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Heather Berke’s Story

NY

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Heather's Story

I was born with a heart condition. I received my first open heart surgery at age 3 to repair my condition and place a patch over my heart. Growing up I knew I was different because I had a large scar down my chest but I was healthy and always felt normal. I had yearly checkups with the cardiologist but everything was always great. I never had restrictions but I was always very girly and never got involved with sports and active things. Then I was seventeen and preparing for my senior year in high school ,I was hit with a bombshell, another open heart surgery to replace my pulmonary valve. Being young I naïve and wasn’t that worried. Surgery went great and although I felt a little more restricted then in the past, everything went on in life. I went away to school for four years, graduated college with my bachelors and am almost finished with my masters. It wasn’t until this past year that I really started realizing how lucky I am and how important my health for my heart is. The beginning of the year was rough and I went through a lot emotionally. I was really stressed out and I began having palpitations multiple times a day. It was a really scary time. After visiting the cardiologists’ and having tests run everything came back. Once the stress in my life calmed down so did the palpitations. But it has made me realize that I need to take better care of myself. It has been seven years since my last surgery. And I know that valves often have to be replaced again. I have started to live a much healthier life. For the most part my diet has always been pretty healthy, but now I make sure it is. I bought an elliptical and try to go on it every night for about 40 minutes. It’s not just to keep active but it’s helping me deal with stress. Stress is a tough thing to deal with and it’s important that I have a way to let it out because I don’t want to build it up and get palpitations again. Its inevitable that I will have another surgery someday but the more healthy I am, the better chance I have of putting it in the far future.

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