Teen and Young Adults with Congenital Heart Defect Rebellion:
Tattoos, Piercings and Alcohol
Kaitlin Hutchinson is 27 years old and lives in Warner Robins, GA with her fiancé. She was born with pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum. At 2 days old, she had surgery to repair the valve and a chest tube inserted. At four years old, she had a Blalock-Taussig shunt done to relieve her cyanosis (blueness). This procedure has actually prevented her from needing more open-heart surgery.
Now, Kaitlin rarely notices she even has a heart problem, except when she exercises. She enjoys movies, reading, cooking, hanging out with her friends, and she loves living with her fiancé and their two pet rats. Kaitlin has four tattoos: one on her right shoulder, one on her right ankle, one on her stomach, and one on her lip inside her mouth. Her ears are pierced and gauged to 7/8, and she has one facial piercing. Although Katitlin had doctors tell her she shouldn’t have tattoos or piercings, she has never had a problem, and plans on getting many more tattoos!
Joanne was born in London in 1972. At 4 years of age, while visiting her baby brother in the hospital while he recovered from surgery for tetralogy of Fallot, she was spotted by a nurse, who was concerned about her colour. Tests led to a diagnosis of pulmonary atresia and a large ventricular septal defect (or VSD). Joanne had 2 Waterston shunts but never had her VSD repaired.
In Joanne’s teen years and early 20s, she behaved like her peers – drinking, smoking, and partying. She didn’t think about her heart unless she had a check-up and then she was reminded she shouldn’t be doing those things.
Otherwise, she had no idea what she was doing was bad for her. She figured since everyone else was able to do those things, she could, too.
It wasn’t until Joanne’s brother died in 1992 of complication from his congenital heart defect that Joanne stopped and completely reversed her life.
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