A “blue baby” became my title at the age of two weeks old. It was July 1960 when not much was known about congenital heart defects. The doctors explained to my parents that because I was only two weeks old, I was too young and too small for the surgery I needed. “Take her home and let her grow,” they said, “but it is a possibility that you could find her dead in her crib one morning.” God had different plans! At three-months-old, I went into distress. If I didn’t have the surgery I would die. At the same time, my chance of living through the surgery was very little. By God’s grace, I lived!
I was eventually diagnosed with a Double-Inlet, Left Ventricle, Pulmonary Atresia and Chronic Cyanosis. Things went well after my first surgery, but after my fourth birthday, my health began to decline. By the time I was four and a half I remember being able to walk only two steps and then I would have to stop and squat to breathe. I was so purple that people would ask if I had been eating a purple popsicle. January 1965 found me preparing for my second Blalock-Taussig Shunt.
My life has been one miracle after another. The doctors continually predicted that I “would not live” to be five, then a teenager. The fact that I was thirty-two-years old before I needed a third surgery totally baffled the medical doctors. On December 1, 1992, Dr. Gordon Danielson at Mayo Clinic “installed piece of 7mm plastic tubing in my chest” for a Central Shunt and a put a Bi-directional Glen in place. I felt so much better and I could return to my normal life! This was important because by that time God had blessed me with a high school diploma, two years of college, a husband of eleven years and a nine-year-old daughter. I have had a very normal life.
I credit the “normal” life to my first cardiologist and my parents. The cardiologist very firmly said to my mother, “She has a heart defect. Do not turn her into an invalid! Treat her the same way you would your son. If she needs to be spanked, swat her on the butt and sit her in a chair until she turns pink.” And that is what my parents did. They were not partial. They did hold back on punishment. In addition, if I wanted to try something new, they let me. When I wanted to play volleyball, they let me sign up for the team. (I was awful at it and tired quickly.) I was involved in several organizations at school, started working at age 15 and had three jobs right out of high school. After two years of college, I married and the next year we adopted our daughter. God has truly blessed me! To read more about my adventures, please visit my website www.kimsheartbeat.com, where you will find the book I wrote about growing up Congenital Heart and my CHD Awareness Shop!
Left to right: Tom (my husband), Kim (me), Stephanie (my daughter) and Jim (her husband)