In January of 1988 I was admitted to Nicklaus Children's Hospital (known then as Miami Children’s), for open heart surgery when I was only three years old. As my parents have always told this story, everything started with a tiny hole in my heart, and as I got older and bigger, the hole in my heart grew too. I remember my surgeon, Dr. Subramanian. But at the age of three, that was a tough name for me to pronounce, so I just called him Superman--and super he most certainly was.
After my surgery, I recall a small but meaningful homecoming. Also, I can remember my pre-school presenting me with a massive heart shaped card and heart shaped balloons on my first day back in their company. There was a lot to be afraid of. Knowing that there was something wrong with the very organ that is responsible for keeping us alive was a lot to take on. The sight of a foot long scar going down the middle of my chest was another reminder that I was just a little bit different. Thankfully, I was surrounded by loving friends and family. My scar was called my "Badge of Honor". I no longer saw it as different--I saw it as AWESOME!
Later, when I was 20 years, I was hospitalized for a few days with a pericardial infection that made me collapse after a game of football. Once again, I was reminded that perhaps I don't have the strong heart I thought I had. Like I did when I was three, I looked passed what may have been "wrong" with me, and looked at everything else I have around me. Never did I let anything stop me--not physically, mentally, or emotionally.
With my medical history, I have honorably served in the United States Army here at home and abroad. I have remained physically active and have enjoyed a healthy lifestyle engaging in sports and weight-lifting, which has come in handy trying to keep up with my three-year old boy, Harvey. I even decided to run for office in Maryland. I have a parental duty to my son, and a civic duty to my community to enhance the quality of life for everyone who calls (or wishes to call) Maryland home.
My heart was once a point of concern, but now, my heart is what makes me unique--my heart is what I lead with.
I am grateful to the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff that not only took care of me 30 years ago, but also made sure my family knew their little boy was in the best care imaginable.
Together is Better,
- Harry E. Freeman