“All you have to do is be brave!”
Those were the words my grandfather told me when I was 4 years old and facing my first cardiac ablation procedure. Those words have been an inspiration to me ever since.
I was born with a congenital heart defect that would cause my heart to race at 200-300 beats per minute. Most people with this condition are diagnosed as they get older, between the ages of 11 and 50, however I was diagnosed as an infant.
I took a variety of medications and wore a halter monitor so my parents could watch me closely. The doctors were certain – even after a second ablation procedure at age 10 – that I would never play sports.
Using my grandfather’s inspiration to “be brave” helped me set big goals for myself and push the limits.
I lettered in three sports in high school and earned a full scholarship to play volleyball at Lynn University, a NCAA Division II school in Boca Raton, Fla.
Three years ago, I began to experience symptoms similar to before my ablation surgery. The diagnosis surprisingly was something different – inappropriate sinus tachycardia. Luckily, this can be treated with a beta-blocker to normalize my heart rate and an implanted looping monitor to track cardiac abnormalities. In the future, if symptoms continue to worsen an additional ablation surgery may be necessary.
I’m back home in Indiana now, working in the health care industry, and just married the love of my life, Brian. I recognize how important it is to pay attention to the signs your body gives you and to be an advocate for your own health. That is why I’m excited to be part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement. Please join me in supporting this cause that educates women about heart-healthy lifestyles, funds cutting-edge research and advances awareness about congenital heart defects.
With a grateful heart,