Words and Rumors

My freshmen year of my high school, I used to get breakfast once a week with my friend(we can call her Kayla). Kayla and I had been close friends since junior high school. We don’t really hang out anymore, but we’re still friends and we talk occasionally. Anyway, Kayla and I were both in beginning drama, but we had it at different times. She had drama with this one girl who she didn’t really like. Kayla told me that the girl wasn’t very nice. There is only one advanced drama class, and both the girl (we will call her Hannah) and I were auditioning for it, and we both got in. I had made a mental note to steer clear of this girl. If Kayla was saying she didn’t like her, she was probably bad news. Wanna know something? Hannah is now my best friend. Kayla wasn’t trying to be rude when she said what she did about Hannah. She had simply gotten an incorrect first impression of Hannah. Hannah and I ended up working on a drama project together within the first couple months of my sophomore year, and that’s when we became friends. Since knowing Hannah, I’ve heard people say a lot of things about her, and most of them aren’t very nice things. But you know something? They don’t know Hannah. They haven’t spent so many weekends hanging out with her. They haven’t ever really given her a chance. They’ve made their assumptions based on rumors or one bad conversation or a bad first impression or whatever. And when Kayla first said what she did about Hannah, I believed her. I believed Hannah was not a good person based on someone else’s opinion. But they are wrong about Hannah. That’s one reason I’ve learned not to listen to rumors. If I had remained closed minded and only listened to Kayla’s opinion, I wouldn’t have had such an amazing friend. So don’t listen to rumors. Rumors are hardly ever the full story. Hannah has since graduated, but even now, people still say bad things about her. But Hannah is not the bad things they say about her. I know because I hang out with her constantly. And when I was in the tenth grade, crying over some mean girls, Hannah was helping me calm down and telling me to change classes. And the kids who spread rumors about Hannah? They weren’t the ones being kind and helping me. Gossiping about someone says more about you than them, so keep that in mind.

In the seventh grade, I witnessed a girl get called worthless. Worthless. In calling someone worthless, you are saying they are not good enough for this world. That they will never amount to anything. That the world would be fine without them. How cruel is that? Jesus died for us so that we might know God. Jesus went to the gates of hell of us. To Jesus, we are worth dying for. Calling somebody worthless is disgusting. 

Something happened in eighth grade. There was this boy. People weren’t very nice to him, but he wasn’t very kind to them either. I remember one day I was so frustrated with him, I spoke before thinking and regretted it. I immediately apologized, and he forgave me. It didn’t matter what he had said or done to frustrate me. I never should say something rude to someone else.  From that day on, I was more careful. I was always kind to him. When he was rude to others, I would kindly express that he should take it easy. I was kind to him. He didn’t have a friend. I later learned that his life was a bit harder than I, and probably everyone else, thought. In science class, I used to see him get bullied by the other kids, and I noticed our teacher ignore it. I just kept being kind to him. Knowing his life wasn’t too easy and knowing he was bullied a lot, I didn’t want to make things worse by being rude to him. One day in science, he approached me and said,” I just want to say thank you. I’ve given you so many reasons to hate me, and you’re still so kind to me.” That meant so much to me. Over the course of weeks and months I’d been kind to him, it wasn’t until that day o realized it had impacted him. This kid and I are not, nor were we ever, friends. We were simply acquaintances who decided to be a bit kinder to each other. And whatever it was that I said or did, maybe it took time to get through to him, but it worked. 

In junior high, a girl cried in the bathroom after being called ugly and told she’d never get a boyfriend. The people who caused that girl pain probably didn’t realize how bad the words had stuck. In tenth grade, I was called a freak by someone else, and students who barely knew me talked negatively about me behind my back. The cruel words that are said can stick.

But you know what else?

So can the good ones.

A girl who didn’t want to be my friend learned to trust me when I spoke kindly to her everyday. In the eighth grade, my English teacher told me the world was a better place with me in it.

Words are powerful. Superheroes and super villains similar powers, but the way they are used effects things. I’ve seen negative words tear someone down, and positive words have helped people up. There’s a song that says,” Words can build us up. Words can break us down. Start a fire in our hearts or put it out.” 

The average person says 10,000-12,000 words a day. How many of those are loving and meaningful?
Xx

Faith❤

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Congenital Heart Disease and Me

Congenital heart disease. CHD for short. It is the number one birth defect, and I was born with it. It’s an interesting thing. CHD. There are about forty known types. However, CHDs are like snowflakes. No two are exactly the same. Someone can have the exact same CHD as another person, but the way they fight it and the way the body handles it can be totally different. CHD can cause emotions and physical issues, major or minor. I am blessed that any emotional or physical issue I’ve ever dealt with has been minor. Truth is, I see more good than bad in this disease. 

