“Really listen to your body and learn from what it’s telling you,” said Christine Coutu, 29, this mornng on the steps of Portland city hall. February is American Heart Month and to raise awareness of heart disease and how to help prevent it, city hall will be illuminated in red for the month – the ninth consecutive year.
Coutu spoke artfully about living with heart trouble – diagnosed with “Transposition of the Great Arteries” shortly following her birth in 1983. She was born with two circulatory systems and her body wasn’t getting enough oxygenated blood. At birth, she had blue lips, finger tips and toes.
At five months, she suffered a stroke at Boston Children’s Hospital while awaiting surgery to repair her heart. Multiple seizures followed. Health problems continued to plague her. She also received a pacemaker. Since 2003, life has become more normal for her with the help of medications. “I also graduated college, married my high school sweetheart in 2008, earned my Masters degree, and now work as a school counselor in a local middle school….I recently started training for my first ever 5K in May…”
“When my heart speaks, I listen. I have to,” Coutu said.