Inspiration: Max S. Gerber

© Max S. Gerber Photography

I was introduced to Max Gerber at the Adult Congenital Heart Association conference last year.  ACHA is an organization specifically established to serve as advocates for those of us who were born with heart defects (and the variety of them is staggering), and to make sure that we all realize that surgery isn’t the end of our journey, but just a part of it. We  all need life-long care, but that doesn’t mean life-long disability. Far from it.   The ACHA conference was one of the most inspiring events I’ve ever attended.  Heart patients, their families, physicians, nurses, etc, all rubbing shoulders and united in common cause. For me, however, it was being surrounded by my CHD peeps that made the event memorable. Never in my life had I met another congenital heart patient and now here I was, surrounded by a ballroom full of them proudly showing off their scars and sharing their stories. I still get choked up thinking about it.

Max is a professional portrait photographer and author.  I love his work.

He is also a congenital heart patient.

Max was given an area at the ACHA conference where he would shoot, for free, anyone who wished to be photographed. Here are a few of them.  I recognize many of them and in particular, Gwen, with whom I shared a lively lunch, and Shirley, who was in the ASD (Atrial Septal Defect) breakout session I attended.  The photos Max took of me didn’t make his website, but I did receive them.

carissa, heart patient (asd, sick sinus syndrome, pacemaker) © Max S. Gerber

carissa, heart patient (asd, sick sinus syndrome, pacemaker) © Max S. Gerber

Be sure to check out his portfolio and projects. Close to my heart are his photographs of evolutionists, and I was particularly delighted to see Eugenie Scott in the mix. She is a very special hero of mine.


  1. His “my heart vs. the real world” is very moving.

    It’s a constant struggle for me to balance between wanting to be aware and not wanting to be reminded just how difficult life is for many other people.

    For those who feel deeply, and I am not ashamed to rank me in that group, it’s often too much to see what some have to endure.

    Thanks for sharing.


    • Yes indeed, Emilio. There are days when I want to stay in bed with my head under the covers. The misery others face can be overwhelming. Meanwhile, the rest of us go on tilting at windmills. On the other hand, I’ve always said I’d rather be a bleeding heart than have no heart at all. In my case, I guess it applies figuratively and literally.


  2. Thank you so much for your story. While I do not have a congenital heart defect, and I lived most of my life oblivious to the whole idea of heart disease, I had a heart attach 3 years ago and it changed my life in so many ways. I went through a period of PTSD and I was afraid to do anything. After some time (and some counseling) I am trying to do everything to live my life to the fullest. I believe that is one of the reasons I try to find the beauty in e everything around me. I love stories like yours. Thank you.


    • Thanks for the kind words. If you’re interested in reading the full story of my heart, it’s at my other blog Blue Lyon. It can all be found under the category Cardiac Chronicles.

      I understand what you mean by PTSD, only mine has nothing to do with my heart (physically, anyway). Sweetie and I were at the Reno Air Races last September when the crash happened. Life changing. That’s on my blog too.

      I’m glad you got counseling. I know a lot of people when they go through something like that, something that comes on out of the blue, it can be traumatic. Good on you for getting past it and enjoying your life to fullest!


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