CHD patients may experience certain emotional issues. These issues can be minor or major. Some have separation anxiety. Some have trouble bonding. Some have depression. And that barely touches the surface. There are so many issues that can come with this disease, and they aren’t all emotional. Some CHD patients can’t ride rollercoasters, can’t do much exercise or sports, tire easily, and lack fine motor skills. 

Some kids grow up embarrassed of their zipper scar. Some kids are fearful of how long they have on this earth. Some kids are in the hospital constantly.

As a kid, I used to think that when I was older I wouldn’t get sick very often. I was deceived by the idea that adults were almost never sick. But you know something? Just because I become an adult, it doesn’t mean my CHD is going to go away. It doesn’t mean I’m never going to be sick again. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop seeing a cardiologist. It doesn’t mean I’ll get to eat sushi. It doesn’t mean CHD won’t be a part of my life. It’s weird for me to think that I will one day be an adult with CHD. But I don’t know why I find it weird. I’ve always had it, so I’m real not sure why I find it weird.

But…

I don’t hate having heart disease. I don’t wish it would go away. Sure, I have certain times where I don’t feel like dealing with it or with the minor or superficial issues that come with it. But honestly, it really isn’t too bad for me. I’m very blessed. My CHD could’ve been way worse. I could’ve, and some might argue that I should’ve, died before the doctors even knew what my medical issues were. But here’s the thing: I didn’t die. And I didn’t not die for a reason. I’m here. I’m alive. My heart is beating.

At the age of about ten, I found out about Camp Taylor, an amazing non profit for kids and teens with CHD. And that summer, my life changed. It’s been about eight years since that wonderful summer, and my life truly has changed. I am now a Camp Taylor mentor, something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was little. Working with kids and families who are going through similar things I went through/still go through is an amazing thing. And I love doing it. This camp is where I’ve met some of my best friends. We consider each other a second family. A mother loved her son so much that she was willing to do whatever it took to help him understand his CHD was nothing to be ashamed of, and in doing so, she helped bring together a second family who understood the pros and cons of the number one birth defect.

I have a second family through this camp. I understand my CHD because of this camp. I’ve learned to advocate for myself. I’ve become proud of my zipper scar. My life has changed.

People have seen inspiration in me. I’ve done things doctors didn’t think I would do. I am willing to test the limits. I am willing to go against the odds.

I love life. Though I sometimes do, I try not to take it for granted. I know it can go from good to bad, and bad to good in the blink of an eye. I love trying new things and going on adventures. I love thinking about things.

But don’t let this post deceive you. There’s more to me than just CHD. I love God. I love to write. Pigs are my favorite animal. I love glitter and pink and I think tutus are fun to wear(believe it or not, I am seventeen). I think pink roses are beautiful, and I constantly say the sky is pretty. I have an interest in astronomy and I love the city of Nashville. I love country music. Chocolate strawberries are good any time of day. I think love and kindness are so important. I believe it is very important to stand by your morals and beliefs. I love quotes and I love songs with a good message. Nicholas Sparks is my favorite author. I love kids. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is my favorite show. I like to perform and I like to work out. I think make up is fun to wear. I love developing my own thoughts, and I like using examples to explain what I think. I think sarcasm is fun to use, and I love deep conversations. And that’s not all. There’s so much more. And not all of it has to do with CHD.

CHD has caused me to have minor emotional issues and minor physical issues that not everyone can understand. But CHD has also been part of the reason I’ve been on this crazy, fun ride. There are tough days, but don’t let those tough days deceive you. Because I promise you, the good days outweigh the bad ones. I am more than okay. I am blessed❤

A few of my best friends and I from the mentor workshop this past weekend

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Letters (Part One)

I’m a junior now. This school year has definitely been an interesting one. My best friend(who shares your name)graduated, so it has sucked not having her at school, but we hang out like every weekend, so it’s not too bad. I had a catherization in September. After that, I was sick multiple times. Only recently have I been better.

I was the assistant director during my school’s fall production. I was going to be assistant director for the spring musical,  but I couldn’t do it for health reasons-you’d understand. 

My friend Ally and I aren’t friends anymore. If you were still here, you’d probably know that Ally and I were really close friends. Problems arose last year between Ally, me, and my friend who shares your name. After that, our friendship with Ally didn’t stand much of a chance. It’s okay though. Usually, I’m fine with it. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss her sometimes.

