Today marks 11 years since my 3rd and final (& ALAS! successful) heart surgery.
Turning 30 years old was never guaranteed and last year’s 10-year anniversary of a relatively healthy ticker had me feeling extra emotional … in the name of expression, I decided to go with some story-telling.
Written on 12/28/2020:
During middle school, I was haphazardly diagnosed with a “hereditary tachycardia” – of which there was “no risk, but I’d probably feel off now and again.” I took the “no risk” as the punch line and interpreted the rest as such: I can do anything as long as I’m willing to win the battle against whatever I feel – mind over matter. Besides, the medical professional said no risk…
For almost two decades my heart worked and worked and worked. As I got older, my episodes became more frequent. By the age of 19, I spent more time in a state of tachycardia than not.
It would race in the middle of the night, during class, during practice, during competition, while I hung out with my friends… and calling it an accelerated heart rate doesn’t even scratch the surface – it was off the charts (when I finally got on a monitor, over 310 bpm was nearly routine – NO, THAT IS NOT A TYPO!) .
There were numerous times when it maybe should have, or could have, just said no more.
In the summer of 2010 I had one exceptionally bad episode that, thankfully, lead me back to a specialist for the first time since middle school. This particular episode was all of the normal symptoms, but the severity of them was far beyond what I could endure … and my tolerance for “discomfort” had grown quite high.
I had fully lost feeling in my limbs, lost most of my vision, could barely stand up, wasn’t able to speak and eventually began vomiting excessively without warning. The episode lasted more than 8 hours.
My third year of college came with a red shirt season, two unsuccessful surgeries, a real possibility that I may never return to athletics again, pain that gave a new definition to the 0-10 scale, fatigue that even to this very moment seems indescribable, and enough, with what at times felt like, loss to have me look in depth at every fiber of WHO I am …
… but with that also came resilience, gratitude, joy and conviction to take each day as a gift and bring more light to the people around me.
My team of doctors across the US would tell you that there is no science-based explanation for never losing consciousness, or how my heart and body kept going throughout the years. In disbelief and half chuckle, one doctor said it was truly a testament of my will.
After two previously heavy and absolutely silent operating rooms, three days after my 20th birthday, following 10 straight hours on the table, at about 8PM, I saw my first ever smile in the Operating Room.
I would not wish it upon anyone, but I am so grateful that this is part of my story.
Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – what we can endure by choosing to not give up is immeasurable and the strength we receive by asking is undeniable.
At the end of my yoga classes, I often offer a moment to be proud of yourself for CHOOSING to move, a moment to give THANKS to your body for doing great things for you, and an even longer moment to say it out loud: I FEEL GOOD.
“Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
Believed. Tested. LIVED.
My movement is my celebration. Thank God I’m in good hands Cheers to the next decade!