This I Believe

Adriane - Missouri City, Texas
Entered on October 22, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks
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When someone loses their heath but is able to recover, their perspective on life improves. I believe health is the most important aspect of life.

I was ten years old when I found out the hard way that I had ventricular trigeminy, a type of heart arrhythmia that consists of two normal heartbeats followed by one premature ventricular contraction. Two days before being diagnosed, I was returning from a Girl Scouts summer camp where my troop had spent four days in the agonizing mid-July heat of southern Texas. The overexposure to heat combined with my bad habit of not drinking enough fluids led to an emergency room visit I wouldn’t soon forget.

The morning after returning from camp I felt nauseous and dizzy. My face was pale and my lips were blue. My mom gave me water but didn’t know how else to help me, so it was off to the pediatrician. At the pediatrician’s office a nurse took my height, weight, and blood pressure. She was perplexed by what the screen on the heart rate monitor said. She called in another pediatrician who took my blood pressure again and then listened to my heart. He told my mother that my heart rate was in the thirties and I needed to be taken to the hospital, immediately.

In much less time than it should have taken, my mother and I arrived at the emergency room at Texas Children’s Hospital. We walked into the lobby and I found a place to stand in the crowded waiting room while my mom checked me in. I was positive everybody was overreacting. I felt sick, big deal! Feeling sick barely even worked as an excuse to leave school early, why was it suddenly so important? Within minutes my name was called and I was whisked off to a gurney hidden behind a pale-blue curtain, separating me from the patient to my right. All of a sudden nurses swarmed me. They rushed around like bees, plugging in wires, turning on machines, and sticking me with needles. My mother wrapped her hand around mine as a nurse grabbed my other arm, searching for a vain to pierce an IV with. I started to cry. I was confused and scared. What was wrong with me?

After dozens of tests and x-rays of my heart, I was diagnosed with ventricular trigeminy. The doctors explained that for every three beats my heart had one irregular beat. The amount of sun I was exposed to the past week paired with dehydration kicked in my heart arrhythmia which had probably always been their but until now, had only occurred sporadically. I was hooked up to a portable heart monitor and allowed to leave the hospital under the close eye of Dr. Mom.

That night my symptoms returned. My parents wasted no time at all. We returned to the Emergency Room and I was re-wired to machines. This time my stay at the hospital lasted over night so doctors could observe me. Before going to sleep, my mom had me write a letter to my brother. She said it was for him to read when I go off to middle school and he’s left at elementary school on his own. She told me to write about what it was like to be an older sister and about the things I like to do. I thought this was just something to distract me. I didn’t realize the gravity of this letter. This was a letter for my brother to have when he was older in case I died.

I slept on and off that night, occasionally waking up to the beeping sound of the heart monitor. I remember my mother crying outside my door.

The next morning I was hooked up to another portable heart monitor and allowed to leave again. My mother was given strict regulations to make sure I drank plenty of fluids and gave me salt tablets that the doctor had prescribed.

Eventually everything seemed to return to normal and life went on. Although my mother says the whole experience was traumatic and suspenseful, I see the experience as only a positive event that has helped shaped me into the person I am today. As a teenager reaching the end of high school and creating a future for myself, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important in life, my health. My experience in the emergency room serves as a constant reminder of how precious and fragile life is and how easily it is taken for granted until something drastic occurs. This, I believe.