I turned sixteen last year. I would’ve invited you to my sweet sixteen if you’d still been around. Speaking of birthdays, your mom’s is next week. I got her a card, so I hope I got the date right too. My birthday is also next week. It’s the 23rd. I’m gonna be seventeen. It’s so hard to believe I haven’t seen you since I was twelve, even though you went to Heaven when I was fourteen. I wish I could’ve seen you between the ages of twelve and fourteen. I’m pretty excited for my birthday. I’m planning on going out to dinner with my family and my best friend who shares your name. 

It’s been almost three years. If I’m correct, it’s been 2 and 1/2 years. I bet you’re having a lot of fun in Heaven with other former heart warriors and with Jesus. Your birthday is in about three months. You would’ve been twenty five. I wear a heart locket with your picture in it every day to school. That necklace is really special to me. Some days, I really wish I could hug you. I’d love to talk to you again. When I entered high school, it would’ve been nice to have your advice. At any point in high school, your advice would’ve been appreciated. I’m almost done. Half way down with junior year. Then, senior year. Then, college. I’d like to go to Tennessee State. I’d love to live in Nashville someday.

I like to think that you’d be proud of me. I like to think about advice you might give me if you were here. Whenever I talk to people about you for the first time, I like to mention that I thought of you as a big sister. I still do. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. You had a really huge impact on my life, and I’m not sure if you know that. I could really use one of your hugs today. It’s been years since I last got to hug you. But I’ll hug you again someday. You told me “it’s not goodbye. It’s just sad you later.” And I’ve never forgotten that.

I met your parents and your brother a few months. They’re really nice people, and I hope to see them again soon. They’ve said that they see a lot of you in me. That means a lot to me. I’ve hoped to be something like you when I grow up. 

I have the text messages you sent me saved along with a few emails. I don’t know if my constant texting you as a kid annoyed you or not. But you never made me feel like I was. Thank you for that. I’m sorry if I ever did annoy you. I just loved talking to you. I trusted you very quickly when we met. I don’t think I’ve ever really said thank you for all that you did for me. Thank you. 

I still have the eye shadow palette you gave me when I was ten. I know it’s old and I shouldn’t wear it. I don’t. I just keep it because you gave it to me. It’s the shape of a flower with purple and pink colors. I also have a sign you made with my name on it. I also have a ton of memories that I hope I don’t forget.

I’m only sixteen (almost seventeen), so I won’t be having kids any time soon, but when I do, my first daughter will have your first name. She’ll grow up knowing how special her name is. 

I’m in an AP English class. I love my teacher, but it’s a difficult class. We did an in class essay today, and I’m really proud of it. I got to be really sarcastic in it. Hopefully, my teacher appreciates my humor. 

It’s been a while since we last talked. I love writing. I find it to be really fun. My favorite author is Nicholas Sparks. My favorite singers are Megan and Liz. I’ve met them twice. I think I want to be a therapist for my career. I like to think I’d be good at it. As it turns out, we both like Taylor Swift. Currently, my favorite songs by her are Begin Again, Long Live, and Ours. I don’t really know why I’m telling you this. Maybe I just like to pretend you might be reading this. There’s a lot I’d like to tell you that I won’t disclose here though.

Just like Carrie Underwood sings,” I will see you again. This is not where it ends.” I mean, she also sings ohs, but you get the point. 

Xoxo Faith❤

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Self Confidence, Self Love, and Beauty

Hey! It’s me again! If this is your first time here, then, hi, how are you? My name is Faith. Let’s be friends.

If you read my last blog post, you might know that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to gain more confidence. I’ve made progress, but I’m not really here to talk about that. I just wanted to give some tips and things that I’ve personally found helpful.

In my drama class, we have a rule. If you put someone down, you owe them two put ups. This is basically a way to prevent bullying in the classroom, but i am trying to get into the habit of doing this for myself. Anytime I catch myself being negative towards myself, I want give myself two put ups with the hopes that will help me be more positive and confident. I challenge you to do same thing. Get rid of the habit of being so hard on yourself, and start loving yourself. 

Every morning and every night, look in the mirror and say at least one kind to yourself. Start the day on a positive note, and end on a positive note too. 

If you’re feeling down, force yourself to smile for at least five seconds. It may be the fakest smile you’ve ever given. Do it anyway. I started doing this my freshmen year of high school, and I can honestly say that this alone works most of the time. No, it doesn’t solve your problems forever. But it does brighten the mood a bit. I don’t know why, but it does.

