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Broken Hearted in Oxford - Life with a Heart Condition

By Anoushka Pandey

At birth, I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, basically, a hole in my heart. In 2003, at almost 8 years old I had my first open heart surgery and what followed was a life of procedures and a cautious mindset.

When I first moved to Oxford, I wasn’t ready to let others know of this. I arrived in September, and the only obvious evidence - my zipper scar – was politely concealed with the layers of clothing that autumn wind at Oxford required.

But then came the cold and freshers’ flu, which hit me harder than everybody else. Along came those hikes and walks where I’d be the slowest, panting and falling behind. My pace managed to surprise everyone including me, I am used to higher elevations in Kathmandu, and long walks due to my work in villages, but I wasn’t used to the cold. So, while my body is doing everything else, it is also working extra hard to keep itself warm, which it struggles to do.

In July 2021, when I started my OX application, I was diagnosed with yet another condition. One day after a workout, I felt dizzy and bumped my head as I fell to the ground. When I woke up, two things were extremely swollen - the bump on my head and my heart. My life came to a semi-halt because of it. At my parents’ home where everything was taken care of for me, I focused on getting it fixed and getting into college. And I did both.

So, here I am during my matriculation with a very happy but still a tiny bit of a broken heart.

My CHD is an experience that shaped me, and whilst my life would have been very different without it, it is a part of me and not all of me.


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