Hearts are special to me. I’m the valentineRD because I’m born on Valentine’s Day. Whether you like Valentine’s Day or not, hearts abound in February. February is Heart Disease Awareness month. You may have heard of the national “Go Red For Women” campaign to bring awareness to heart disease in women but my first guest poster, Rachael Faught, wants to tell you more about the significance of February 7th – 14th during American Heart Month.
I am more than honored that my friend Rachael has chosen to tell her story and let her dual worlds collide (she writes two very different blogs) here at thevalentineRD.
Greetings and salutations. I’m Rachael Faught and I run the food, travel and event blog Glass of Win. By trade, I am a writer – a good gig if and when I can get it. My career, however, is a long and arduous body of work; a life calling that has was thrust upon me at birth, nearly 31 years ago. I am a Professional Patient. I was born with the #1 birth defect in the world: a congenital heart defect. Transposition of the great arteries and ventricular septal defect with a heart that sits center-right stage (we’re kind of a showboat), to be precise. I am legally recognized as disabled, though you’d never know it by merely looking at me. Invisible Illnesses are tricky like that. Hence, invisibility.
Before the age of nine years old, I’d already underwent three open-heart surgeries. At the age of twenty-two, I went for the Jaime Sommers makeover and received a pacemaker. Everything is about maintenance at this stage. A tune up here, an oil change there.
I don’t exactly see myself as the typical cardiac patient, though. I’m slightly bombastic, a bit cheeky and more than a dash vainglorious. Thirty years of being poked, prodded, studied and talked at has left me just a touch defensive and I have worked tirelessly to construct a perfectly unbreakable exterior. My little slice of therapeutic catharsis lies in my other blog, Offbeat Follies. Whether I’m doling out advice to medical students, or updating my readers on the status of an upcoming surgery, Offbeat Follies is my haven to be as horrible and vulgar as I please when the frustrations of life with a congenital heart defect are weighing down on me.
Another outlet I have is volunteering for a non-profit organization called Camp del Corazon. Each year, we send kids ages 7 to 17 living with any sort of cardiac woes to Catalina Island. Camp has empowered me to be selfless, silly, resilient, vulnerable and patient (okay, we’re still working on that one); it has given me the courage to reach out as well as allow others in. Camp is my compass; it has given me incomparable direction and led me to discover kindred spirits in friendships that will last a lifetime. I’m proud to say I will be celebrating my tenth campaversary in 2013.
Howland Landing – home of Camp del Corazon
This week – February 7th-14th – is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. I’m a fairly lazy participant, so I’ll direct any interested parties to the video I made last year. I leave most of the advocacy up to more capable hands – like my pals at the Adults with Congenital Heart Defect Association.
Greeting cards of my food & travel photography – donated to raise money for Camp del Corazon
BRB: Going to Ireland