In my last post, I talked about how I don’t like reading aloud and how I walk head down at school. When the teacher needs a volunteer, I’ve been forcing myself to raise my hand and read aloud. I’m not stuttering anymore when I read aloud, and I honestly like reading aloud now. When I catch myself walking head down, I force myself to walk with my head up. I encourage you to do the same. Force yourself to do the thing you’re nervous to do. Force yourself to walk with your head held up to prevent that crown from falling. You are beautiful and if you look down, no one will see your pretty face.

As you may know if you follow me on social media, Megan and Liz are my favorite singers. Liz recently opened up for the first time about having anorexia. In her blog post that revealed the dark secret, she said that the time she spent growing her ED could’ve been spent doing something creative. I’ve thought about that sentence a lot. Now, I do not, nor have I ever, struggled with an ED. However, I took that sentence to heart. When I am stressed or feeling down, a new habit I’m trying to get into is to do something creative. Draw, write, make YouTube videos, do something artsy. It doesn’t have to look like a piece by Leonardo Da Vinci, and my YouTube videos don’t have to come out like RCLBeauty101, and my writing doesn’t have to be as good as Nicholas Sparks. My art, videos, and writing just have to be me and my imagination. I think you should try this too. Get away from stress and feeling down by doing something creative. Don’t waste time feeding dark thoughts when you could spend time with friends, making art, or making a difference.

I am getting into the habit of working out everyday, and I think that has helped me be happier too. Working out tires me out and makes me sore, but in some twisted way, it makes me feel good.

Another new thing I am trying: for a while now, I’ve been insecure about my appearance. I look like I am twelve years for starters. A new thing I’m going to be trying is to fix my personality instead of my face. Rather than work on my winged eyeliner and new hair dos, I want to work on being a kinder person, thinking better thoughts, and working harder in everything I do. Yes, I will probably still watch hair and make up tutorials and attempt to look older than twelve years old(I am sixteen). But I hope that my working on my inner appearance, my physical appearance won’t matter to me as much. 

Psalm 139:14 ” I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

God created you in His image. God does not make mistakes. You are beautiful and here for a reason.

I hope you found this post to be helpful. If you have any questions, want more advice, or want to contact me, you can do so through Tumblr, twitter, or Facebook. You can contact me anytime you want to talk. 

Twitter: @officialfaiith (yes, two i’s)

Tumblr: http://gotabadcaseofwanderlust.tumblr.com

You are loved.

Xoxo Faith❤️

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2017

It’s December 31st, the last day of 2016. Tomorrow, it will be 2017. When I look back, I had a great year. I had my sweet 16. In March, I met my favorite singers, Megan and Liz. In June, I went to Hawaii for a week. In July, I attended two Camp Taylor sessions. In August, I spent a few days at the beach with my family. In September, I had a successful catherization where I was told my heart was doing excellent. In November, I met a mother I’d been communicating with via messenger, and meeting her honestly changed my life. In November, I saw family I hadn’t seen in about two years. This year was honestly life changing. 

That’s not to say that my year was perfect because it wasn’t. However, I can truthfully say that I can count more blessings than bad things that happened this year. 

My life has changed a lot in 2016, and I know people say that every year, but I’m serious. Being a Camp Taylor mentor has forced me to take on more responsibility and be more mature, and that’s a good thing. This year, I’ve learned to advocate for myself more. Knowing that in just over a year, I’m going to be an adult, I’ve learned to work out more problems on my own rather than asking a parent for help. 

I’ve learned to be a more empathetic person. I understand that people have things going on in their lives that I know nothing about, so I’ve learned to be wayyy less judgemental. Of course, this doesn’t make it okay for anyone to treat me like dirt, but I’ve learned to be more compassionate towards the people who seem to be colder. I try my best to forgive and forget. I know people like to say “forgive but don’t forget”, but I think that’s wrong. When God forgives me, He forgets my sins, so I should forgive and forget also. This doesn’t mean that the person will stay in my life or that I’ll trust them the same. It means that I won’t hold what they did against them. It means that if I see them, I will smile at them. It means that I will not speak bad about them when they are not around.

If you were to ask my thirteen year old self what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d tell you she wanted to be a successful singer. And while I still fantasize about how cool it would be to be on the Ellen Show, I don’t want to be a singer. While being famous wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing, it’s not my goal in life. Last month, my teacher gave us a creative writing assignment. My essay took place on the beach. I wrote about my footprint being washed away by the waves. One day, I won’t be on this earth anymore. I don’t want to leave behind a legacy of fame and fortune. I want to leave behind a legacy of love and kindness and forgiveness. I want that to be my footprint on this world, and I don’t ever want the waves to wash it away. In 200 years, this world may not remember me, but if my kindness causes one to be kind to another, and that other to be kind to another, and the cycle continues, it will have reached all over the world, and in 200 years, that cycle will still continue. It sounds crazy, but think about it. It’s not unrealistic. I didn’t come into this earth for no reason, and I want to leave behind something important. When one dies, they are not remembered for the things they owned, but for the person they were.

