Skip to main content

Skipping Around Our Barriers

By Simon Reuter

I had a switch operation in 1976 to correct transposition of the great arteries; a VSD and ASD were also closed. Then in 1987 I returned to theatre for reclosure of the ASD and correction of pulmonary stenosis.

Throughout my life I have always had 3 dreams I was determined to achieve. The first was to become a children's nurse. I qualified in 1995 and am now enjoying working on a general paediatric ward. The second was to travel around New Zealand. This I did in 1997 exploring both islands for 3 months. The final dream was to bungee jump! The ultimate adrenaline buzz. What better time to 'take the plunge' than in the land of bungee, New Zealand.

I asked my doctors whether or not I should be attempting this stunt and they warned me that it might be a dangerous thing to do; nobody knew what pressures were exerted on the heart when bungee jumping. However I had a dream. My family were obviously very worried (especially my mum) but knew it was something I had to do. My family knew what day I was going to jump, July 3rd, ten years to the day since my last operation, I believe in tempting fate.

The day of the jump was a cold and drizzly day in Taupo. I didn't feel nervous, just a gritted determination to do it. This was until I got to the jump site. When my turn came and I was being attached to the elastic rope, my stomach wasn't just churning, it was spinning and I felt sick. As I shuffled to the edge ready for the jump, my head felt very light, the adrenaline was racing round my body and I was buzzing. As I stood on the edge I began to think, what am I doing?

Then I remembered, in life we all have barriers we find difficult to cross, physical, emotional and psychological. Having a heart condition, as we are all well aware, can limit what we can do. However, occasionally we each need to cross these barriers and push life beyond our usual boundaries. It gives an extra reason for living and we can be proud of these achievements; whether it is climbing an extra flight of stairs', playing football in the park or bungee jumping. To each individual this may be a fight to accomplish, but so rewarding when achieved.

The jump was fantastic, my legs were like jelly at the top, and then I jumped. I remember being softly dipped into the freezing river and then as I sprang back, all I could think was WOW! Then I realised I was still alive and let out a huge scream of sheer delight. I don't think I stopped laughing and buzzing all day, and I had the biggest grin ever seen.

I know it was a stupid and maybe selfish thing to do, therefore I cannot encourage other people to perform this stunt, but on that day, as I did ten years earlier, I didn't just cross my barriers I skipped and danced around them. Life is there to be lived and enjoyed, may you all live and enjoy it and occasionally go skipping.

PS. Dr Somerville did appreciate her postcard from New Zealand and I thank her, all the nurses and doctors that have cared for me and all the other health employees that have allowed me to go skipping. Life's great!

Printed in GUCH News - Issue 24, March 2000

« View all Inspirational Stories
image description

Help & Advice

Information on managing your heart condition, including Physical, Emotional and Mental Health.

Read more
image description Make a Donation

Make a donation to The Somerville Foundation today and you will help us to continue to offer the valuable services we provide to those born with a heart condition.