Jenni Sego and Cassie

Jenni, 39, was born with ostium primum atrial defect (a hole in the heart) and her daughter Cassie, 4, also was born with a heart defect. Both are patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Herma Heart Center.

I was first diagnosed with a heart defect in 1975 when I was 4 years old. I had open-heart surgery to repair a large hole between the two chambers. I grew up a very normal kid and never considered myself to be someone with a heart problem.

More than three decades later in 2008, it was discovered through an employee of mine that I had very high blood pressure …190/100! I tried to justify it with being a mom working third shift and chasing three kids around. At the urging of my family and the employee, I went to see my primary care doctor who immediately said I needed to see a cardiologist. I have not been to one since I was a child. I remembered my mom telling me about the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. She said Dr. Michael Earing was the person to see.

I went to see Dr. Earing March 6, 2008. After a very thorough appointment with several echocardiograms, I was told I had another defect – coarctation of the aorta – that would need to be repaired. With Dr. Earing’s encouragement and after talking with the different doctors who could potentially fix me, I went through with the surgical repair.

I am now very conscious of listening to my body. I pay attention if something seems a little off. I visit Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Herma Heart Center once a year for checkups and will continue to do that for the rest of my life.

If you or someone you know is an adult living with a congenital heart disease, call (414) 607-5280 to make an appointment to be seen in the Adults with Congenital Heart Disease Program.

~ Jenni Sego, guest blogger

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