Today's post is by Kimberly Goodloe of Atlanta, a 46-year-old woman who is using her experience overcoming a faulty heart to help cardiac patients as a volunteer.
I was born with an abnormal heart valve. A replacement valve and a pacemaker – the result of three surgeries a few years ago – help keep me alive.
My faith in God and support from my husband, family, pastor, medical staff, friends and others in my life continue to play a major role in the healing process. I know that God loves me and has promised never to leave me alone.
Acceptance is crucial during the recovery stage. Not living in denial, but accepting the challenges: coping with breathing issues on a daily basis, living with a pacemaker, taking medication for the rest of my life, dealing with the discomfort in my chest.
After my third surgery, in 2010, a friend asked me, “What do you plan to do with your second chance at life?” By that point, I had volunteered for more than a decade for various nonprofit groups throughout the metro Atlanta area, including Hands On Atlanta.
So, I made a decision to give back to the community again by becoming a volunteer for the American Heart Association. I share my story of survival – my high and low moments – plus provide heart health tips at health fairs and networking events throughout the community. I also created a website, health blog and video to provide a format for cardiac patients and their families to follow my heart journey and provide encouragement.
I can personally connect with cardiac patients and their families because I’m a survivor (four years, four months), and they need to see and hear from a person who can relate to their health condition. With this gift of life, I’m committed to making a difference in the community.