70%. Approximately two-thirds. In school, it’s considered a C. For me, a 70% it’s considered an A (and I don’t mean school wise).
I was born with a complex congenital heart defect, and I had the Fontan operation. Today, I am doing amazing. My heart is in great health for my condition. My cardiologist once told me I was a model Fontan patient. He’s always happy with how my heart is doing. However, he still insists I can only do 70% of what a “normal” person can do. See, the healthiest Fontan patients still battle heart disease. The Fontan doesn’t cure it. With this specific heart condition, the healthiest Fontan patients can perform at 70% of what a normal person can do. Some Fontan patients can’t even do that much. That being said, I am very blessed to be at 70%, and I am aware of that. Still, I sometimes struggle with the idea that I cannot perform at the level of a “normal” person. I really think I can perform at such levels, and it’s weird to me to think I can’t.
This past week, I went on my very first run. It wasn’t long, and it wasn’t far. But it was the longest and farthest I’ve ever run at one time. I was so happy about it because I had never gone on a run before. It wasn’t easy, but I loved it. God gave me the strength to reach my goal on that run. I won’t say how far or how long the run was because some people may not count it as a real run. Let me tell you something: it counts.
Earlier this year, I started working out on a stationary bike. I love doing work outs on it. I’m at the point where I can do 4 miles in under thirty minutes. Yes, that means I am pushing myself – something I am technically not supposed to do, but I am determined to get a good work out and perform well.
Over the summer, I started kick boxing, and I did fine. I loved it. I only did 30 minutes classes because anything more is too much. Except for one, maybe two, minor incidents, the classes did not exhaust me. When my cardiologist found out I was kickboxing, he said I should stop, that the sport was too extreme, that I could be unknowingly causing unrepairable damage or problems that would be more difficult for me to recover from than a normal person.
Imagine you run everyday. What happens as a result? Your heart gets stronger. Your legs get stronger. Imagine you run in heels everyday. What happens as a result? The heel wears out. My heart is considered to be more like the heel. Instead of getting stronger, too much exercise can wear it out. Despite knowing this, I’ve been pushing myself and trying to reach up to the level of a “normal” person. Even though I am told otherwise, I refuse to believe the exercises I have been doing are causing more harm than good to my heart.
I believe in God. I know very well that He can keep my heart strong. I really believe that I can reach 100%. Even so, I am told to be safe and smart about what I do. I will be praying about it.
Last week, I went to the beach for a few days. Typically, after a long trip/car ride, I need at least a day or so to recover. This time, I did not have a day to recover. I came home, went to rehearsal, and the next day, I went to school. By Friday, I was exhausted. But let’s go back to the day I got home:
I went to rehearsal. It was fine. I even stayed after to work on a drama assignment with my friend and say hi to one of my teachers. After rehearsal, I came home, ate dinner, and attempted to do homework. I had English homework, drama work, and government work. For English, I had to watch a video and answer some questions. For drama, I need to watch a video to figure out how to portray my character for an assignment. For government, I needed to fill out stuff in a packet. The video for English was long, so I read the transcript instead with the intent of answering the questions the next day before class. I watched the video for drama. I did not do my government homework. I was so tired. I couldn’t do it. My body was telling me to stop. And I did.
I was in the kitchen, and I was thinking. If I’m trying to get to 100%, I should be doing my government homework. “Normal” kids come home from trips and get caught up with schoolwork. My government homework shouldn’t take too long. Why can’t I do it?
Then, I thought about everything I had done that day. It was a lot. Even for a “normal” person. I realized something. I was doing 70% of what a “normal” person could do, but I was doing 100% of what I could do. If I am tired, I need to be smart enough to slow it down and rest. I don’t have a “normal” heart. Yes, I am healthy, but my heart is not yet perfect. One day, I will be perfectly healthy. That day has just yet to come.
I get tired easier than “normal” people. Going on runs isn’t as simple for me as I would like it to be. Sometimes, getting out of bed and going to school can be a challenge. I am living with about half a heart, but I am working with 100% determination.
No, I am not going to stop pushing myself. I am going to continue to test my limits. Don’t worry though. I’ll be smart, and I’ll be safe. I know my limits, and even while pushing them, I do know when I should stop. I’ll know when to stop. Right now, 70% is my 100%, and that’s okay.
But someday, my 100% will be the same as a “normal” person’s 100%.❤️
*featured selfie was taken after my first run*