My name is Lindsey Greiwe and I was born May 3, 1993. I was diagnosed with Tricuspid Atresia ASD and VSD. The best way I can describe to you my heart condition is I have half a heart. My right side of the heart is connected to the left side, for it to do all the work (kind of like a reptile heart). I wasn’t supposed to live when I was an infant. The doctors told my mother and father that if they wanted to baptize their daughter they should do it now. The doctors explained to my parents I would most likely not be alive by morning, and that’s how I became my parents “Miracle Baby.” After they baptized me that night, my stats miraculously went up and I became stable.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had to deal with all kinds of surgeries with my heart growing up, but I have my family and God to thank for the reason I have been so positive with my condition and grateful each day. My parents never let my heart condition get in the way of my dreams. I come from a family who loves sports; I played every sport and never made up an excuse with my heart condition. My father coached me through most of my life and I remember one practice in particular that I’ll never forget. He said, “Heart problem or no heart problem, don’t make excuses in life, and don’t let your challenges in life hold you back.” I’ll never forget that lesson and from there I never once made an excuse for my heart condition and acted like it wasn’t even there. I played sports and never once complained, making coaches sometimes unknowledgeable that I even had a heart condition.
At the age of 20, I went into heart failure, and was diagnosed with diastolic dysfunction of the heart. This was a very hard setback for me at the time. Doctors explained to me I could no longer be that athlete that pushed through the pain no matter what. I had to accept that I had limits now, and if I didn’t follow these limitations that I would put myself right back into heart failure by exceeding a certain heart rate. I was devastated and never thought I’d be as “athletic” in my mind again. However, I simply remembered what my father and mother taught me about when faced with challenges and not to let them set me back. The journey to recover was underway.
As I write this, I am 22 years old, and finally “normal” in my own thinking, when it comes to my heart problem. I worked up to doing 20-30 minutes on the elliptical and almost 20 minutes on the treadmill, but not exceeding my limits given to me by my cardio rehab therapists. I ran my first 10k Turkey Day Race this Thanksgiving and finished at 01:33:47.
“I am very proud of myself for how far I have come with my heart and am very grateful for having wonderful role models in my life, to tell me not to let my condition hold me back.”
I am blessed, in a way, that I do have a heart condition. Yeah, I know that sounds weird. But it’s made me face things in life that no one else has truly faced. Don’t get me wrong, if I could have a perfect heart in a second I’d take it. But having my heart condition has taught me that life is so precious, and in just one simple day everything can turn your world upside down. If that happens though, I know I’ll be just fine. And not a lot of people can say that.