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Katlyn: HLHS, 24

Katlyn Poliszczuk, HLHS, 24, Fontan, Glenn, Norwood, Cleveland Clinic, depression, anxiety, ptsd, CHD Legacy, chdlegacy

My name is Katlyn Marie Poliszczuk, I am 24 years old and I was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Not knowing at first of the heart condition, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio diagnosed me at 2 months old. Unable to perform all three open heart surgeries, Norwood, Glenn, and Fontan, my parents decided to transfer me to the Cleveland Clinic. Since the major three surgeries, I have had catheterizations.

The last major heart surgery, was performed in 2014, when I had an ICD (implantable cardioverter defibrillator) implanted due to ventricular tachycardia. Overall from the ICD surgery, it took a year or two, but I can finally say that I recovered very nicely. Throughout the years, my energy level has stayed the same. Some days, I want to nap more then usual and other days, I completely forget to go to bed. Medications have stayed the same for the past five years; warfarin, topiramate, sotalol, 81 mg of Aspirin and Norethindrone.

Like most humans, I suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD, but the struggle that I am facing now would be recovering from a miscarriage. The week of Christmas, 2018, my boyfriend and I went for our second ultrasound appointment and found out that the baby’s heartbeat stopped. 9 weeks pregnant and our baby was taken away, just like that.

We were completely heartbroken, devastated and so confused as to why this had happened. Of course, no one has the right answers as to why a woman has a miscarriage, it just unfortunately and unexpectedly happens. Six days later, on New Years Eve, I had a D & C and hated life more then ever. Although I would give anything to be a mother, I guess right now is just not the right time. I do hope that someday my boyfriend, hopefully then husband, and I will have a “rainbow” baby in the near future.

However, if it turns out to be another miscarriage, adoption will be looked into. During this horrible life changing event, my boyfriend and I had each other to lean on. I had three good friends who stuck by my side. And the rest just told me to “get over it” and “move on because no one cared.”

Family wise, his family was more supportive than mine. The day I told my parents about the miscarriage, was probably the easiest conversation that I could ever have with them versus he telling his parents, when I hurt more for them then myself. Overall, I think it is safe to say, that we are doing okay from this horrible nightmare. Yes, it sucks. But God has a plan, he always does. Now; when speaking about depression, a lot of heart condition humans will tell you that they have depression because of their heart condition and PTSD from hospitals and the surgeries. Because I am the way I am, I have depression and PTSD from what has happened to me while growing up and past relationships.

Katlyn Poliszczuk, HLHS, 24, Fontan, Glenn, Norwood, Cleveland Clinic, depression, anxiety, ptsd, CHD Legacy, chdlegacy

I have to admit, I am not on any medication for depression, anxiety or PTSD. I am supposed to be, but the Psychiatrist that I met the one time never put the order in and I gave up after the two emails I sent her. With my schedule, being a full time student working towards my Bachelors Degree in Paralegal (already have my Associates + Certificate in Paralegal) at Kent State University in Ohio, two jobs as a teacher aide at a daycare and a nanny to three wonderful children, and interning at a local law firm, I don’t even know why I am depressed anymore.

I do have three things that do help me when in an anxiety attack or just don’t feel like doing anything:

Katlyn Poliszczuk, HLHS, 24, Fontan, Glenn, Norwood, Cleveland Clinic, depression, anxiety, ptsd, CHD Legacy, chdlegacy

(1) Paisley May - 1 year old German Shepherd. She is not my service dog, but I do take her most places with me. ;

(2) Loretta - 8 year old American Paint Horse mare contesting horse. We run barrels, keyhole, stakes, and at the barn I board her at has a lot of obstacles that we practice with. I personally hate Ohio’s winter, but when I need to ride, who needs a saddle?;

(3) Exercise - I do have a membership at a local gym. My workouts include walking on an inclined treadmill for 20 - 30 minutes, stairs, elliptical, deadlifts and workout machines. With my school, work, and barn schedule, I try to make it up to the gym six days a week. If not, four days a week.

I think the best advice that I could give to both CHD parents and CHD child is that when it is time for the CHD child to start advocating for him or herself at the doctor’s office, the parent should let them! Quite frankly, we do not tell y'all everything. Every headache, leg pain, chest pain, body ache, etc. is unfortunately not discussed. Not to worry the CHD parent, but at a certain age, children feel the need to be ‘independent’, even at at small age. When the time comes for your CHD child to speak up to their Cardiologist or any doctor they see, make sure that the Cardiologist or whoever, actually takes the time to listen to not only your concerns as a parent, but your child’s concerns as the actual patient.

Finally, I would have to say that my favorite quote would be “Her life was a circus. So she decided to enjoy the ride.” - Unknown. Because growing up with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is definitely an adventure in and of itself.

Katlyn Poliszczuk, HLHS, 24, Fontan, Glenn, Norwood, Cleveland Clinic, depression, anxiety, ptsd, CHD Legacy, chdlegacy

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