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Back to School Transitions with Abby

As the summer starts to come to an end, and we will discuss how CHD families prepare for going back to school. This week we have a story from Abby Hack, an adult CHD warrior, who is in her final years of college!

When I was first diagnosed with a heart condition that required me to have a pacemaker, I was 14. I had just started freshman year of high school and still relied on my parents for almost everything medical. They still went to all my doctors appointments and for the most part, did all of the talking. Now I am 20 and am coming upon my sixth year with a pacemaker.

As I got further along in high school, I began to take a more active role in my own health. I started talking more at doctor’s appointments, scheduling my own remote pacemaker readings, and even going to my primary care physician on my own for my annual checkup. At the time, these accomplishments felt huge; I felt as if I was not reliant on my parents about my own health.

Leaving for college taught me that this wasn’t completely the case. It’s not until you aren’t able to see your parents everyday that you realize how many things you need them for. In regards to my health, I needed my mom to remind me when I needed to make appointments or do remote readings or even convince me that my cold was actually bad and I needed to go to the health clinic (which explains why I’ve had two bronchitis diagnoses so far!). In a broader sense, I needed my parents to tell me how to cook rice or send me winter clothes because I didn’t account for the cold weather.

This summer, I lived in an apartment on my own for the first time to take classes. This came with its own new things to ask for help about such as more cooking, how to ship packages, or how to apply and interview for a job. Taking it back to my health, I still need my parents for certain things and I am fortunate that they always seem to have the right answer but often, I feel that young adults think something like heading off to college means you are fully an adult now. If that it what happened to you, that is awesome. But if you still feel like you are needing your parents help for a variety of things that is okay too. In two weeks, I will be starting my 3 year of college and will officially be an “upperclassmen”. Every year, it gets easier and easier to transition to college and away from the guidance of my parents but I know that I will still call them sometime this semester asking for their advice. And that is the one thing that I wish for someone entering college to remember: don’t be afraid to keep asking your parents for help. Even if you don’t need help, don’t forget to call them every once in a while. You never know when they will give you the exact piece of encouragement you have been needing for that week or remind you to create an appointment with your cardiologist for the third time (sorry mom).

Abby Hack is a junior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is studying Global Studies and hopes to one day go into human rights law. She loves to run and stay generally active in her life.  She lives in Chicago and has really enjoyed being a part of the cardiac community there.

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