With 2017 just hours away, I’m sure many people have resolutions that they won’t keep. I really only have one resolution that I know I will keep, and that’s to work out more. But truthfully, I do have things I hope to achieve in 2017. In 2017, I hope I figure out what college I want to go to. I hope I figure out what I want to major in. I hope I become the adult my parents raised me be. I hope I get over my fear of fire. I hope I get my driver’s license. I intend for all of these things to happen. But that’s not all I want. I want to become a better, more confident person.

In 2017, I want to be a light. I want people to see me and know that I really love God. I want people to see me and think good things of me. I want them to see me a genuinely kind, forgiving, and loving.

In 2017, I want to be more confident. I walk around school head down. When my teacher needs someone to read aloud, I don’t raise my hand. And if my teacher calls on me anyway, I stutter and don’t know what line I’m on. In drama class, I don’t volunteer to go first. In chemistry, I hesitate to ask questions because I don’t want to annoy my teacher. In school, I have a hard time talking to other people. I’m constantly insecure, and I feel judged constantly. And most people reading this probably think it’s not true because when I talk to you, I’m probably more confident than I’m making myself out to be. But chances are you’re an adult. I’ve always been able to connect well with adults. It’s not too hard for me to talk to adults. It’s kids my age I struggle with. Maybe it’s because I’m more mature than them. Maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s okay to cheat or drink or smoke or party or sneak out or break rules or be disrespectful. And I don’t say this to put my classmates down. But my mental age has always been older than my real age. What’s okay to 16 years olds my age isn’t okay to me. And it’s not so much that they’re bad people or that they’re immature for their age. It’s just that I’m more mature for my age. And maybe because of that I’ve always had trouble connecting with kids my age and that’s why my confidence is low at school. That’s what I want to work on in 2017. I want to volunteer to perform first in my drama class. I want to raise my hand when my teacher needs someone to read. I want to ask my teacher questions no matter how stupid they sound so that I can get an A in class. I want to finally stop caring what people say behind my back, to my face, or anonymously online. Because the truth is, the people saying bad things about me really don’t know me all that. And like Taylor Swift says, I am not the opinion of someone who does not know me. So you know what? 2017 will be the year I volunteer to perform first in drama. 2017 will be the year I volunteer to read aloud, and I won’t stutter. 2017 will be the year I ask my teacher questions about the material and don’t apologize. 2017 will be the year I stop caring what people who barely know me think of me. 2017 will be the year I stop apologizing for things I don’t need to apologize for. 2017 will be the year I am happily me. 

I am going to do everything I can to achieve all of my 2017 goals. 

People say 2016 wasn’t a good year, but it was. Yes, bad things happened, but good things happened too. A mother gave birth to her miracle baby. Someone had a successful heart transplant. Someone found out they don’t have cancer. Someone decided to get help for their addiction. Someone decided to start loving themselves. Someone was adopted into a loving family. A marriage that was falling apart was saved. A child got their first puppy. Someone was proposed to. Someone got married. Someone contacted an estranged family member and started a real relationship with them. Someone went through something really difficult, and got through it. Someone dedicated their life to God. Miracles happen every day. Yes, this world is getting worse, but there are still good things. I promise.

I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve. I hope you all have a lovely 2017. I hope everyone knows how special they are and how deeply loved they are. And remember, everything always seems to work out.

God bless you. God loves you❤️
Xx

Faith Sparkles<3

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Finals

I’ve done the calculations. On any of my finals, I can get a 69% and still have a decent grade. I really don’t need to stress much, yet here I am. At the moment, I care more about passing than I do learning. Don’t get me wrong. I love to learn, but at the moment, learning isn’t the goal; passing is. That is the mindset of nearly every high school student.

Just thinking about finals, I felt sick to my stomach. In my brain, I started calling myself stupid. Finals haven’t even started yet, and already I’m feeling physically sick and I am criticizing myself. 

I am in an AP English class. I am not an AP material student. I just am not. I love to over think and analyze stuff, but in English, I go blank and suddenly can’t do it. I love to write, but assign me an essay and I suddenly forget how to write.

I am in advanced algebra. I like math, and I would like to know how to do it, but I struggle a lot, and if I’m being honest, I’m just trying to pull a C in that class. 

