A Healthy Heart is what I need to Achieve My Dreams

A Healthy Heart is what I need to Achieve My Dreams
By: Rosario Castaneda

We all have dreams, goals, and desires we want to reach in our life time. What is exactly my ambition? It is to become a successful buyer for a well known retailer and to give back what I have been given, hope. Ever since I can remember I wanted to work in fashion, but the one obstacle I had to face was possibly losing my father because of heart disease. How has the importance of heart health affected me? Living a healthy lifestyle, especially when it comes to heart health has shaped my entire life. It has come to affect the choices I make, it has affected my family, it has come to bring where I am today and will always be part of my future.

When I was 6 years old, my grandfather died because of an unknown heart condition. He died the week my parents were suppose to get remarried. We did not take into account the affect it would take on our future. As years passed I grew into a teenager, my father started to get sick and doctors could not determine what was wrong. We took many trips to different doctor offices; they all diagnosed him with different illnesses. A couple years passed until finally it was determined that my father had heart failure. I did not understand what it was at the time but around the same time period my uncle also became ill. He was hospitalized in UCLA and it was determined he needed a heart transplant immediately. The heart transplant process was a difficult one that was hard on my entire family, seeing someone after a heart transplant is like seeing someone in a horrible coma expect ten times worst because tubes are place through their entire body. Seeing my uncle in a sense that was unrecognizable was terrifying; he slowly started to recover.
A small amount of time had passed and it was determined that my father would need a heart transplant also. I could not picture the thought of seeing my father in the same way which I had to see my uncle. The process started off slowly we went to meeting but then changed rapidly to the point where my father wanted us to make possible funeral arrangements just in case things did not turn out for the best; I cried at school and home. Suddenly my father fell very ill to the point that the doctors determined he was at level A, which meant he needed to stay hospitalized and receive a heart transplant immediately. It was a night in December, which also happens to be my finals week, it was close to midnight when we got the call that they had a donor. I remember that night clearly as we rushed to the hospital; the operation lasted the whole day and after my father had his new heart.

At first, my father did not recognize anyone in the room, he himself did not look like the man I knew my entire life; it was hard to even be in the same room seeing him in so much pain. My father’s recovery took a while and we spent holidays, birthday, and many other days in the hospital room. It also took a toll on our financial and personal lives. Finally, my father started to feel better but the amounts of medicine he had to take started to have an enormous affect on him. It was soon determined he would start dialysis and now needed a kidney transplant.

We have in the last couple months of this year been able to get my father on the kidney transplant list; however, that list is very long and the wait is years not just months. The process is again long but we are willing to wait patiently. The choices I make have revolved around my father and the conditions we have had to face as a family. During his transplant week, I had finals which I missed because the hospital was far from the school I was attending; they automatically fail you if you are not present for your final. I have had to miss out on job opportunities because my mother does not drive so I had to take him to doctor’s appointments. The schools I have always chosen have been close to home because I know my family can need me at any time. It has taken me longer to finish school due to the issues I have had to face.

Currently, my other uncle has been diagnosed with heart failure also; he has been placed on the donor list. It has now been determined that my father’s side of the family has inherited hereditary heart disease. I myself, along with my other cousins, have a 50/50 chance of also becoming ill. However, being sick has never stopped my father in achieving his goals. He works everyday and is enjoying what he can do on a daily basis.

My dream has always been New York and one day I plan to live there. Living a healthier life is something I also take into account. I do not want to fall ill and put my family through another hard time. I try to exercise and eat three meals a day. I am the first in my family to go to a University; I plan to make my hero, my father proud and graduate. Even though I always know I have a chance of attaining heart failure I know that if I finish school and get a job doing what I love, I have not only made my myself proud but I made my entire family proud. Heart health has changed our lives for the better it has given us hope that we can overcome anything even when it seems impossible.