I was diagnosed with an enlarged heart then later received a heart transplant. And I remember going back to middle school for the first time after being home schooled for the 6th and 7th grade. It was scary seeing the big campus and giant courtyard without a playground in sight and the students walking everywhere, some walking alone and others with their group of friends. I was a little nervous already at the thought of going back to public school, but when I saw all of it I instantly felt even more nervous, bordering on social anxiety. I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, watching and judging me as if I they knew who I was already.

My first period class was my one of my favorite subjects, Science. Each of my teachers were required to tell the whole class my name and that I was a heart transplant patient. I thought there would be some people who would be curious and wanna know some more. I’m usually a friendly person, but I was so nervous at the time I really hoped no one would come to me with questions or wanting to know what happened. And to my relief no one did throughout that period and some of my nervousness settled down.

I even reconnected with an old friend from elementary school and told him about everything I had gone through. After talking with him and going through the same process in my next class period, I made another friend who also had health problems. We got to chatting right away as we did our classwork and all of the worries and concerns I had began to disappear.

After telling such a long story so many times, you will get tired and annoyed of everyone asking you the same thing all the time. Keep in mind you don’t have to tell everyone who asks you. It’s alright to say no or I’m not comfortable with telling you or, simply I don’t want to talk about it. But what if you want to tell someone, but you don’t feel like telling the whole story? You can tell a short version explaining the basic details in simple terms without the big medical words — personally that’s what I do!

Today I tell both shortened and non-shortened versions with pride because it’s not like I wanted my heart problems to happen, but I also can’t change it. What I can do, though, is be thankful for having the strength to undergo everything, and live a good life for not only myself but for the donor I received my heart from. A lot of people wouldn’t have been able to survive what I have been through, especially at such a young age. You don’t have to feel ashamed, either! If you’re a teen like I am now or if you’re a kid like I was then, I encourage you to tell however much or however little of your story you choose to tell with pride!

CJSheppard
My name is Charis "Cj" Sheppard and I'm a 17 year old heart transplant patient. I'm a friendly guy that loves animals, going on adventures and making music!