Thuy Linh has lived with a pacemaker for more than 10 years, along with many storms of life and love, but she has never had any intention of giving up.
At 8 am, Nguyen Thuy Linh (32 years old, Ba Dinh district) was present at Hanoi Heart Hospital to periodically check her heart. She has lived with a pacemaker for more than 10 years and will be for the rest of her life, ever since she found out she had 3rd-degree atrioventricular block (a heart defect, also known as atrioventricular dissociation) – the highest degree it can cause. serious complications, even sudden death.
“The doctor said my health is normal, the pacemaker can be used for another 3-4 years”, Linh smiled, relieved with the doctor’s conclusion, after nearly 4 hours of waiting for procedures and tests. , taken at the hospital.
Heart surgery failed
At the age of 18, not attending college, Linh decided to marry a man 17 years older than her through matchmaking.
An educated man, a family with good conditions, from a big city overwhelmed the girl who was born in a poor village. After a week of talking, he went from Hanoi to Thai Nguyen to meet Linh’s parents and ask about marriage.
The first time they met, Linh was not impressed with her husband, but still agreed to find out. He is the first love, mature and knows how to pamper, so soon she accepted the love. After 10 months, they got married, although she said goodbye at least twice.
“I love him with everything I have,” Linh said. From that day on, she moved to Hanoi to live, not working, wholeheartedly staying at home to take care of her small family.
In early 2009, Linh became pregnant. During a prenatal visit, the doctor asked her to do more tests when some abnormalities were detected. The results stated that the woman had a heart valve regurgitation when the fetus was only 2 months old.
Linh did not cry, but her husband almost broke down and suffered. She encouraged him back, saying “I’ll be fine”.
Doctors consulted many times, considering this a serious case, asking Linh to consider keeping or aborting the child. She decided to keep the baby.
During her pregnancy, Linh was loved and cared for by her family. In April 2010, she gave birth by cesarean section to a boy, in stable health, with almost no signs of heart disease.
After a year of breastfeeding, Linh was given a treatment plan that required surgery, otherwise “she could die at any time”.
In order to prepare for the surgery with the hope of a complete recovery, she went to every large and small hospital in Hanoi to do tests, participate in consultations with doctors.
One winter day in 2011, Linh entered a major surgery to “repair” her heart. The anesthesiologist placed ECMO (artificial cardiopulmonary bypass), cut 6 thoracic bones with an electric scalpel, made 3 more incisions in the abdomen, placed a drainage tube as well as an electrical wire connecting the heart to the outside and connecting to the lower ducts hospital bed.
6-7 hours later, she woke up from a coma, pain covered her body. “I was like the main character in a horror movie, the surroundings were terrible even though I was prepared mentally,” Linh recalled.
It took her a month to recover, and each visit was like a nightmare. In the same hospital room, there were both old people and children, even though they were operated on the same day, some people woke up a few hours before Linh, and some people did not wake up until the day she was discharged from the hospital.
Scars from surgery all over the body, due to allergies, almost do not heal, rough all over the skin. But for Linh, the scar is not the biggest concern, instead, it is the doctor’s confession.
“The operation failed, I had 3rd degree atrioventricular block, which means my heart beat too slow”, repeating every word of the doctor, Linh burst into tears, speaking as if holding a death sentence in her hand, becoming a burden for her family. family.
She went home, went online to read all the documents about 3rd-degree atrioventricular block. Linh’s heart rate was only 43 beats per minute while this figure in normal women was 60. This made her ability to pump blood. Not enough on the organs of the heart, can cause fainting due to temporary cardiac arrest or sudden death due to prolonged cardiac arrest without prompt medical attention.
The best treatment for patients with 3rd degree atrioventricular block is permanent pacemaker placement. This is a small electrical device that is placed in the heart chambers, helping to create a heartbeat at a normal rate, capable of pumping blood to the organs in the body.
Continuously for a month and a half, Linh went in and out of the hospital for examination. After the tests, she was put on a monitor that monitors her heart rate for 24 hours. She is like a robot, living dependent on the device.
Illness and unsatisfactory family life pushed Linh to the brink of depression at the age of 20. She was lonely, had no one to confide in, carried all the burdens alone and thought she would look to death to be relieved.
Health deteriorated seriously, but Linh hesitated to install a heart rate support machine. She knew that she could die at any moment, even in her sleep.
Everything around was blurry and dark.
One night, in a severe headache, Linh felt that death was near. She began to think about the doctor’s words, that a pacemaker with an average lifespan of 10-12 years could help her continue to live and have more memories with her son.
The next morning, she entered the hospital, decided to have surgery to put a pacemaker, accepting to live with it forever.
Since then, Linh has returned to her normal life, working less, and limiting some vigorous activities. She lives conservatively, tries to protect her heart as best as possible, maintains regular exercise every day for more than 30 minutes such as jogging, cycling, swimming, …
The diet is also focused on salt-free, eating a lot of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, etc.
“My only wish is to be a normal person”
Some time later, Linh and her husband divorced due to incompatibility. The son is taken care of by the paternal family.
She struggled alone in Hanoi: No family, no degree, no job, her body was sick.
Although stuck, but Linh feels lucky because always having a son is the motivation to strive to become the best version. She told herself to live well so that her children would always be proud of themselves.
