My name is Molly.
I am 32 years old.
I am Imperfectly Perfect.
I was born with Congenital Heart Disease, which consists of Pulmonary Valve Regurgitation, Bifascicular Block (beginning to now lead to full heart block), enlarged right ventricle, and enlarged right atrium. I went through 2 failed heart catheterizations, a full thyroidectomy. I am receiving an implanted heart monitor the beginning of November 2017, and a pacemaker at the beginning of 2018. Through Instagram, I have had the opportunity to meet so many individuals with CHD, including CHD families. I love having the ability to connect with other heart warriors, and help in providing them with hope for the future.
Growing up, we never knew I had heart disease. I am a classically trained ballerina, and was always pushing myself hard as an athlete to break the stereotypes of what a female could actually do. I was always short of breath, struggling through 6-hour master classes, and experiencing dizzy spells, heart palpitations, and arrhythmias. My primary care physicians just chalked it up to teenage hormones, and informed me I did not have heart problems. It was not until after I had my son that a doctor listened to my heart, and told me what I had always kind of known; I had a murmur. From there, it was multiple tests, failed procedures to fix arrhythmias, and watching parts of my heart begin to degrade. Due to being an athlete, I just kept doing what I have always done, which eventually led me to rock climbing. I’m now a competitive rock climber, and training for American Ninja Warrior. Although the electrical system in my heart is beginning to completely fail, and I will need a pacemaker in a few months, I’m not letting it stop me from living.
I learned suffering through my heart disease diagnosis, and subsequent surgeries. I experienced what it was like to survive for a few years, before I pushed myself to life again.
This disease taught me to not have excuses, and push my body and heart to be as strong as possible. I learned to live for each day, each moment, and not take the people I love for granted. I’m so blessed to have my son, Gerrick, and love of my life Dave, to experience each day with. We make memories, travel, adventure, rock climb, and simply enjoy our time together. My disease just made me learn to love life again, because I know how easily it could be taken away from me.
For anyone going through the pain I experienced, I would say have hope. I know what it’s like to cry on my bed, and say, “this is no life”. I remember the agony of learning bad news at every new appointment. I know a life without hope, filled with darkness, and not knowing if there would ever be a life worth living. I made it out to the other side so I could tell you that there is a life worth living, and that you don’t have to merely “survive”. You get to push yourself, set your own limits, and live every moment as if it’s a gift. It’s painfully difficult, and a hard road, but find the hope in your disease, and never give up. We all have that idea of what our “someday” will look like. Nothing will ever be perfect, but it will be amazing, and completely worth the hard work and positive attitude. I’m thankful for my disease, because it gave me a second chance to live life the right way, and I will never go back to the way it used to be.
There is hope in every heartbeat, and I encourage anyone struggling with their heart disease, or that of a loved one, to please reach out to me.
We are strong.
We are heart warriors!
Written November 2017