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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

What do I have, exactly?

I was born on Thursday the 2nd December 1971 and today I am 40-something years old on the publication of this blog. When I was born, no-one suspected that anything was wrong. Normally a person with a heart condition is easy to identify. Normally the lips, under the fingernails and toenails as well as tongue are a purple or blue in colour due to lack of oxygen. Unlike "normal" heart condition cases, I was a healthy pink baby.
Months later I caught what most infants catch. A cold and a throat infection. This infection caused my heart to pump harder and louder than usual and for the first time a doctor could hear that there was something wrong. Even though I cannot remember that day, I know my parents can. It was the day everything changed for them.
Of course it was always going to be different for me. Even if the problem wasn't discovered then, it would have been eventually.
Pediatric Cardiologists were consulted, tests were done and I was diagnosed with the following mouth-full:
Congenital heart condition, pulmonary stenosis and transposition of the big vessels.
What does this mean? Let's break it down.
Congenital heart condition: Simply means I was born this way. It means it's not a disease and hasn't occurred because of external influences such as diet, substances or injury.
Pulmonary Stenosis: This in normal colloquial language means an obstruction or a narrowing in the pulmonary valve of the heart.
Transposition of the Big Vessels: I'm still not absolutely sure about this one but from what I've gathered it means that the circuit is working backwards. The blood's going into the heart where it should be coming out and vice-versa.
A big mystery among the Pediatric Cardiologists is why I wasn't blue. With all that going on I was supposed to be as blue as a smurf! It was later established that some way, some how, a bypass had grown during my development as a fetus. Something tried to correct itself but didn't get it quite right. It certainly improved things though because without it I'd have been far less capable and I'm extremely grateful that it happened.
So what does all this mean for me? What can and can't I do?
The most troublesome symptom or side effect of this condition is that I cannot sustain aerobic exercise for very long. I can do a sprint for about 100 meters and then i need to stop and catch my breath. This happens because my heart cannot keep up with the oxygen demand of my muscles. Zombie apocalypse? Natural disaster? Dinosaur on the loose? Any of those movie scenarios in real life - my life - and I'd have to learn to hide really quickly because there is absolutely, positively no way I can out run anything. Butterflies have passed me on my bicycle.
How I'd love to be able to run for what I feel is continually like Forrest Gump but it's simply not possible.
So there we have it. What I have and how it affects me physically.
Until the next blog, bye for now.

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