My heart health story started from birth. My first trip to the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne took place when I was 6 months old and continued on for 18 years. I grew up in a small country town called Sale which is 200 kilometres away from Melbourne and back then, the drive would take 3 hours on a good day.
For most of these years of traveling backwards and forwards, I knew no-one else in my age bracket who was having a similar journey. I’ve outlined briefly in a previous blog about 2 friendships I made when I was about 15 or 16, but effectively, I was alone in this trip called life. Communicating wasn’t as instant back then as it is today.
Last year, I attended a forum held by the Heart Foundation here in Melbourne. The purpose of the forum was information sharing, but it’s my understanding that the real benefit of the forum was “to meet people like me”.
You’ll laugh because I was at a forum that was directed towards younger people. I was 44 at the time of the forum, but I went along and I was stunned at what happened.
You see, I met people like me. I heard stories from others who have had amazing experiences with close calls with death, inspiring stories of people who were healthy all their life until one day their life was turned upside down and I was in a position to share my stories and experiences with others. I hope I made a positive impact.
What I found from this experience was that I never knew that I needed to connect with others who knew what I was talking about. I didn’t know that there was such power in this connection. And I didn’t know that my story might help others know that they are not alone.
One of the outcomes from the forum was that we need that connection. If you’re between the ages of 18 and 40 and you end up in a cardiac ward in any hospital around the world, chances are that you will be surrounded by people decades older than you. Whilst I’m sure that there are plenty of friendships formed between the age groups, connecting with someone who has things in common with your experience, are often down to what stage of life you’re at and these stages generally align within roughly similar age groups.
I’m excited to be a part of the Heart Foundation volunteer team here in Melbourne. The Heart Foundation has identified the need for support for younger people and are creating support material, a Facebook page primarily for younger people and a new forum is being planned.
If you know someone who has heart disease and they fit into the age bracket of 18-40 (ish), can you please let them know that the Heart Foundation in Melbourne is actively supporting them? It would be great if you could show them to the Facebook page. And I’m always free for a chat, so you can send anyone my way if they need a chat or some support.
Here’s the link to the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/753052778203450/
And below is the link to my blog that introduces you to my friends Ben and Katie: http://thatheartguy.com.au/episode-26/
With hearty thanks for reading,
That Heart Guy
P.S. The image on this blog is of me. I was cute once