Tuesday, February 10, 2009


There's a great new blog out there by Teri Martin, an adult CHD survivor... Inspiring Hearts. Teri's personal blog, Finding Inspiration Every Day has often been a source of solace for me during stressful work days - she lists simple things she loves, reasons to be happy, tidbits of her life. And her art work is amazing. She says her art is a direct result of her CHD - while other children played sports that were not an option for her, she pursued art - and is thankful for her gift. (Some of her art is featured in this post - more can be found on her Etsy site!)

Here's Teri's story, and an introduction to the wonderful things she's doing to spread awareness, create cohesion in the CHD community between the generations of survivors and to infuse others with hope, creativity and a passion for life.

Inspiring Hearts
by Teri Martin

If I had to pick a word that summed up my life's motivation, it would be inspiration. I was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome PA/IVS with moderate TA. Being one of the oldest survivors of this complex disease, I never really knew many people with CHD growing up. So I focused on what inspired me to get through a lot of the hard times as a child and teenager. I could not go play on the playground when it was too cold or too hot, let alone try a sport. So I spent hours creating art and writing. Even as a kid, every time I was depressed I would bury myself into things that inspired me to be something more. My mother would probably say I had a very active imagination.

It wasn't until college where I really met people like me who had CHD. Still, back in college information was scarce, what I could find on the internet didn't make much sense unless you went to medical school. It wasn't until years after I graduated, that I learned about CHD associations like the ACHA. I was a bit hesitant to join, but I eventually I did, when I thought it was best to seek advice from those who could understand me and know what I have been through. So this past May, I went to my first conference, mostly to learn the information that was to be presented to us, but I walked away from the conference with much different objective. I wanted to learn my new friend's stories. The best times I had at the conference where the times we just sat down and shared our lives with each other.

I left the conference inspired to help others. When I returned home I kept thinking that there wasn't any place where we could really share what we have been through. The ACHA message board is great, but was more geared to talking about medical issues which is a great thing, when you want advice, need to vent your frustrations, or just want a friend to listen to you.

While I was at the conference some mothers were there who had young children and they asked us so many questions. When I got home I would have daily emails from parents, and teenagers asking me a lot of the same questions I was asked at the conference. So, as 2009 approached, I drew from something I already loved to do and had been doing for a few years already; I started another blog.

I started off by asking different parents CHD groups to send me questions, I also asked my fellow survivors what questions they think are important to answer. After I had gathered my question I went to my fellow ACHA'ers and asked them to volunteer to answer these questions and tell their stories. The response was overwhelming! Some of these questions are really hard to answer so it takes time, but each week I have gotten back at least one person responses, and I hope to have more in the months to come.

So in January I took my favorite word inspiration and named my blog "Inspiring Hearts," Living with Congenital Heart Disease: These are Our Stories. I want this blog to be a place where adults with Congenital Heart Disease are able to give hope to future generation of survivors, but also inspire each other to live life even in the face of such challenges.

Thank you, Teri, for all you are doing for the CHD community, your peers and the generations of survivors to come. You are, truly, an inspiration!

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