Sorry for the delay with this blog post! School work got crazy at the end of the year with finals so I wanted to make sure I had the time to write a quality update! Make sure you read to the end! We’ve got some exciting news to announce!
Almost as soon as I could walk I fell in love. I fell in love with the sport of horseback riding. Desperate to get on a horse, I begged my mom for years. She finally gave in and allowed me to start taking lessons for my 6th birthday. Looking back, I am continuously amazed by my mother’s incredible strength. It must have been terrifying to permit her oldest daughter, who also a congenital heart defect, to partake in a notoriously dangerous sport. However, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity as the equestrian world has had a huge influence on me.
Most equestrians will tell you that their time at barns and with their horses has strengthened their work ethic, improved their sportsmanship, showed them how to handle multiple responsibilities, and more. I, too, experienced the same personal improvements, however, the world of equestrian sports also did so much more for me. It provided me with an escape.
While astride a horse, I was no different from the other riders in the ring with me during practices or competitions. My heart defect was not a factor as to how well I could do. Combining our mental and physical strengths, it was just my horse and me working together to fly over the fences as elegantly as possible. Everyday I am so grateful for being able to take part in a sport that allowed me to feel so unrestricted.
A huge portion of this freeing atmosphere has been my coaches. Despite my heart, they never treated me any differently from any of their other students. I am considered to be completely equal. Over time, this sentiment transferred over into my own personal view of myself, allowing me to feel more normal.
I strongly believe that finding a source of normalcy is incredibly important for anyone with any type of medical condition. Not limited to sports, painting, writing, playing video games, anything else all qualify as a source of normalcy. All of them can be used as methods of connecting oneself with a sense of feeling normal.
Making life difficult at times, there are inherent differences and hardships associated with having a congenital heart defect. However, reminders of normalcy, reminders that you are capable of doing things “normal” people can, help in promoting a more positive perspective about life and one’s body.
Now time for some news from Erin’s Fund! As you all may or may not have noticed, the website has a new feature called “Talk To Erin.” If you fill out the form on the page, it will send an email to me and I will answer it as soon as I can (now that school is out for the summer, I should have more time!). If you know anyone who has a congenital heart defect (CHD) or parents whose child was diagnosed with a CHD and have any questions or you believe could benefit from talking to me, please direct them to the page and I will answer them all to the best of my ability! The page isn’t limited to just those individuals either! If anyone has any questions about ToF, how I have coped with it (which will also be shown through my blogs), or just about my story in general, feel free to ask! If there are any questions that I cannot answer or if I feel that I am not qualified to provide a helpful response, I will try to direct the individuals to some potentially useful resources. I can’t wait to hear from you all!
♡ – Erin