“Writing … about my CHD does not come naturally because I spent most of my childhood and part of my adulthood hiding the disease,” Sweta said.
Sweta has right ventricular hypoplasia, a critical congenital heart disease. She had three surgeries before turning 6 months old. Growing up, she did not really talk about her CHD. “In the early 90s, differing abilities was not at all something to be embraced and for a kid like me who could literally hide my scar, I just pretended to be like everyone else,” Sweta remembers.
Both of her parents are doctors so her health was monitored at home most times. However, when she turned 12 and experienced an irregularly fast heart rate, Sweta realized her condition went beyond her parents’ expertise. That cardiologist prescribed medication she must take the rest of her life. Still, other than the daily medication and needing to sit out some in gym class, Sweta lived a relatively “normal” childhood.
When she got to college and started looking into CHD for herself, she realized how special she really is. “I realized I should be wearing my scar as a badge of honor. The further I got into my studies of biology and physiology, the more I realized how powerful those of us living with CHD really are. My CHD made me a cautious person, sure, but it also made me a responsible person,” Sweta said. Having to take pills everyday as a child, manage her own medications and doctors visits, advocating for herself — all spoke to her responsible nature from a young age.
When she got to medical school she spoke openly about her CHD. She was always up for giving her peers the patient’s perspective when they were learning about CHD. Though she is not a cardiologist and performs more in general medicine, she has seen a few CHD patients. She sees her relationship with them as more a kinship. “CHD has made me more aware as a doctor of the patient’s feelings and I think it has overall made me a more empathetic person,” Sweta said.
Sweta is an accomplished physician, daughter, wife, and new mom to her newly adopted little girl. She has accomplished so much in her life and is truly inspiring. She had some advice for those kindred spirits, her fellow CHD patients: “Be confident in your ability to do anything you want. If you have CHD, you are already a fighter and can use that power as motivation to accomplish your goals. Being a doctor was my dream with or without my CHD and I never let the disease stand in my way. Most of the time, we are much stronger than we think and things that are viewed by society as limitations can be used as a secret source of power and strength.”