Throughout high school I was very active. I ran hurdles on the track team and enjoyed taking advanced conditioning and weight training classes at my school. Before my senior year, I had an MPFL reconstruction surgery on my knee, so when I started running again, I blamed my shortness of breath and dizziness on the fact that I was out of shape. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Every day in my weight training class I would get incredibly dizzy and short of breath. Activities that I would normally enjoy became really difficult for me. It got to the point where I had to sit down to rest after walking up the stairs. Out of curiosity, my dad took my pulse, just to check, and counted only 37 bpm. This was when we knew something was off.
My mom took me to the doctor and I was told I had a very slow, irregular heart beat. The doctor told us to go to the hospital right after our appointment to get an ekg while we waited for my blood work results to get back. My blood tests were normal, but the ekg was not. The ekg showed that I had AV Mobitz 2 heart block. After the ekg, I wore a 24hr Holter monitor that showed that I also had periods of Third Degree AV block. With this information, it was decided that I needed to have a dual chamber pacemaker.
Due to COVID-19 and the urgency of my situation, I had my pacemaker surgery set for the very next week. While my situation wasn’t ideal, the staff at Primary Children’s took every precaution to keep me safe. On the day of my surgery, I struggled with the idea of being 17 years old and having a pacemaker. I felt incredibly alone. But in that moment, the person I needed most popped in the room. My Pre-Op nurse. Who was the same nurse that looked after me after my knee surgery. She was my favorite nurse. So knowing that she was taking care of me again gave me so much comfort.
She explained to me that she recognized my name on the surgery schedule and wanted to be there in Pre-Op for my pacemaker surgery. Seeing her familiar face, and knowing that she cared gave me the courage I needed. She took the time to catch up with me, and help me process the many different feelings I was experiencing. I will forever be grateful for her kindness and encouragement.
While my journey hasn’t been easy, my care team at Primary Children’s has been there with me every step of the way. I am very grateful for the nurses, techs, doctors, surgical staff and all other hospital workers that kept me safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and gave my heart the care it needed to keep me going.
I had a pacemaker put in at 17 years old, while uncommon, there are other kids out there like me. I just want them to know they aren’t alone and that their pacemaker won’t set them back. It will push them forward so they can accomplish their goals and dreams.
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