though I wish it was for a better reason).
I want to acknowledge that the nurses are the backbone of the doctors. Their dedication and understanding of my needs are what helped me get through some of the most difficult times. My nurses along with my family have witnessed my victories from being in ICU for three months connected to a balloon pump due to my heart not being strong enough to pump on its own, functioning at 3%, with 3 days to live and too weak to survive the surgery. My entire team from cardiologist, nurses, and fellows down to the PCAs have been instrumental in this process and why I am still here to tell my story.
The family you have built
I say all of this to say, that when you become gravely ill and suffer from an illness or disease, and have multiple hospital stays, the doctors and nurses become your immediate family; the family you have built. Doctors and nurses that would come to care for you become your greatest support, your biggest fans, and most of all, they become individuals that put you back together to be the best, healthiest version of yourself.
Have you shared YOUR heart failure story with us yet?