The events that transpired last week involving Boston hurt my heart.
One of the victims who was seriously injured and needed a partial leg amputation is a woman named Erika. She and I went to the same youth group in high school and I looked up to her as one of the cool upperclassmen. She is a genuinely beautiful person both inside and out. What was her first concern after coming out of sedation? The students she teaches.
The second thing that got me was that Boston was my first trip after I decided to conquer all 50 states. I didn't decide to blog until after my second trip which is why I haven't written about it. That city captured my heart though and if its winters weren't so cold, I would move there without hesitation. "Boston Strong" isn't just a cute slogan to unite people after the tragedy, it is a truth that I experienced during my 12 hours there. That city is magical in the best way possible. It's rich in United States history, has breathtaking buildings, and the locals I enjoyed at the sports bar were friendly and proud and a lot of fun to be around. They even welcomed a rival Orioles fan while the O's were taking on the Red Sox at Fenway.
While Erika and I were never close friends, I've thought a lot this week on how I would react if one of my close friends was ever in a situation like hers. Her life forever changed in an instant. She will have to relearn how to walk and do many different things. Her "typical" life is no more. I can't relate to life changing so quickly.
My typical life has never been typical. I'm not a CHD patient who was diagnosed as an adult. My life stopped being typical the moment I was born. I never fully participated in PE classes in school. I've never played on a sports team. I can only ride one roller coaster at amusement parks. I only lived a few hours without scars all over my body. I see a cardiologist on a regular basis. I never leave home without my health passport that includes my doctor's phone number and my health information. I don't consume caffeine (not including decaf coffee and chocolate). I can't take medicines with decongestants in them. I have an advanced directive. I challenge you to name another 25 year old in your life that lives like I do.
I don't point these things out for pity. I am fiercely in love with my life. My CHD has shaped the person that I am today. It continually challenges me and teaches me. It opened up my world to wonderful people I would have never met if my life was typical. While I don't have experience living like a normal person, I'm grateful that I don't know differently. I don't understand what I'm missing out on besides caffeine and let me tell you, some days I'm willing to risk the side effects just for the jolt of energy. I'm thankful that my life is the way that it is. I wouldn't trade it for a normal life. I don't live my days longing for the "better" times. I still live in my better times. They just look different than yours.
From what I know about Erika, she will soldier through adapting to her new life and she'll do it with a smile. If you would like to financially help her create her new typical, please visit www.thebrannockfund.com.