In 2012, I curled up in my bed, pleading with God to save me from this disease. Life was almost unbearable. I couldn’t keep living the way I was, in and out of the hospital, lost as a person, a stranger in my own skin, and in what felt like one thousand pieces on the floor. I was broken, right where God wanted me to be. The only thing, I didn’t know that back then. I wanted to be healed and for my old life to be given back to me. I thought I had endured enough. That was really the beginning of my journey. I needed that moment of brokenness to get me to where I am today. If I was going to reach my someday, I had to fight for it.
Rock climbing saved my life. I honestly never realized the difficulty in this sport until I fully submerged myself into the lifestyle. It is so much more than the selfies you find on social media, with flocks of women posing on walls. Rock climbing is filled with blood, sweat and tears! What was I getting myself into, right?! I have had calluses ripped off my hands and fingers, bruised finger tips, blood blisters on my toes, gashes (which are now scars) on my arms and gut-wrenching pain from forcing my abdominal muscles to engage when they are completed wasted. This sport creates athletes, something I never thought I would be. At first, I could barely hold onto two hand holds at a time. I still remember when I finished my first “route”. It was so simple, but to me, it was just another mountain.
Over the last 1 ½ years, my training has led me to the point where I’m finally good enough to begin competing. I am still so new to this world, and completely stoked to be here. Every day I make a decision to eat heart healthy, and be active. I kept feeling closer and closer to that someday. I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to have the strength and heart of everyone else around me. Rather than using my heart as an excuse to not complete a route, I would push myself harder until I completed it. I slowly began realizing that I couldn’t really use the excuse of “my heart isn’t strong enough” anymore.
It wasn’t until today that I finally believed my heart can do the same as anyone else – it may just take a little more physical effort on my part. For the first time in my life, my cardiologist was unable to hear my heart murmur. I assure you all that my heart defects are still there, but somehow, training allowed the rest of my heart to become stronger. My heart is learning to compensate for its structural insufficiencies; something I was told was impossible. Today, I believe in the possibility of impossibility. Today, I am living my “someday”.
I have been in tears all day; happy tears. Through my determination and unwavering commitment to my health, I get to live a long life. Yes, I still have heart disease. I still take daily medication, have palpitations from time to time and traumatic cardiac events. However, my appointment today proved that I did it. God allowed me to break so many years ago so that I would have the drive to get to today; my someday. I am now the best and strongest version of myself for the two loves of my life; my son Gerrick, and boyfriend Dave. I’m so blessed to have you both in my life, and promise that I will be around for a long time.
The next step of my journey begins now – there are millions of individuals suffering from heart disease. Some are at their lowest and experiencing hopelessness. I want to be a voice for the hopeless and a story that inspires others to push harder than ever before to get their life back. I can honestly say that it’s worth it – you just have to believe in yourself. If you have to start it alone, as I did, it will only make you that much stronger. The scariest part is the moment of truth; that is when you decide your fate to back down, or make the push.
Just remember, God’s purpose isn’t always to heal your physical ailments. I believe that in God all things are possible, but I also believe His purpose for us is to experience a life of joy, despite this disease. This allows our disease to be a source of strength in accomplishing the extraordinary. Don’t sit around waiting for God to heal you. Stand up, fight and allow God the flexibility to work in a way you never though possible. Just remember, YOU have to do the work.
Today, I am #HeartStrong ….. who’s next?