May 2, 2011

Guest Blogger {a note from my heart...by Ashley Drury}

Good morning! I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Ashley
Here she is with her beautiful family



Ashley has recnetly dedicated her life to giving back and helping others
{something I absolutely admire about her}
and I wanted to help out in any way possible.

You can normally find her blogging over here,
about life, giving back and some really great causes.
Be sure to head on over and check it out.
{but not before you read why she's here today}

Ashley's got some great projects in the near feature,
and I wanted her to tell you about them.

And so, here she is! 

Born with Tetralogy of Fallot (a congenital heart defect) in 1985, I
was a healthy 8 pounds and 14 ounces. It wasn’t until I was born that
the doctors realized I had a heart condition.

It was known that I would be having my first open heart surgery as a
baby (the doctors thought somewhere around one year old would be the
time) ... however, they ended up scheduling the surgery for me a
little bit earlier.

At 8 months old I had my first open heart surgery. This surgery was to
put a patch over the hole in my heart. If you aren’t familiar with
Tetralogy of Fallot, here is the definition:

A. Pulmonary Stenosis: A narrowing of the right ventricular outflow
tract and can occur at the pulmonary valve (valvular stenosis) or just
below the pulmonary valve (infundibular stenosis).

B. Overriding Aorta : An aortic valve with bi -ventricular connection,
that is, it is situated above the ventricular septal defect and
connected to both the right and the left ventricle.

C. Ventricular Septal Defect: A hole between the two bottom chambers
(ventricles) of the heart.

Right Ventricular Hypertrophy: The right ventricle is more muscular
than normal, causing a characteristic boot-shaped (coeur-en-sabot)
appearance as seen by chest X-ray. Due to the misarrangement of the
external ventricular septum, the right ventricular wall increases in
size to deal with the increased obstruction to the right outflow
tract.

My first surgery was at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland,
Oregon and it was very successful. Growing up as a child, I always
felt very normal (of course my scar was a constant reminder.) That and
when my friends would point to my scar and ask what it was ... I would
always reply “I was born with a hole in my heart,” even through I
never really understand what happened. I was very fortunate to never
have to take medication for my condition, and with the exception of
never being able to run ... I could pretty much do anything.

I grew up as a dancer. I believe this kept my heart strong. Never once
did I feel that I was different or unable to keep up.

From the time I was a baby, I have had yearly checkups with my
cardiologist. Everything always looked great. They always would say,
“See you in a year,” and send me off.

It was always known that I would be having another surgery at some
point in my life (patients with my condition usually have a few
surgeries in their lifetime) we just didn’t know when the time would
be.

I had my first child in December of 2009. Sweet little Isabella was
born very healthy and just perfect. My pregnancy was great, I didn’t
have any complications. Other than my doctor being a high risk doctor
during my pregnancy, I was treated pretty much as a normal patient.

In August of 2010 I had a check up with my cardiologist , Dr. Brian
Morrison. This appointment was like my many other appointments, except
when he got a very serious look and said, “There are some signs
pointing to a surgery soon for you.” I think I was in shock to hear
this. I cried. I cried really hard. He told me he was sending me to
OHSU in Portland, Oregon for a cardiac MRI and consultation. I was
speechless. I didn’t say much. I left the appointment confused and
scared. I called my mom as soon as I got in the car ... and I bawled
my eyes out. My mom tried to reassure me that everything would be okay
and that I was so healthy. She had guessed my surgery wouldn’t be for
another couple years, at least.

My MRI was scheduled for November of 2010. We headed up to Portland,
hoping for the best and expecting the worst, just in case. I had my
MRI, followed by my consultation the next day. I had my mom, my
fiance’ and my daughter in the room with me. I had doctors in and out
of the room during that consultation, listening to my heart, asking
about my history, talking about my MRI, etc. And finally the one
doctor looked at me and said, “We agree with Dr. Morrison that you
need a surgery soon.” I said okay and asked when. He looked at me and
said,”we think three to six months is when you need to schedule your
surgery.” I don’t remember everything that went through my head. I
remember being in complete shock (3 to 6 months was so soon) and just
crying. They, of course, tried to reassure me ... and I just tried to
stay as strong as I could.

My surgery was scheduled for February 9th, 2011. The surgery would be
for a pulmonary valve replacement. Finding out I would be having
surgery changed my life for the best. I like to think of it, almost as
a “rebirth.” It not only opened my eyes, but it opened my heart. It
taught me to really appreciate what’s important in life and never take
anything for granted. It taught me to have a strong faith and to live
each day to the fullest. And lastly, it gave me this immediate urge to
just want to help others with congenital heart disease, (especially
children.)

I held my first fundraiser and with the help of others in the
community, I was able to raise enough money to donate 50 stuffed
animals to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. It was an awesome
experience for me. I donated all the stuffed animals the day before my
surgery.

My recent surgery, again was done at Doernbecher, in Portland, Oregon.
It was successful. It was the hardest thing I have EVER done in my
life. But ... I am SO much stronger today because of it. I am now
fully recovered from surgery and living life normal. I am getting
married in July to my wonderful fiance’ ... life goes on!



I am here today, not only with a battle wound (my scar) but a story,
and a reason for wanting to help others. I am thankful for this
experience because it has taught me so much. If you want to read more
about my journey with my recent surgery, you can go to this link.

I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t think of anything else to do
... other than help children with my condition and other congenital
heart defects. I think when you go through something like my recent
experience, it changes your whole outlook on life. It makes you want
to be a better person and it teaches you to “really put your heart out
there.”

Having a child of my own changes everything as well. Sometimes I just
look at her and want to cry (happy tears) because I am so thankful for
her perfect health. I think about my mom and everything she went
through with me as a child, it’s something I can’t even imagine.
Before my last surgery, my mom gave me a hug and a kiss and said, “If
I could do this for you, I would.” I think about that every day. Even
though having surgery was so hard, I am so thankful it was me and not
my daughter.

I see all of these families with children with congenital heart
defects and I think, “If I can help make a difference in these lives,
why wouldn’t I do that?” So from this point on ... that is my goal. To
make a difference, to help others, and to give back.

A friend that I grew up with now has a son with a heart condition. He
will be having his 5th surgery next month (he is just 5 years old.)
His surgeries have been at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital as well. I
had a dream, and I asked for some help. With help from my friend, we
are working on an amazing project. I have been in contact with
Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to get this project going. I am unable
to give out any details yet, but I know this is going to be big!

We are calling this project, Love and Ladybugs “Lucky Little Hearts.”
We are asking you to stay updated with us and our blogs:
Ashley Drury

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this project, please
contact me at: ashleyadrury@gmail.com


Once we have all the details confirmed, we will be making an
announcement about our project. Please follow my blog and stay updated
with my story, my project and my everyday life.

I am a better woman, mother, lover, daughter, sister, friend and all
of the above because of my recent experience ... from the bottom of my
heart, thank you everyone for all of your love and support.

Thank you, Alex, for sharing my story.
xoxo ashley

Ashley, your story is not only inspiring,
it's motivating.

Thank you for sharing!
I can't wait for more details!


3 comments:

CaseyWiegand said...

Wow she is beautiful, inside & out

Ashley Drury said...

Thank you for doing this for me, Alex!!!!!

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