I am in chemistry. I try hard in that class. I want to do well on tests. Really I do. But I honestly hesitate to ask my teacher any thing. It doesn’t help when your teacher warns the class not to ask a silly question. What’s a silly question?! I don’t ask questions to be funny! I ask questions so I can pass the test!

I am in Spanish II. I have nothing to complain about in that class. I’m not the smartest student, but if I try, I do well in the class.

I’m in US history. Again, nothing to complain. US History has always come easy to me as I’ve always had an interest in history and politics.

I am in advanced drama. Again, really nothing to complain. I’d do better if my confidence would grow, but it is in no way a difficult class. 

You know what sucks? When I write for fun, it comes out great. When I am enjoying the topic, I write really well. I love to analyze things. I like figuring out how things work or why they work. I like figuring out why people do what they do. I can tell you a lot about the heart and how it works, and I know a lot about CHDs.  When it comes to politics, I can back up what I believe. I love to work with kids. I love to think about theories and philosophies. I can memorize a script quickly if need be. There are so many things I am good at. But I constantly criticize myself for everything that I am not. I am so incredibly mean to myself. I can do so many things, yet I call myself stupid. 

Why do I call myself stupid?
Because in English, almost everyone seems to be able to analyze the text really well. They do so well on the practice AP exams. They write incredible essays. I don’t analyze text the way I should in class. I get 30% on the practice AP exams. I thought I was a good writer, but what if I’m not as good as I thought I was? Take a look at my essays.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because I studied for my chemistry test. I thought I knew the material. I failed the test. And that was with the curve.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because my math teacher has explained the concept multiple times and I still don’t understand it. I looked through my study guide and couldn’t remember how to do most of the problems.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because the government has told the school what I need to know in order to be smart. And I’m not completely sure I know the curriculum. 

But here’s the thing… I am smart. I may not have a 4.0 gpa, but I am not stupid. So I’m not great at math, and so I have to work a little harder in chemistry. I can still tell you a lot about history and politics. So I’m not great at writing the essay topics my English teacher assigns. Give me a creative writing topic, or better yet, no topic at all, and I’ll write an amazing paper. 

Instead of hating myself for everything I am not, I should be loving myself for everything that I am. And I know that especially around finals time, it’s so easy for us students to be mean to ourselves and think we are stupid. But we are not stupid. 

So during finals time, study, but don’t stress yourself to the point that you’re crying on the bedroom floor. Take a ten minute break every 45 minutes to an hour and drink some water. Don’t stay up half the night studying because you need sleep too. Eat breakfast-even if you just force yourself to eat a piece of toast and water. 

And remember: no matter what you get on your finals, you are not stupid. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Happy finals everyone. You are intelligent.

Xoxo

Faith Sparkles

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Catherization

A catherization is a minor surgery, in which the doctor makes an incision in either your neck or upper leg. Through this incision, they can fix certain things in the heart, or in my case, they can send a camera to the heart to take a closer look-kinda like an upclose x ray. 

 I had my third catherization(cath for short) in September of 2016. I found out in January that I would have this procedure done. According to my doctor, I need a catherization every five years. I was supposed to get it done over the summer, but I explained to my cardiologist that wouldn’t work because I had commitments to Camp Taylor, a camp for kids and teens with congenital heart disease. My doctor was understanding, as he knows how special Camp Taylor is to me, and worked around my Camp Taylor schedule. 

September came. I was only about three weeks into the new school year(I’m a junior) when my surgery happened.  The day before, my parents and I ordered pizza and watched The Jungle Book. It was a nice way to relax before my procedure.

It was the morning of my cath. I woke up and took my usual medication. My pill was swallowed with water, and I enjoyed every last drop of that small drink I took. It would be the only liquid I could have until much later. Let me tell you something. When you can’t have water, you realize how much you take it for granted. Same with food.

My parents drove me to the hospital. I had my teddy bear that I’ve had since I was not even a year old. I also had a stuffed lion, which had been given to me days before at my pre op appointment. The social worker had been talking to me, and he noticed my bear and said he’d get him a friend. He returned with the stuffed lion which I have since named Stitch because he has a little heart sown on.

We got to the hospital. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t had any food. You can’t have food or drinks before surgery, but my parents promised me Chic Fil A for when I was allowed to eat solid foods later that day.

We checked into the hospital and went to the waiting room. It didn’t take too long for them to call my name. Eventually, I was in a surgery prep room. I was given a hospital gown and had to change out of my clothes. I got onto the gurney after changing into the totally fashionable gown. My parents and I took a few pictures and had small talk as we waited for the nurses to come in.

