I’m not the only 30-something who went home for quarantine. Last fall, I sat with my parents on the patio of my childhood home in Arlington, Virginia, enjoying the at dusk while we sipped gin and tonics. I was drinking with my parents at home on a Tuesday night, just like I did ten years ago when I was 23, and struggling to figure out my . But I didn’t go because I wanted to ― I went because I had to.
Before COVID-19 took off, I struggled with my in Los Angeles. I was in advanced . I , which led to tightness in my chest so constricting that it felt like being strangled by an invisible corset. I would from one or two errands beyond fatigued, curling up in the fetal position until the tightness subsided, sometimes for more than 30 minutes.
I had been through something similar three years prior. I had a hole between my aorta and right ventricle leaking . But this was different. I had new signs, and they were worse: tightness in my chest, loss of appetite ― I went from being excited about my next meal to eating because I knew I should pay for the point where I no longer had the strength to drive or leave my apartment.
I had another hole in my aorta, but the same quick patch in 2017 did not work in 2020. I felt so much better initially that I accepted a last-minute invitation to the Magic Castle (a members-only magic club) just two days after the minimally invasive cardiac procedure to close the hole. But a week after a night of magic and medium-ra e-filet, I could not enjoy a steak dinner at a nice restaurant in my Koreatown neighborhood to in LA with my roommate.
My aorta was tearing again, and the only way to fix it now was open-heart surgery.
I known as the No. 1 killer of men and women. I have congenital heart disease, the type prese t at birth that can’t be “fixed,” It continually threatens to with an arrhythmia or leaky valve when I least expect it.
My , like a volcano, would occasionally go dormant, but they never stopped being active. A life with complex congenital heart disease is ― how do I put this? ― a pain in the ass. As the coronavirus was ramping up, I was consumed d with my respiratory struggles in my hospital room, ignorant of the growing pandemic outside. On the day of my surgery, March 18, UCLA Medica Center, my hospital, stopped .