When I was born, I was a little girl. All pink and beautiful and healthy or so it seemed. My parents were over joyed and after spending a couple days in the hospital I was able to go home.

I seemed like every other little kid, like my brothers had been as babies except one thing, as time went on I got sick very easily. At four months of age my mom took me to see my pediatrician for what she believed to be ear infections, as I was crying and running a fever. My pediatrician wasn’t working that day though so we ended up seeing another doctor at his office who was actually moonlighting at there while he was a fellow in training to be a pediatric cardiac surgeon.

When we saw him, he confirmed that I had bilateral ear infections, but he was also concerned about my heart. I was very tachycardiac that day. He ordered an EKG to check on my heart and although it was normal he told us he wanted us to come back three days later to get it rechecked. So my mom brought me back and my pediatrician told my mom that my ears were getting better.

My mom then asked about my heart and he realized that I was still very, very tachycardic. So he got another EKG and a chest X-ray. This showed that I was in congestive heart failure. I was close to death. The following week I went to a pediatric cardiologist and was diagnosed with a hole in the wall of the upper chambers of my heart called an Atrial Septal Defect.

The cardiologist told my parents that I had what is called a Congenital Heart defect, and that they are the most common birth defect in the world. He said they occur in every 1:100 births. The cardiologist wanted to treat my defect by keeping me on medication and seeing if it would close on its own. The doctors and my parents watched me closely and at six months it was apparent this would not happen as I was still in heart failure. So I had Open Heart Surgery at six months of age. The hole in my heart was fixed and I became an entirely new kid. I didn’t get sick as easily, I had more energy and was more happy.

The hole in my heart was fixed at six months still has some long lasting effects. Growing up and to this day I have less energy than most people. I also have tachycardia due to some damage to one of the structures in my heart that controls the rhythm during my open heart. My blood pressure is also low due to my defect. None of this however stops me. I am 24 years old and a senior in college. I will be graduating soon and heading off to graduate school. I am a CHD warrior and I can do anything.