A child life specialist entered the room. I liked her. She has the career I want. We chatted, and she was very sweet. She even gave me her email so I could ask her questions about her job since she knows I want to be a child life specialist too. Next, a nurse came in. She, too, was very kind.

The nurse gave me a… I forget what it’s called. You know the blue cap nurses wear with their scrubs? Well, I had to wear a blue cap as well. I wasn’t happy about it because I had my hair straightened, and I didn’t want to mess it up. Priorities.

The specialist asked what she could do to distract me from the needle they were about to place in my wrist. I explained I couldn’t be distracted. I have to watch the needle enter and exit my body. Still, the specialist talked to me, attempting to calm my nerves. She was asking me about theatre, as I participate in my school’s advanced drama class. 

I told the nurse she’d be better off placing the needle in my right arm as my left arm tends to be stubborn. She didn’t listen and inserted the needle into my left arm. Usually, I’m pretty okay with needles. This time was different. It was inserted into my wrist, which I am not used to, and it hurt. The specialist tried to talk me, but I didn’t respond as I was a bit freaked out about the painful needle in my wrist. The needle didn’t work in my left arm, so it was taken out and had to be placed into my right arm. The nurse was very apologetic, and I wasn’t angry that she didn’t take my advice. She put it in my right arm and was successful. 

Throughout this ordeal, I tried to be positive. On the inside, I was nervous. I didn’t want to show it though. I carried on, laughing and making jokes. At one point, tears were even welling up in my eyes(not the tears you get from laughing so hard), but I smiled and laughed through them. I’m not sure if anyone could see through it or not. If they did, they didn’t bring it up. 

The doctor came in and started up the anesthesia. That was nice. Within a minute, I had fallen asleep(we got some lovely footage of me going on and coming off the anesthesia) From there, I was taken to the operating room. I won’t go into the details of what happened because it is unnecessary and truthfully, not something I am totally comfortable talking about.

A few hours later, I woke up in the recovery room. I was heavy on the pain medications and still coming off the anesthesia, so I was starting to understand what was going on, but I was still out of it. I asked the nurses if my heart was okay. She said yes. I said yay. I said yay a lot, and the nurses thought it was cute, so on a count of three, they all said yay too. I asked where my parents were, and soon, they were brought to the room. 

I was happy to see them. I wouldn’t stop talking. I didn’t have anything important to say. I just wanted to talk. I talked about pigs, Camp Taylor, Chic Fil A, and other things. Speaking of pigs, anyone who knows me really well knows that I really want to own a pig someday, so I appreciate the fact that, even in the midst of coming off of anesthesia from a heart procedure, pigs were still on my mind. At some point, I started getting frustrated. My brain was understanding what was going on, but I was still kind of out of it, so I felt like no one understood that I was understanding. I’m not sure if that sentence made sense to you, but it’s how I felt. I started to cry, and the nurse stroked my hair in an attempt to comfort me.

Eventually, I was brought to my own hospital room. I was placed onto the bed. Once again, I won’t go into all the details because it’s not something I’m totally comfortable talking about yet. I was an emotional wreak. I was crying and felt awful. It honestly is awful when you can’t get out of bed by yourself. It’s awful when you lift your head up, and the entire room spins. It’s awful when you can’t do the simplest of things-things you were doing that morning. I was hooked up to a few machines-nothing too major-just an IV, EKG stickers, a pulse ox, and a blood pressure cuff. To someone unfamiliar with hospitals, that might sound like a lot, but I’ve way more and way worse. It still wasn’t very comfortable, but I was aware that it could be worse. And there was a restraint on my right leg so I wouldn’t move it because I wasn’t supposed to move it after the surgery. I also had a huge bandage over where the incisions had been made. 

The nurse gave me jello. I didn’t want jello, but they weren’t going to let me eat solid food until I slowly eased my way in with softer foods. They wanted to make sure my stomach did okay with the anesthesia. So I ate the jello so I could eat Chic Fil A. My parents left to get me my promised Chic Fil A. I posted onto Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat about what was going on. As many people know, my favorite singers are twin sisters Megan and Liz. On Instagram, Megan Mace(from Megan and Liz) actuallly follows my personal Instagram, which is really cool. She commented on my post, and I was so excited. She commented “Proud of your pretty girl. You’re stronger than I ever could be❤️”. After the day I’d had, it brightened my mood a bit to see her comment. It’s a pretty awesome thing to receive encouragement from someone you call your role model. I later posted a video of me going on the anesthesia, and I mentioned Megan and Liz. Both twins saw the video.

Throughout the day, I received many loving text messages from people, hoping for the best for me. It all meant a lot to me to receive so much love and encouragement from so many people.

