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  • Writer's pictureTina Marie

Who I Lean on for Support: My Sons

By Tina Marie Marsden - February 17, 2023

I have been on a journey to overcome heart failure for over 20 years now. I was diagnosed with pregnancy-induced heart failure (also known as PPCM) at the age of 28. Little did I know my biggest supporter would become my youngest son; or what I have heard many women refer to as their heart baby.

Honestly, that is one of the last things I would have wanted for either one of my sons. Not only have they both been my supporters but also my caregivers in many ways. At diagnosis, I was a single mother with two sons with an 8-year age difference. I am grateful that my health circumstances did not prevent them both from excelling and living their own lives. That also meant when my oldest son left for college my youngest son was alone with me at the age of 10. That was our reality; but why does writing that now sound like a bad thing?

Support from my son

My friends joke with me that I would call his name so much when I was on the phone with them. My son and I actually laugh about it now; because I did. He tells me, "I know you needed my help so I know you had to call me."

What did I call him for? Just about everything! To bring me meds, replacement batteries for my LVAD; or one of his famous late-night grilled cheese sandwiches.

Unfortunately, some of those calls were not pleasant. I used to suffer from extremely painful muscle spasms, leg cramps, and charlie horses. These came as a result of the diuretic pills I took due to fluid retention caused by my heart failure.

There were so many times that I would wake up around 2 or 3 in the morning in severe pain. I would have to get up and try to walk it out or get an ice pack. I remember my son would have to wake up in the middle of the night, hold my LVAD batteries and controller; and walk the floor with me because I was in so much pain (ugh, and he would have to go to high school those mornings). Most times I was crying, and saying this cannot be our story. It was our story, and he was right there by my side. It is just amazing to think about all the ways he has supported me throughout his childhood.

Giving support and understanding

I have found myself apologizing to my sons that this had to be part of their journey. Thankfully, they both understand that my heart failure diagnosis was completely out of our control. My family and friends comment that the journey has made us all so much stronger.

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