This I Believe

Alice - Gainesville, Virginia
Entered on June 16, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Two years ago everything changed. I could no longer play sports. I couldn’t wake up in the mornings. I had to take over fifteen tablets each day. I had to visit the cardiologist’s office every month. I was shy and scared. The doctors I met were pleasant, but they had many other patients and little time to talk and get to know me. Their bustling in and out of my life disturbed me. Sometimes I felt as if they wanted to give me as many painful tests as possible. In the midst of the needles and wires and scanning machines was Allison. She was a Nurse Practitioner, but really she was a friend when I needed one.

On that rainy morning of my Tilt Table Test, she greeted me at the door smiling and led me to the exam room. The test is designed to determine whether or not a patient has POTS or a malfunctioning of the Autonomic Nervous System by monitoring how long it takes for the person to faint. It was important for my diagnosis, I knew that, but I was terrified.

The technician who operated the Tilt Table machinery told Allison that she could leave; it was her scheduled break. She ignored him and stayed by my side as I was fastened to the table. She held my arm and gently explained all that was happening as the table and I were raised to an 85º angle. As the technician called out numbers and medical jargon, Allison translated the figures and explained all that the man was muttering. In between these remarks she asked me about the school play, my life and “that French test”. I did not think she would have remembered all these little details about me. But she had. And she was there.

After six minutes, I noticed that my skin had drained of all colour, I was shaking and my eyes were twitching. The cardiologist breezed in and spoke in hushed tones to the technician. In leaving, he spotted Allison holding tight to my arm and reassuring me. He told her she could take her break. She did not move, and declined the offer. The doctor left.

At nine minutes my eyes were still twitching but felt heavy. I felt sick and was trembling. My skin was yellow and I felt dizzy. My mouth was dry as I felt myself drift away. All I remember about my fainting was how scared and vulnerable I felt when I came-to, until I saw Allison standing by me talking and still holding my arm.

I got my diagnosis; the doctor was thrilled. But I also got something else that day. I received a special gift: time. That day, I was given time with Allison when she was not obliged to stay with me. I believe that time is the greatest gift you can receive. Her time with me was the best medicine, and the most wonderful gift I have ever, and will ever receive.