Miracle Monday: If You Could See My Scars

31 is an important number for me.  It’s not that I was born on a 31st day of the month or that I’m 31 – I’ve passed that age a while ago.

My parents and siblings took me to church at 31 days old to show off the new baby. In the middle of the service I let out this strange cry. My mother looked down at me, and I had turned blue (Cyanotic - turning blue due to lack of oxygen).
An ambulance raced me to the hospital, where doctors and nurses were unable to properly diagnose or treat me (no fancy MRIs back then).  “We think she only has ½ a heart, and will probably not make it through the night”.

Well, I did make it through the night…and the next night…for a total of 90 nights.
Have I told you why 31 is significant?  Back in the day (1969) health insurance coverage didn’t kick in for a baby until 30 days.  So, because all of this began on day 31 – It was covered. There’s no way that my parents would have been able to financially recover from the procedures and hospital stays without being bankrupt. From the very beginning God has been Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Provides).
Scar # 1:  During those 90 days in Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital they put a tube in my tiny body – It’s called Catherization, where they injected a dye so doctors could see what was going on.

Without throwing you multiple medical terms found in the New England Journal of Medicine -- I have 2 holes in between the chambers of my heart, and the left side of my heart is too small to get the blood to the lungs for oxygen.  It’s interesting to realize that my body has educated numerous doctors, surgeons and nurses over the years.

 I was sent me home with a poor prognosis.  And yet, I lived.

Scar # 2:  At 18 months I underwent my first open-heart surgery.  This particular operation was created by a “rock-star” surgeon, who pioneered this procedure, and my case/operation is in medical school text books today.

I was very small – always in the lowest percentile in height and weight – and physically weak.  I was still the color blue too, due to limited oxygen.  I really believe that I was the inspiration for Smurfette (the only girl Smurf).  Because of my blue color and “odd” look, I was quite the outcast at school.  I had very few friends, I couldn’t be in sports, I couldn’t even ride a bike.  And yet, much to the shock of doctors and my family, I lived – I survived.

Scar # 3:  At 14 years old I underwent a newly created surgery called, “Glenn”.  During this surgery, re-routing of a large vein takes deoxygenated blood from the upper body directly to the lungs without passing through the heart.  Not only did I survive, but I thrived beyond expectation.

The Scar you can’t see:  I graduated high school and went off to college at 19, and started ignoring my health.  Like many typical teenagers away from mom & dad for the first time, I began partying, experimenting with drugs like pot, and became promiscuous. I got pregnant.  “There was no way I can have this baby”, I thought.  Not just because of my heart, but I didn’t want to be an outcast again.

My boyfriend and I believed the lie that abortion would “solve” this problem.  At the abortion clinic, I told them “I have a serious heart condition”.
Their response, “You’ll need anesthesia and IV antibiotic, and it will cost extra”.

I had the abortion.  I may have survived physically, but went off the rails emotionally until I found hope and healing 15 years later.  That, dear friends, is a whole other story.

I was nearly 30 when I started to take my health serious again.  From the many conversations, consultations and operations, I never thought I’d live past 30. But I did live.

Scar #4:  When I was 38 years old, I was given a choice: Continue to let my heart decline or have another surgery called, “Fontan”.  Even though I was potentially too old for this surgery, it would enhance my quality of life for the remaining years.  This was also part 2 of surgery #2.

During this surgery, the re-routing of another large vein takes the deoxygenated blood from the lower body directly to the lungs without passing through the heart.
I survived and thrived way beyond human expectation.  I'm different on the inside, totally re-routed.

Last year during COVID, I had to get a new cardiologist.  She said, “I know you from somewhere”.  
Turns out, during her Residency at Children’s Hospital Philadelphia, she studied my case and surgery. Then she presented my case to the other medical students. She was glad to update those colleagues this year that not only did I survive, I now thrive.

At 52, I am a medical miracle.  I have been given a new life, and it not only changed my physical life, but God has given me a new heart to love and serve Him.

If you remember nothing else….By the grace of God, I have not only survived, I THRIVE…..And I have the scars to prove it.

My name is Wendy Giancola, and this is just one of my miracle stories.

**Wendy is the Director of Pregnancy Loss Ministry at the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center in Washington, DC and is the author of the book, “Transforming Your Story: A Path to Healing after Abortion” available at:  www.TransformingYourStory.org or on Amazon**

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