Miracles happen everyday, and sometimes I feel like we underestimate God and what he can do. A lot of people don’t believe in miracles anymore but I do, and hopefully at the end of my story you will too. Because I’m a living miracle.
I’ve lived a pretty great life and have many accomplishments I’m proud of. At the time of writing this I’m 24 years-old. I’ve graduated high school and college with an associates degree in graphic design. I work for a marketing agency in Hammond LA, 5 Stones Media. I’ve been there for three years and started as a Social Media Manager, then moved up to Graphic Designer, and now I’m the Photographer/Videographer where I shoot and edit almost every video or photo that leaves our office. Needless to say, I have a great job and love the people I work for and with. Aside from work, I have great parents who have always supported me. I’ve never experienced hunger or homelessness. God has been incredibly good to my ungrateful, undeserving self.
There was a time though where doctors gave me only a 50/50 chance of survival. Yeah, you read that correctly. I had a 50/50 shot to live. I was born with a congenital heart disease called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome or HLHS. That’s just a big, fancy medical term to say that I was born with just a half a heart. My parents were given two options. 1) I could have 3 reconstructive open heart surgeries or 2) await a heart transplant. Without one or the other I would die. My parents chose for me to have the reconstructive surgeries. After they made that choice, they were given the option for my surgeries to be done at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans where the mortality rate was high but close to home, or I could be flown to Philadelphia where the inventor of the surgery I needed (Dr. Norwood) was practicing. In Philadelphia the survival rate was much better. The decision might seem easy, but for my parents it was difficult, because if my they chose Philadelphia they would have to leave my brother, who was 10, and my sister, who was 5, at home with family members. They decided to have the surgeries done in Philadelphia.
Now that my parents had chosen Philadelphia it was time to fly. I was only a few days old when I flew to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). I had my first surgery at six days old, my second at seven months old and my third at 17 months old. I had minor complications, but all in all the surgeries and recovery went great. Growing up I didn’t have to be on any medicine, have any more surgeries, and just followed up with a cardiologist once a year.
When I was in high school I started to have problems with my oxygen levels. The average person’s oxygen level is 95%-100% and mine was as low as 78%-79%. That a significant difference, so I underwent 3 minor surgeries to increase my oxygen levels. That was fixed…but seemed to cause another problem. After the surgeries, I had high pressure headaches which was caused by increased spinal fluid. My doctors decided to handle that with a spinal tap. It worked!!! But only for a little while. I ended up having five spinal taps and a blood patch, but the headaches still came back. This took place over a 2 year period. I was in and out of the hospital and saw eight different specialists. None of them could figure out what was wrong.
As you could imagine I don’t remember having open heart surgeries. I don’t remember the pain and fear. So this situation was probably the most difficult time for me. Not only was it difficult for me, it was hard for my family as well, because no one knew what was going on. My parents had to constantly take off of work to take me to and from doctor’s appointments. I had to be home schooled the second semester of my junior and senior year of high school (2012 – 2013). It was literally trial and error for 2 years. In this timeframe I remembering questioning God and wondered why He could let this happen to me after all I’d already been through.
Finally the time had come and the doctors figured it out. In 2013 they decided to place a shunt, which is a small tube placed in my back that wraps around my stomach to drain the excess fluid which prevents headaches. Everything seemed to be awesome, but unfortunately it malfunctioned twice. These malfunctions required me to have two more surgeries.
Since then I’ve been doing great. I’ve recently had a cardiologist check up and my doctor told me that I was probably his best case. I am truly blessed!
All in all, I’ve had about 15 surgeries. These surgeries took a toll on me mentally, physically, and spiritually. Not only did it take a toll on me, but also my family. My parents had to give up so much when I was born. They had to be away from my brother and sister for weeks at a time. When I was having problems with headaches they were constantly stressed out and worried, and they had to miss work for the multiple doctors’ appointments and hospital stays.
It’s been a long, hard journey, but I’m here today to tell it. I’m here to tell you that no matter how big your problems are, God is bigger. People always say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. I disagree 100%. I think God gives you way more then you can handle alone so you have to be faithful and rely on him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.