The procedure I signed up for was to close the PFO (patent foramen ovale) they had recently found in my heart which, along with birth control, they believed may have contributed to my having a stroke at age 18. They were going to patch the PFO/small hole between the two chambers of my heart with a CardioSEAL, or “patch” as they referred to it. My PFO was found through a terrible test called TEE which stands for a “trans esophogal echocardiogram”.
As far as what that test is like, I’ll just say that the gag reflex is real, and prolonged in certain situations. I think having that test done a few times is the closest I have come to what I imagine actual torture feels like.
I remember feeling like everything was fine, yet knowing that I might be at risk for a stroke was not a fun place to be, I really didn’t care to experience losing the use of half of my body again as I had a year an a half earlier during my freshman year at Parsons School of Design.
I did this because the doctors explained it would bring my risk of stroke back down to that of a normal 20 year old, which was too appealing to turn down. Obviously I had no idea what I was really signing up for, or what it was going to be like having heart surgery about a week after 9/11.
When I see this picture now, it feels very innocent, yet knowing in the way it captures the force of moving forward without knowing exactly what that would lead to, just knowing that staying still wasn’t the thing to do.