The Two Sides of My Heart
“I don’t think he is going to make it.” These are the words of the doctors that delivered me into my mother’s arms on the day of my birth. I was born about a month premature and because of the way I had developed, my heart had a hole in it – literally leaking blood. I was born with a heart murmur, which is “an extra sound” that a heart makes when pumping blood through the body. There are two types of heart murmurs: innocent ones and abnormal ones. Innocent heart murmurs are not serious enough for treatment. However, abnormal ones, which is the one I had, required treatment right from my first breaths out of the womb. Now, the murmur has sealed itself after some treatment was given to me when I was young and my heart is, as doctors now put it, pumping healthily. This is my hearts’ story but my parents have their own stories to tell and that is where the two sides of my heart come from.
My mom, Tracey, has smoked cigarettes since she was sixteen years old; she is now forty-five years old and still smokes a pack-a-day. On top of that, my mom’s parents do not have the healthiest heart-life either. My grandfather on my mom’s side has had quadruple-bypass surgery to help his heart and my grandmother has had issues with weight since she was young. Both my grandfather and grandmother do not exercise and so they are at risk for even more problems, as they get even older. My mom’s side of the family is littered with heart issues so it is no surprise that I would also be born with at least one heart defect. This is the first side of my heart and it is not a particularly good one. My dad’s side of the family is much healthier and that makes up the other side of my heart.
My father, Rick, has never smoked cigarettes, not even a cigar if I recall correctly. My dad often exercises, at least four times-a-week, at our local gym. On top of that, my father’s parents are pretty healthy individuals. Both walk every day to keep their bodies in motion. Also, both go bowling and play golf sometimes so they can get some exercise from sports. Each have their own vices like any older couple as well though; my grandfather has high blood pressure and has to continually watch what he eats, and my grandmother have to watch what she eats as well. However, thanks to their healthy lifestyles, they should live to be 100 years old. This is the other side of my heart story and it is definitely a good story to be told.
I do not blame my parents, especially my mom, for my own health. Even though hereditary traits are important, I have the greatest hand to play in my heart health. What I choose to eat, whether I choose to exercise or not, and how I handle stress in my life all have the greatest impact on my heart. As long as I keep on exercising and staying active, eating when necessary and not overindulging, I should be just fine. I only hope that my mom’s side of the family changes some of their habits so their hearts can get healthier as well. My heart is made from two sides, my mom and my dad. I hope that neither gives way and both sides grow healthier. Through my healthy life, I hope to make doctors rethink their statement about my life at birth.
“What Is a Heart Murmur?” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012.