Meet Josh Andrews. He’s 19 and has a heart condition, and he grew up hearing all about what he couldn’t and shouldn’t do.
I’ve got what’s known as ‘double outlet right ventricle’. This means there’s a hole between the two ventricle chambers of my heart, so my blood can’t get all of the oxygen it needs.
My condition makes me look pale, and I feel tired and breathless. I didn’t think I’d ever go on a roller coaster. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to work fulltime.
I was three months old when they found out what was wrong. Since then I’ve had four operations.
My third operation was open heart surgery. I was 12 by then and nervous because I was that much older. A month after that op, they said I had to come back in. It hadn’t worked. It took another round of surgery to fix the problem.
I’d spent nearly two months in hospital and missed nearly half a year’s worth of school.
Making up for lost time
It was weird when I went back. People had made new friends and they treated me differently. They were tip-toeing around trying to avoid conversations about what had happened.
One of my nurses told me about the British Heart Foundation’s [email protected] club for teenagers with heart conditions. It took a year for me to pluck up the courage to go to my first event. But I was glad I did.
I’d always hated talking about my heart condition. But sometimes you need to talk, especially if you’re not feeling well or you feel down that you’re missing out. Through BHF I met people I could relate to.
I’ve met adults with heart conditions too. They’re successful; they go to work and drive around just like normal people. It’s made me see what I can be too.
I’m studying film-making at Leeds Metropolitan University and I want to direct TV dramas. And I’ve been on the rollercoasters in Florida. Twice!
I’m a lot more open about my heart condition now. It will always be there. But it doesn’t hold me back anymore.