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I’ve been working full-time for a year in Dallas, and since I’m probably sticking around for a while it seemed like a good time to find a Cardiologist.
Wait, Johna, why do you need a cardiologist?
Well, dear reader, I have a condition called “dilated cardiomyopathy.” I was born with a hole in my heart and when I was three years old the doctors went to check on it and discovered the left side of my heart was kinda big, so it’s nothing particularly new. I had the same cardiologist for ~20 years until he retired (because doctors are people too) so in college I was kind of in limbo heart-doctor-wise because my family/medical records were all in Alaska while I was in Dallas/Moscow/Beijing.
So, like, what does that actually mean?
Dilated Cardiomyopathy is actually one of the most common types of cardiomyopathy (a heart disease) and can be caused by anything from alcoholism to cancer drugs to genetics – mine is in my genes and is also related to a much less common form of cardiomyopathy. It’s not a great thing to find in children because the prognosis is pretty grim (it ends up being something like a 50/50 survival rate to your pre-teens).
The human heart is supposed to look kind of like an American football, but mine looks more like a basketball because the left side is significantly enlarged. It’s kind of like a balloon that gets blown up just a tiny bit further every time, so the walls of the heart are thinner than normal and it doesn’t function at a normal capacity which can cause other weird problems (like blood cots or arrhythmias).
It also means that I can’t do stuff like go on roller-coasters, drink energy drinks (or live on coffee), have a biological kid, do competitive/high intensity sports or activities, smoke, pull a week of all-nighters, and generally I just shouldn’t stress my body out physically too much. Upside: I got out of every gym class ever while I was growing up and developed a healthy resistance to peer pressure.
I can do cardio as long as I’m not over-exerting myself, but usually I’ll just opt out of activities that are athletic and team-based.
Oh man, Johna, are you dying?
Technically speaking I have a version of heart failure, but since my heart’s been weird since I was born, my body has adjusted to it. I’m pretty asymptomatic (meaning that a lot of the time I don’t notice it) except that sometimes I get tired faster than I should or I need to sit down because my heart’s beating quickly.
I’ve been on all the right medication since I was three years old and my condition hasn’t changed a lot, so I’m pretty much doing a-okay. In high school my cardiologist thought I might need a heart transplant (not that anyone told me that), but my condition never worsened to that extent so I’m just gonna say: “Don’t worry, I’m fine.”
Okay, so if you’re fine, why are you bringing it up now?
There are two parts to this:
1. Being a kid with heart failure and being an adult with heart failure are two very different things. When you’re a kid you’ve got a better chance of being in uncharted territory medically speaking and people don’t really know what to do with you so there’s more of a “wait and see” mentality.
As an adult there are a lot more “concrete” solutions that become available because doctors have been studying adults in different capacities for friggin’ forever. This means that my new doctor has already started looking at fixes; a ‘fix’ when you have heart failure often involves some kind of minor surgery, and the decision process up to that point requires tests and research and a lot of thought. Some of this stuff I’ll be going through in the next 6 months or so would be way harder to not talk about (like, “hey, why are you suddenly like Iron Man with a flashing light on your chest?”). Yeah, I could wear bulky sweaters and go out of my way to hide it, or pretend I’m not stressed about managing work/life/health, but I’d rather just be comfortable talking about it without feeling like I have to start from ground zero every time.
2. As I started researching some of these “fixes” I realized that there isn’t a lot of easily available anecdotal information about people actually going through this whole process. There are a couple of forums that are hard to sort through, but besides that it’s a lot of documentation from the American Heart Association and other similar organizations that are very clinical (and it’s not like you just casually talk about this with people every day who also have the same problem). As someone who’s spent the past 20 years being “pretty much fine” it’s terrifying to think of life changing so drastically so quickly when I don’t feel like I’m getting any worse. I’d love to have a resource that someone can look at who’s in a similar situation and feel a little bit less alone.
I’d also love to try to make it somehow funny/enjoyable because this is my life and it’s weird but also great, so tell me if I’m just bumming you guys out.
I have always had a big heart, and I’m doing fine. Figuring out how to live with Dilated Cardiomyopathy as an adult is a totally different situation than having it as a kid: navigating insurance, big medical appointments/decisions, and work-life is something that you don’t really have to deal with when you’re still in school – it would be way harder for me to not talk about this stuff as it comes up.
Obviously you have to use Amazon in order to do reviews on Amazon, but what other technologies do you have to know about in order to successfully interact with sellers and why?
If you’ve filled out your Amazon profile then you’ve put your email in plain sight where anyone can see it. This is where most sellers will probably contact you. Sometimes they’ll have an @gmail.com account and sometimes they’ll have email accounts that end with @126.com or @134.com. These aren’t spam emails, 126.com and 134.com are domain names that are popular in China, where a lot of the people who are contacting you work and live.
I advertise myself as an Amazon Reviewer on Instagram and over the past month or so sellers have increasingly been using the social media platform to make initial contact. Their Instagram accounts will usually be full of pictures of clothes and captions like ‘contact us if you want to review these products’ – they aren’t very subtle. One of their first questions will be “What’s your Amazon Profile link?” so they can verify that you actually review things on Amazon. It’s helpful to have that on hand in a text file or something that you can just copy and paste.
Follow Up Contact
A lot of sellers will follow up by saying “Add us on Facebook” or “Add us on WeChat”
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what Facebook is, so I’m not going to insult your intelligence by explaining the social media platform. If you’ve put your full name on your Amazon profile then sellers can find you and contact you via Facebook. They might just message you or they may also try to friend you. Don’t freak out, they’re not trying to stalk you, it’s just how their business contacts people. It also makes it easier to put people into “Review Groups”
I personally have a “No Facebook Friend” rule which some seller’s abide by and some don’t. If a seller really wants to work with you then they’ll respect that you only want to talk over email.
If you live in the United States, you might not be familiar with WeChat. It’s a social messaging platform much like AIM or Facebook Messenger that’s popular in Asia. You register on your phone but can also chat on the computer (which makes it easier for sellers who are on their computers). Because it’s an instant messaging platform it means that you might get messages at all hours of the day or night – because sellers are in Asia and the time difference is significant, I get a lot of messages between 10pm and 6am. If you go the WeChat route I highly suggest silencing your phone at night so you don’t wake up with people messaging you about reviews.
Getting the Products
Amazon Refunds/Discount Codes
Sellers will offer you discount codes or amazon gift cards in return for buying/reviewing their products. Don’t do this. Amazon can easily track this activity and flag it as suspicious. Just don’t.
If a seller is serious about paying you/reimburse you, I’ve found without exception they’ll use PayPal. You have to have an account for this (you can have multiple emails on the same email account, so I added my email that I use with sellers). Sometimes they’ll offer to pay you before you buy, sometimes after your payment has gone through, sometimes after your review. It’s up to your discretion as to which options you choose. Thus far I haven’t had a seller not follow through if they said they’d pay me.
There are a couple of companies that will just directly ship the products to you and include the Amazon receipt in the bag. Amazon will let you review products like this, but your review won’t be “verified” because you didn’t buy them on your account, so you’re limited in the number of these you can do per week. I’m also not totally confident that if you review a lot of these Amazon won’t mark your profile as suspicious (you can only say “my mom got me this dress as a gift” so many times before it becomes weird).
8,442 Followers Because my content tends to be generic (“I did a thing”, “here is a computer”, “check out this dog”) – it makes for good content for amalgamation accounts that have specific themes (ex: “girls on computers”, “computers”, “dogs”). When I know I’ve been […]