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A special anniversary

December 7, 2013
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

"I can't believe you don't take any medications," my mother said to me this past weekend as I paid a visit to my folks. Not even an aspirin, she added. She's referring to an event that happened to me 10 years ago this coming Monday - open heart surgery to correct a congenital heart defect. Something I lived with for more than 30 years before anything was discovered.

On Facebook, I'm a member of a group called "Zipper Sisters: Women With CHD." It's basically a group where women who are dealing with a congenital heart defect post about various things - from challenges they're facing to asking advice of others. Last week, one of the members had posted that it had been a year since her OHS, and when she told her mother, the mother's response was "is this something we're celebrating?" It made me think back to the first year after my open heart surgery. I thought about a way I wanted to "celebrate." My first thought was food; a treatzza pizza from Dairy Queen in fact. I brought in the rich, glorious dessert to share with co-workers. And that's pretty much all the celebrating I did.

But I haven't done anything special since then. Sure I may acknowledge that hey, it's Dec. 9, a date that changed my life in a way. It also happens to be my "half" birthday. So maybe that's cause to celebrate, maybe not.

On the "Zipper Sisters" Facebook page, others told the woman who posted about her one-year anniversary to celebrate anyway, do it up. And that's what she did. She actually met up with a fellow "Zipper Sister," and the two of them had a good time.

It's been an interesting journey since my open-heart surgery. These 10 years have flown by. I'm still recalling the late nights of staying up and scanning the Internet for any information about my condition, what to expect from surgery and basically freaking myself out. The two months between diagnosis and the surgery itself was tough. I was constantly thinking about the "what ifs." I turned to aromatherapy to relax. I attended a Loverboy concert in Marshall (yes, the band did come here) to get my mind off of things.

Then the big day came. I was barely awake since I didn't really sleep the night before, and I had to check in at 5:30 a.m. I was dressed comfortably in sweats - some time later I'm basically down to a hospital gown and those socks you're given so you don't fall. And I made up for the sleep I lost while my heart was being repaired.

I have to say my first time in a hospital wasn't terribly bad. I had my own room. I didn't have to go to work. I could laze the day away with the exception of trotting around the hospital floor to prevent further issues. I wasn't too crazy about having broth for meals, but it was otherwise OK.

My incision scar may still get sore or itch, depending on the weather. I may get a little winded when I'm hiking up an incline. But I'm grateful that I'm alive.



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