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Lleyton's Story

“What if?”

Written by Lleyton, 8 September 2015  |  Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) 

What would my life be like if I never had this condition? Well, I don't know but I'm sure it would be different. Where would I be? Who would I be? These questions have always gone through my head but it's an answer I'll never find.

Having four surgeries by the age of 16 is pretty big but, for me, it's just how life is. I really started learning about my condition when I was around 14 years old. Understanding the concept and what I had to go though was surprising for me. What really hit me though was when the doctor said: "You’re not allowed to play contact sport." I guess that's why I played netball growing up.

I've always wondered what it would be like to play footy, to grow up like any other Australian boys. Would I be a different kid? Where would I end up? I got a glimpse at this last year when I had a chance to play footy and it's a memory that will last a lifetime. Having 24 boys sprinting up to you saying: “you did it” and supporting you, well, it warms me up just remembering the moment and always puts a smile on my face.

I look around my room and see photos of the times I want to remember. If I didn't have a heart condition would these photos be different? I look around at all these faces that have lit up my world over the years. I consider myself a "floater" a boy that doesn't have a group and is able to talk to everyone. I won't lie I love it! It's great being able to talk to everyone and have jokes. What sucks and what I've realised tough is when I'm with some friends or at a party I always lie in the middle and wonder to myself "what if". To me those two words have impact.

I have many situations where I ask that question and if there's anything I could have, or should have done that may have made life different.

But in reality, having this condition has made me who I am. I don't think I would be that ‘kind hearted boy’ making sure everyone was okay if I never had this condition. So, to me it's made me better and a lot stronger. Sometimes, when bad things have come up I would go into my room and think: “wow it's because of my heart” - I don't know why but I just do. But while I might sometimes feel like I’m ‘weaker’ than others I know that’s not really the case because in all honesty I'm most likely stronger than my peers. Heart kids don’t have the option of being weak, we are strong and brave. The words: “give up" just aren't in our system! We love to fight and we’re proud of who we are. So, while I don’t have all the answers to the “what ifs” and “whys” I do know that the life I have is amazing and I wouldn't change it for the world. To those reading this who may still be quite nervous about their condition - go out and live!

No one ever knows what will happen in life. You may walk out that door and it could be the start of a new chapter! I know I've had a couple of those encounters and they just make you better. Stay true to yourself and be honest. Because I feel if you are honest to yourself life will give great things to you.

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Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Henry Ford