I received tons of kind comments from so many people. One girl, who I don’t talk too often, messaged me saying that even though we don’t know each other well, she hoped I’d feel better. I replied back thanking her of course, to which she replied” drama fam sticks together.” Yes, she’s in my advanced drama class. 

I was so incredibly tired. And I don’t mean the tired you feel after a long day. I mean the tired where you’re emotionally and physically exhausted, but can’t sleep.  I ate my Chic Fil A and watched Pitch Perfect and That’s So Raven. 

All night long, nurses came in and checked my vitals. The team of nurses were so awesome. I loved them. They were so kind to me, and even though I wanted to sleep, I enjoyed whenever they came into my room. My nurses seemed happy to see me, and I was happy to see them. A couple of weeks later, they even sent me a card.

That night, I got hardly any sleep. Sleeping in a hospital is next to impossible. I used to think patients were tired because they were sick. Yes, that’s part of the reason, but the fact that a nurse enters your room at least every hour affects your sleep too. Not to mention when one of your machines starts beeping loudly for no obvious reason.

The next morning, my parents went downstairs to the hospital cafeteria for breakfast. The nurse brought me breakfast. I had only a few bites of yogurt. Hospital food isn’t terrible, but it’s not that great either.

The nurse took the bandage off my leg. Before she did, I asked if it would hurt.

“You’re gonna feel a pressure,” she answered.

“So it’s gonna hurt,” I replied. It felt like ripping off a band aid(except like ten times larger) It didn’t exactly hurt, but it didn’t feel too good.

After a few hours, I was finally allowed to go home. The nurse asked if I wanted a wheelchair, to which I declined. Though I was exhausted and still weak, I felt strong enough to walk. My parents and I walked through the endless hallway. As I walked, I realized a wheelchair may not have been such a bad idea. Why was walking so hard? Walking is so easy. I’ve been walking for so many years. The doctor makes two incisions and suddenly I can’t walk anymore? I was not happy.

When we got home, I ate some McDonald’s for lunch before taking a shower. I thought taking a shower would feel great after a long day and a half. That shower was awful. I could barely move. You know when someone walks with a limp? I was walking with one of the worst limps ever. I took my shower, and cried through it. It was so frustrating to me that everything was seeming so difficult. After my shower, I got into bed and fell asleep for a couple of hours.

I didn’t go to school for the whole week. The surgery was on a Tuesday, and we didn’t have school that Monday before. I rested in my bed, and everything gradually got better. My emotional state went back to normal as I recovered. To explain why my emotional state wasn’t exactly awesome, let’s put it this way: mix a ton of pain medication, spending a restless night in a hospital hooked up to things, not being able to do hardly anything on my own for that period of time, going through a couple of embarrassing things(that I am not willing to talk about yet) and being exhausted. With all that combined, my emotional state wasn’t too hot. I hated the feeling I had. I don’t even really know how to accurately explain how I felt. After being home for about a day though, my emotional state got better. 

The next week, I went to school with Starbucks in my hand on a Monday morning. It felt good to be back at school. As I entered the school, a senior saw me and approached me. She was in my advanced drama class. She asked me how I was(she’d seen my Instagram post) and said she was surprised our teacher didn’t say anything. For those of you who don’t understand, advanced drama is like a family, and our teacher usually would tell us such things. The girl was happy that I was back and doing well. Throughout my first week back, students (mainly from drama) asked how I was doing, and teachers were happy to see me. Though I was doing better, I still wasn’t 100%, and I was tired after my first day back. That next week, I performed in my advanced drama class’s annual Bad Talent Show to raise money for our drama program. The junior scene(the scene I was in) won first place!!!

Catching up was way harder than I anticipated it to be-partially because I got strep throat a week later and missed even more school. It took me about a month to catch up. I was fortunate to have a few teachers who were understanding of the fact that I was trying to catch up but struggling. I slowly got back to being 100%.

Exactly two weeks after my catherization, my dad took me to see Carrie Underwood in concert! We had really good seats, and I had a blast watching her perform! It was a nice way forget about school and the catherization for a while.

As for how the surgery went, I had my second catherization back in 2011. The doctor said this cath was even better than 2011(and 2011 was pretty good). My heart is healthy, and that is all thanks to God. He has continued to keep me healthy and strong. A fourth open heart surgery is NOT in my future!❤️

Me with my teddy bear; right before my catherization

Megan (of Megan and Liz) commented this when I posted about my cath on Instagram❤️


Carrie Underwood concert! This was exactly two weeks after my catherization 


My friend and I after the junior dance scene won the Bad Talent Show! This was just over two weeks after my cath!

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