Tag Archives: chicago

It all started at the beginning

I was born in the suburbs of Chicago. My parents moved from Bismark North Dakota to the Chicago area when my mom was seven months pregnant with me. This part of my story always seems miraculous to me. Who does that? Who moves when they are 2 months out from having a baby? Apparently, my parents and it’s fantastic they did as you will soon read.

When I was born, I seemed fine.

1980_woodstock

Me – new. See that hair? The nurses nicked named me “Woodstock” like the yellow bird from snoopy because my hair stood straight up. I was 8 lbs 14 oz when I was born. Another blessing as my ill health caused me to lose a lot of weight. I’m still “pink” in this photo because I haven’t crashed yet. Everyone is unaware of what is about to happen.

And then something went terribly wrong. Had I been born in North Dakota – this is the end of the story. I die. You never read this. But it isn’t the end because my parent’s trusted God’s best for them and now being near a major US city, I had a chance.

1980_blue

This is a picture of my dad holding me (with my maternal grandparents). If you look close, you can see I don’t quite look the normal “pink”. I’m a little blueish – gray. It’s called being cyanotic. It has to do with having low oxygen saturation.

While my mom was still recovering from my birth, I was put in an ambulance and rushed 40 minutes to downtown Chicago. Within the first 24 hours of life, the doctors discovered I had Pulmonary Atreisa (complete blockage of the pulmonary valve – blood could not get to the lungs to pick up oxygen), so they performed a Waterston Shunt to help reroute blood so that I could pick up oxygen from my lungs.

While this did improve my condition and bought me time, I recently learned that I was only at about 75% oxygen level. Not good enough. At around 30 days, the doctors went back in and basically “poked a hole” where my valve should have been. My mom says I “pinked right up.”

1980_first_surgery

This is a picture of me after my first surgery. I still have some pretty sweet scars from this one, including the “dent” in my leg. (I forget what normal legs look like, from day one I had a dent from the cut down IV.)

1980_nurse_babyD

I’m looking a lot better in this photo. It’s likely right before I went home or at a later check up.

Both of these surgeries were what’s called “open chest” meaning they did not stop my heart (at least, I think… I’m a little foggy on the details and my old medical records don’t provide much help). I went home at around 40 days old and that was it for a few years. I’m sure there were many doctors appointments and check ups, making sure everything was going ok.

I’ve heard stories about how I was a terrible baby (I cried a lot – screaming really). I’ve been told that my mom got approval, even encouragement, from the doctor to let me cry. It was “good for my heart.” I’m pretty sure I don’t have any screaming baby Debra pictures to share. 😉

Life moved on into toddlerhood.

Come back to read what happened when I was around 2 and a half years old.

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Filed under cardiology

Reverse the Curse

I’m a sports fan. Due to my health, I’ve never been much of an athlete – but ever since I was 14 and the 1995 Mariners pulled me in to a new world, I’ve been a sports fan.

Sometimes, this is awesome. As a teenager, all of a sudden, I had things I could talk about and really enjoy with my three brothers and dad, all of whom love sports.

Sometimes, this is not awesome.  Let me give you a quick summary of all the teams I’ve rooted for over the years:

*Seattle Mariners: In 1995, after beating the Yankees in a 5 game series (after being down 2-0) they couldn’t get past Cleveland. They lost Game 6 of the ALCS. To this day, have gotten to the ALCS one other time, but never made it to the World Series. (Even the year they won 116 games – tying the record for most wins in a season.)

*USA Hockey: In 2002, I was living in Canada for college. The Salt Lake City Olympics featured TWO gold metal hockey games (both Men’s & Women’s) where Canada beat the USA. It was miserable to watch with my Canadian friends.

*Edmonton Eskimos: I was still living in Edmonton Alberta in 2003.  The CFL team went to the Grey Cup. And Lost.

*Edmonton Oilers: 2006 – Since I went to school in Edmonton, I adopted the Oilers as my hockey team. They were the come from behind kids, only to get to the 7th game of the Stanley Cup finals, and lose.

*Seattle Seahawks: Lost the Superbowl in 2006

*Chicago Bears: They did win the Superbowl when I lived in Chicago, but I was only 5 years old and don’t remember the win.  In Grad School, it was 2007 and I lived in Chicago again. The Bears lost the Superbowl.

*Seattle Super Sonics: This one is so bad that the Sonics moved to OKC in 2008 and changed their name. I’ve been rooting against the Thunder ever since. (Maybe the one bright spot? I was forced to root for the Miami Heat to beat the Thunder in the finals. And the Heat won….Lesser of two evils.) I wrote off the NBA for a few years, until I was married to a Spurs fan.

*San Antonio Spurs: My adopted team, thanks to my husband, made it to the finals this year. As is the pattern of my life, they lost in the finals.

So there you go. And I’ll not even attempt to claim all the foibles of the Cubs as mine. They are my second favorite baseball team.  Since I was born in Chicago and have lived there a total of 8 years, the loveable losers have a special place in my heart as well.

All of that being said, I refuse to give up. I WILL cheer for my teams. And one year, one of them will WIN. I’m hoping this is the year. I’m banking on the curse being reversed. I’m ROOTING for the SEAHAWKS.  — And that’s all there is to it.

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