Save Date: September 6, 2008
I never would have thought that the one thing I loved would become the one thing to nearly destroy me.
It all started the summer before my sophomore year. After experiencing pain following a football camp, I ended up in the hospital for an appendectomy. Following my surgery, I was told that I had a slight heart murmur. The doctor considered it harmless because heart murmurs after surgeries are not uncommon for patients. The murmur had not disappeared by the end of the summer, so an echocardiogram was scheduled as a precaution. From there, I was referred to a specialist in Sioux Falls. Upon studying the results of the echo, I was told to de-condition my heart for a year to decipher whether or not it was an athlete's heart, a harmless condition for people with an active lifestyle. A year later, I went in for a checkup, and the thickening in the heart walls had decreased significantly. This made the doctors think it was athlete's heart and not heart disease. After much deliberation, it was decided that I could play. I spent my junior year playing varsity football and wrestling, all the while never having an adverse effect. It was a sign that my heart was holding up well to the stress. Before my senior year, I worked out and attended football camps all summer. As the football season rolled around, I was ready to get started. And then Oahe Prep Bowl happened. After pregame warm-ups, we were hanging out in the end zone waiting for the game to begin. I was telling a joke to a group of friends on the team and stood up to find myself very dizzy. The next thing I remember is my dad's voice calling me back to consciousness, and I opened my eyes to see gathering of doctors, teammates and family surrounding me. Seeing the jumble of people when I first awoke left me slightly panicked, although more so for my mom and teammates than for myself. My heart had stopped for nearly two minutes, I was told shortly after. One shock from the miraculous defibrillator brought me back to life. I was put on a stretcher against my will and carried into an ambulance, but not before giving the double thumbs up sign to the crowd. The doctors stabilized me at St. Mary's. Plans jumped from sending me immediately to Sioux Falls to permission to head home the next afternoon. Tons of family and friends stopped by the Intensive Care Unit to visit me and wish me well. It meant a lot to me and certainly helped to speed up the recovery process. The decision was eventually made that I would in fact be driven to Sioux Falls via ambulance. The next day an infinite number of tests were run, and the doctors told me I bleed green and white. They also decided that I would have an automatic defibrillator implanted in my chest. I stayed awake for most of the surgery, having some impressive doped-up conversations with the doctors. Before the implantation began, the defibrillator must have been held too close to a machine because after the surgery, they realized that it was slightly magnetized. The only side effect I have of this is sometimes when my heart rate goes up, the radio will switch to a higher frequency station, and vice versa when my heart rate slows. Oh, and I recently figured out that I can shut my computer off just be sneezing. Also, small metal objects will stick to my chest, over the scar.
I'm now back in school, trying to get back in rhythm with life.
I have a few restrictions, though, including steering clear of magnetic fields, holding my cell phone up only to my right ear, not driving for six months and sticking to a non-salt diet. The doctors are still unsure about my exact condition. I've noticed that I've taken a more serious approach when it comes to important obstacles in life, and I don't waste time anymore with the things that hold a lesser meaning.
So the next time you're doing something you enjoy, make sure to stop, relax, and cherish every moment of it.
Try not to focus so much on the small problems because that's just what they are: small.
Happiness has always been the most important aspect of my life, which is why I was willing to take chances with football. Football was my craze; my passion. Knowing I gave it my all but can still turn to other areas of life with just as much enthusiasm lets me know that I can conquer anything. Go Govs!
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