My “Vocation”

It is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week and I never thought in a million years how important this week would be to me for the rest of my life. When anyone finds out that I have had Open Heart Surgery, whether I’ve just met this person or have known for awhile, the immediate reaction is, “oh my gosh, you are so young.” Now, at times, it aggravates me that thats what people think, but I am not going to get angry at every person who thinks I have developed Coronary Artery Disease at the age of 23, but rather educate what my health problem is. I did not develop Cornary Artery Disease at the age of 23, but was a late diagnosis for a Congenital Heart Defect in January of 2012. Coronary Artery and Congenital are two competely different issues of the heart. A Congenital Heart Defect is a problem of the heart that was present at birth. Most babies born with CHD are detected right away and either have Open heart Surgery or are watched as they grow up. Then, they are some people who live almost a quarter of a century not knowing their is anything majorly wrong with the structure and functioning of their heart. I fall into the second category mentioned 🙂 I get asked a lot about my story and since it is Congenital Heart Defect awareness week, I figured now would be the time to share and educate.

I graduated with my undergrad in Early Childhood Education in December of 2011. After a couple of interviews, I landed my first “adult” job in the beginning of January. Like other jobs, a physical was required to be able to start working at this new job. Scheduled my physical for the following week. All was good and then a murmur was heard. It was not a typical murmur heard, but rather a relatively soft one that you need an extremely well trained ear for. As this concerned my nurse practitioner, I had to promise her I would follow through with an echocardiogram(an ultrasound of the heart) or she wouldn’t sign the form. At this point, I had never shown any signs or symptoms of CHD so I thought she was nuts, but I’ll follow through with my promise and move on. The following week I had the echocardiogram done and the next morning received a phone call from the nurse practitioner stating I had 2 holes in my heart and she wanted me to see a Cardiologist right away. I still thought she was just crazy, but for my own worry some personality, I thought it may not be such a bad idea. So, I see a cardiologist for the first time in my entire life and he was BAFFLED! Between looking at my EKG’s and echos, he was puzzled and thought it was best to refer me to a team of people that deal with Congenital Heart Defects. A this point, I feel perfectly fine, making descent money, and thought my lack of energy was normal from just from having completed college. So, I decided to sort of move on from all these odd doctors appointments and start really living my new adult life. I got a brand new car, was looking into apartments and hung out with my family and friends. It was great. A couple of months went by and I got a phone call from the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia looking to see if I could follow up from my what my local cardiologists sent to them. At this point, I was looking at another great job opportunity and when you work with kids, they mostly likely will require a physical. I got offered a wonderful job and accepted it. This specific place had their own health care facility and were able to give physicals for free. As a fairly recent college graduate, this was a no brainer to get it done through them. Boy was I wrong. Of course, a murmur was heard. And this time, I didn’t get the signature to sign off. I thought to myself, why are all these people saying there is something wrong, but can’t figure it out. It was probably one of the most confusing times for me in my life. So, I called the Adult Congenital heart Center-a joint program between the Children’s Hospital of Philadephia and Penn Medicine. I managed to make my way to the big city all by myself thinking it would be a quick in and out type of appointment. On June 22,2012 I was diagnosed with a VSD, ASD and a cleft in my mitral valve. Still to this day, these terms confuse the heck out of me, but man are they powerful words. In other words, I had a huge hole in between my right and left ventricle along with a cleft or slit in my mitral valve. The sentence I thought I would never hear in my life came out of 3 different doctors mouths that day. “The only way to fix this is unforuntely through Open Heart Surgery.” Yes, I remember word for word and the way it was told to me. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I don’t think I have every cried like that in front of such high end professional doctors. But I learned I am only human. I remember getting in my car after leaving the appointment and broke down for hours. My world had literally been turned upside down. As I went to grab the parking ticket in my purse to pay, I accidently grabbed my rosary that I got in Poland from when I studied abroad in college instead. I’ll admit, a part of me wanted to throw it back in my purse, but deep down I knew this was going to be the biggest test of my faith. I had my first Open Heart Surgery on August 28, 2012. The weeks leading up to that day were something I have no words for. That day made me have to do something, I never really thought I would have to ever do in my life. Give everything to God. It was one of THE hardest and saddest things in my life because at the time of saying good bye to your family, so many emotions are present. Being taken back to the OR room, I had this unexplainable amount of peace within in me. I knew God would guide my surgeons hands, that my heart would restart normally after being on Bypass and that he would be with me throughout the whole recovery process as that is a whole other ordeal. Here I am 2 and half years later typing this 🙂 God is good. Yes, there are great, good and bad days, but I am alive and able to live a life that if that murmur wasn’t discovered, I may not have. I am a big advocate for physicals. Heck, I owe my life to that nurse practitioner for saving my mine and not to sound like a commerical, but it could save yours too! 🙂

