Monday, May 16, 2011

A Picture That Paints a Thousand Words

Nels Matson, left, and my son, William, pull down the collars of their shirts
and show each other their scars from open-heart surgery. They both have
versions of partial anomalous pulmonary venous return. Nels' heart was
repaired when he was 4; William when he was 2.

At school tomorrow, William is supposed to bring pictures of himself and tell his class about them. Do you know what pictures he wanted to bring? The ones that tell his heart story. Wow! Lately, especially, he's been so reluctant to tell people about his heart, even hiding his scar. 

But I think the Broken Hearts' May Day Picnic helped him get past that. He got to see dozens of other kids, some with much more noticeable scars than his own, running around bare-chested, oblivious and proud of their bodies. At first, he wouldn't take off his T-shirt to go down the slide. Later, I couldn't get him to put his shirt back on.

I think one of the biggest highlights, though, was meeting Nels Matson (athletes4heart). I had tried all day to get William to talk to Nels but he was having nothing to do with it. Toward the end of the day when the crowds had thinned and William had pulled himself up to a table, munching on left over chips, Nels slyly sat at the table at William's height and started talking to him about William's three beloved bicycles. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Nels and William have similar heart defects -- different versions of partial anomalous pulmonary venous return. While heart defects aren't rare, this particular one is rare, and William's version (scimitar syndrome) is even rarer. So Nels was talking to William about his surgery and told William that he had had surgery, too, and that they both had scars. And with that ... they pulled their collars down and showed each other their scars! 

This picture paints a thousand words!
Thank you, Nels, for helping my son see he's not alone.

1 comment:

  1. Aww this is wonderful ... these stories make my day as an adult survivor of CHD ... we all want your children to feel the way most of us never go to ... like we were part of a family full of CHDers and our scars could be compared and talked about with worry of judgements ... thank goodness for Nels ... this is going to be a day your son won't forget!!!