My misnamed twin that wasn’t would later be called Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). The fix should have been easy enough. A patch to close it. This is now, that was then. 1977.
And adding to the fray was a new development. I also suffered from L-transposition in which my heart is reversed. Don’t worry, it’s still on the left side, but the valves and aortas are…flipped. Imagine looking at someone’s heart in the mirror or when you see an ambulance sign not reflected in the mirror, it’s backwards or reversed.
According to my father, I should see everything sideways, which explains why I failed Geometry three times, have visual-spatial difficulties, and can’t draw a straight line.
I figured out work arounds for all three of those things -Geometry class became of Math of Consumer Economics, I learned I walk and drive better when listening to music, and I can draw a straight line if I’m patient and take my time. Thank you to all those art classes at the museum all those years ago!
On the flip side, no pun intended, I also learned it’s okay to color outside the lines and that has opened up creative endeavors I might never have thought of otherwise.
So, what the heck does all this medical terminology mean? VSD and L-transposition. It sounds like an eye chart, doesn’t it? Imagine hearing these terms tossed about at four, twelve, even nineteen.
My parents told me not long ago they had to study up on the medical terms themselves. The American Heart Association has come a long way in their own understanding, I believe. Because here’s the kicker when your ticker’s not quite up to snuff – in the 60s and 70s, few with my medical issues lived into adulthood and so doctors had to grow up too. Pediatric cardiologists morphed into Grown-Up Cardiologists or GUCs.
They were the interliers between cardiac issues stemming from childhood and those medical issues which didn’t manifest until adulthood. So, what do you do about the children with heart defects who grow up into adulthood?
Create another type of doctor, the doctor who understands both pediatric cardiology and that these medical issues didn’t manifest themselves because of bad habits, only that these children were born with heart defects with no control over the why.
The options were either let the problem take care of itself or operate. There was no in-between, not really, for these children.