Linh found a job, despite being rejected several times with a history of heart disease. She applied for a job at a jewelry company, fortunately received after two interviews. The salary is not much, but it helps her to be financially independent, gradually changing their life that depends only on others as before.
Later, Linh looked for opportunities in real estate, had a little capital, and lived a better life thanks to that.
She is happy every morning when she wakes up in her wallet with 200,000 VND, the car is full of gas, the phone is full of battery. She will call her son, make an appointment for lunch, and spend 200,000 VND. When her son goes to school, she goes home to drink a delicious cup of coffee, without having to worry or bother.
For her, such a simple life is heaven.
Because she has seriously thought about death and feelings next to death, Linh cherishes the present life. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring, so she always lives today to the fullest.
“For more than 10 years living with a pacemaker, my only wish is to be a normal person,” Linh said.
She still maintains a good relationship with her husband, often going to his house to take care of their children. Many people say that Linh should hate her husband, but she can’t. They are still like a family, only there is no love between her and him.
At the age of 30, she promised herself that she would never repeat the story of her life. Although she sometimes feels desperate, lonely, considers herself a failure, or tries to be strong to cover the weak parts inside, Linh knows how hard she has been trying to be alive. and live happily.
New love, new happiness
In 2020, during a business trip to Phu Quoc, Linh met her current lover. She used to be afraid of love and sick, so she was reserved when a man took the initiative to approach her.
At this time, Phu Quoc with Linh is a new land, life goes by gently. In the morning she meets customers, works happily, in the afternoon goes swimming, and walking along the beach.
While working in a familiar cafe, a German expert, 9 years older than Linh, was stuck in Vietnam because of Covid-19 and took the initiative to get to know her.
Through the conversation, Linh agreed to make friends and become a guide for this person, even though her English is not good. From the very beginning, she drew the line, that “I was divorced, had a child, did not like to get married”.
“If he said he was looking for a love relationship, I would immediately refuse. But we decided to be friends,” Linh said.
Once, a foreign man accidentally saw Linh’s long scar. She also did not hide her illness, admitting that she had lived with a pacemaker for a long time.
He was shocked, but a few days later, seriously asked: “Stop working, let me take care of your life. The fact that you have been divorced, have children … For me, it is nothing”.
Linh once avoided love, but enough time to get to know and understand this man, touched by the confession “protecting my whole life”, she began to flutter and open her heart. The two were in long-distance love during the Covid-19 years, connecting with each other via phone.
In early 2022, when the epidemic was under control, they flew together to Thailand for a 15-day tour. Stopping at any temple in Thai land, he stopped and proposed to his beloved: “Linh, maybe not officially, but under the witness of the gods, you can stay here. Can I be with you forever? I agree to be your wife!”.
After saying that, he took off the gold chain around his neck and put it on Linh, as a pledge.
The girl nodded slightly in agreement, crying in happiness.
“Once I can live in a pink dream like this, I also accept it,” she confided.
Fulfilling his promise, he flew back to Vietnam many times and met and talked with Linh’s family. They both bought a house in Hanoi, and made an appointment to return to Germany at the end of the year to meet his parents, dreaming of a happy ending.
Linh’s last birthday in September was the most special day in more than 30 years, when she was next to the person she really loved.
“After many ups and downs, life is so easy now sometimes it scares me, how long will it last? But for me, every day is worth living and living in a special way,” she said.
“Me, I’ll never give up”
Linh longs to do seemingly ordinary things, such as running on her feet, flying in the sky, and diving under the sea. Every day, she spends time jogging, cycling, swimming, and wants to learn professional diving.
Last June, she signed up for a tour to explore Hang En – the third largest cave in the world to experience jungle, wading streams and eagerly camping overnight in the cave.
Linh crossed 22km of forest road in two days, eagerly with a backpack on her shoulder, proudly “oh I have a heart condition, but I look as healthy as everyone else”.
The girl felt great when she crossed another limit of herself, to receive a well-deserved reward of a cool, clear blue stream. She freely swam, then went ashore to sit by the red fire and drink a cup of hot coffee in her hand.
The way back was more difficult, with a 2 hour steep climb, and of course the heart was… against the master. Linh climbed 3 stairs, then stopped for a few minutes. Just like that, 3-4 steps to rest.
When encouraged and supported by the instructors, she cried again, “I’m fine, don’t make me feel like a failure, let me go on my own. I can go, go slowly”. She tried to explain to people how the pacemaker works so they wouldn’t be… scared and worried.
So the group split into two. One group went ahead, the other group fell behind because of Linh. Every time she cried, everyone cheered “Try hard, you can do it”.
She seemed to be given more strength, aggressively dashing forward. The pain seemed to disappear into nothingness, her chest filled with the strength of will.
The slopes continued to follow each other, long hun, forever refused to stop. The heart was still not satisfied, causing her to cry once again, helpless in her limbs. Although resting continuously, the legs still go, with the desire to conquer themselves.
Finally, just an hour later than the previous group, Linh’s group reached the finish line with overwhelming happiness. The tour guide said to her, “It’s the first time someone with a heart condition is climbing the mountain.”
Linh smiled happily in her heart, proudly: “Me, I will never give up, no matter how bumpy the life ahead is.”
(According to Dan Tri)
Keyword: The life of a Hanoi girl whose heart is “powered by a machine”