I believe this was a few hours after my Open Heart. My cousin Michelle is my best friend and someone stood by it all and I am eternally grateful. <3

I believe this was a few hours after my Open Heart. My cousin Michelle is my best friend and someone stood by it all and I am eternally grateful. ❤

If you have kept up this far, I applaud you and am so grateful as it is a heavy and emotional topic that needs more awareness as it is the #1 birth defect in America.

That is my story. It’s not done as those who get Open Heart Surgery are never “fixed.” I am beyond blessed to know as of today, my little heart is keeping up pretty well and I pray everyday that it continues. Living with a Congenital Heart Defect is one of my many vocations in life. It is something that I have to live out each and every day of my life and do it in the best way I can.  Although, it wasn’t a “calling” for me to live with CHD, I look at it as a way for me to love my broken heart in a way I didn’t think possible. There are days that I absolute suck at this part, but I learn that’s its ok to have sucky days. My scar is something I cherish every single day. It is a raw reminder of all the suffering I endured, but helps me realize how Christ truly died on the cross for my sins. I have met some amazing people because of this journey and I wouldn’t change it for anything. CHD is something I will have for the rest of my life and I hope and pray I never lose sight how life is the most precious gift we are given. Please help spread the word about Congenital Heart Defects and pray for those who struggle every day physically, mentally and emotionally. My goal is that someone might stumble upon this blog in searching for hope and answers the way I did 3 years ago and may find peace and comfort knowing the Lord will provide. Thank you for letting me share my story:)

This was the first time I held My niece, Nora after 10 whole weeks!! One of the greatest moments of my life :)

This was the first time I held My niece, Nora after 10 whole weeks!! One of the greatest moments of my life 🙂

We were both pysched to be in each others arms!!!

We were both pysched to be in each others arms!!!

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Moving on with TRUST.

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Do you ever wonder why me? Do you begin to think about how an entire “plan” can be thrown out the window in a matter of seconds and not sure why it happened to you? I had to reflect on my why this very past week. Presently, I cannot begin to understand why me, but then I realize how my plan is not his plans for me. Hence, “why” I will not understand now, maybe not tomorrow or maybe not for a long time. I am human, so it’s only natural for wanting to have a plan in action for your life. The funny thing is that I am actually not really a “planner” nor have I been in the past. In the last year or so is when I started “planning” out my life and my future. And boy was I slapped in the face for that. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think being a planner is positive and needed, but it’s how you view the results of your plan that can either help or hinder moving forward in life. This plan that I decided to put in action has probably been one of the greatest challenges in my life.

You would think that being diangosed with a life threatening condition or having to have major Open Heart Surgery would be worse, but in reality it’s not and I bet you are thinking I am crazy. The difference? One word. TRUST. The time of my orginal diaganosis with a congential heart defect and then preparing for Open Heart Surgery allowed me to not have a plan, because I frankly couldn’t. I didn’t know what the outcome would be physically,mentally and emtionally. I had to live my life by a day to day basis. I didn’t have a choice, but to trust. It allowed me to put my entire heart(spiritually and physically) into the hands of my surgeons, nurses, doctors, family, friends, but most importanly God.

Looking back, I now know I need to put that trust and faith for my future back into my life. It’s a humbling experience learning that because I already feel blessed that God took care of me during my surgery and recovery days so why would he take care of me again? Like I said, its humbling, but that is a virtue I am learning more of in my present life. It’s a virtue that we all try to hide from, but in reality, we need more of it. I am taking a step back as I begin a new week with what I didn’t know I would be doing, but with a different attitude and greater increase in trust in God. I have realized throughout my life, God’s plan for me is way better than what I think my plans should be for my life. It is a time where once again, he is telling me to trust his plan and take it day by day. Below is one of my favorite quotes from the bible and something I am clinging onto in my life today. If you are feeling this way in your life at all, cling hard onto this verse 🙂 Happy Sunday, my dear and faithful friends!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Busy much?

Before my Open Heart(blog post on that will be coming soon), I was always tired so I hated being busy. 2 and half years later, I LOVE being busy. I look forward and am thankful to wake up each morning and start my busy day. How awesome is it to be busy? I know some might think I am crazy, but life is an adventure. Lately, life has definitely been crazy, but SO good. The holidays are upon us and I couldn’t more excited to have so much craziness going on between Christmas shopping, family time, working and preparing our hearts for the birth of christ. It means that my heart is beating strong and that god gave me the opportunity to be ‘normal.”

As the craziness of the holidays die down, I will be embarking on a new vocation that I am so thankful and excited to begin. You will have to wait a little longer to find out what it is 🙂

I pray and hope you are busy because it just means you are ALIVE and LIVING.photo-3

Are your co-workers really your best friends?

Did you happen to stumble upon that article about 29 signs your co-worker is really your best friend? Well, if you didn’t, take a look below.

http://www.bustle.com/articles/44396-29-signs-your-coworker-is-really-your-best-friend-because-theres-only-one-person-whos-seen

For some people, work can be downright hard whether it’s between gossipy and lazy co-workers or the plain old atmosphere that can cause major headaches and just praying the day comes to an end soon.

I have been blessed with the ladies I work with at my current job. If you asked me a few years ago that in a few years I would be close friends with these ladies, I’d probably laugh in your face. Not because of who they are, but rather of how different we all are.  I do believe that certain people are put in your life for a reason and presently in my life that couldn’t be further form the truth. We each come from all different walks of life, but somehow bring something unique and precious to the group both at and off work.  We each have mutual respect and admiration for all that we have been through and continue to cheer each other on in the most humorous and loving way possible. Even at 6am in the morning, New York accents or profusely reminding people how I hate animals(don’t worry, no haters here, just not a personal pet lover)….you know who you are;). Although, this job is a stepping stone to where or what we all want to be, I can’t imagine not having worked with each of you.

The Gals.

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The Melting Pot this past Summer.

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Whose idea was this again???

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I hope that you find your co-worker(s) to be your best friend(s) because it can make or break your attitude towards your job. Ladies, I could write a novel of how much I love each of you and could never thank you for all that you have done for me. I am so grateful for all the memories we have and can’t wait for many more! Our 24/7 group chat brings so much joy to my life. Clearly, we are all staying best friends:)

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Being the “mom”

Dinner in the crockpot, kitchen cleaned, laundry going, boys got to their activities safe and sound. I’d call that a success.

My parents are away this weekend(mom comes back tonight!) and with still living at home, I have the pleasure and luxury to help them out a lot, especially when they go out of town. I actually love to help them out because they have and still do so much for me. It’s honestly the least I can do. Plus…it’s good practice for when I become a Mom one day.😊 Although, my younger siblings are teens or approaching teens, both of them can’t drive quite yet so I always get a good dose of being the chauffeur when my Mom is out of town. Each time my parents are away, I definitely am reminded of the sacrifices they make each and every morning. Yep, no extra hour of sleep for me this morning as I had to make sure the youngest was out the door and ready to go for a super early Baseball game (seriously, who schedules these games at the crack of dawn?). But, that’s being a parent and I can’t wait to experience that one day with my own children. I am so thankful my parents have shown my siblings and I unconditional sacrifices from the moment they become parents. They are nothing short of amazing.

Dinner in the crockpot: Cream Cheese Chicken Chili. Oh, my mouth is watering just typing the title of this delicious recipe. Living with teen and almost teen boys, this dish is a hit and will be gone in no time. This dish credit goes to a dear friend where I first read the recipe on her blog many months ago. She has some amazing recipes. Check her out at http://www.totheheights.com.

What’s dinner looking like for you?

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Take 2!

Hello World! I am back into the world of blogging! I am so excited to be sharing so many wonderful ideas, testimonies, recipes, DIY projects, and so much more on a variety of different topics. You can be sure to find everything from CHD(Congenital Heart Defect) Awareness to the use of Essential Oils! I wanted to share a little bit about the title behind this blog site. Surviving with Heart is something that came to my mind about a year ago. I was hesitate to use it, but as time went on, I felt this tug on my heart that those 3 words can mean so much for one person. It did for me and still does. For those of you who know me personally, you might have an inclination as to why the word “heart’ is in the title. Not sure why? Don’t worry at all. I can guarantee you there will be a post or many explaining the reason behind that;) As for now, I welcome you and thank you for coming along this journey with me. I hope you enjoy!