When My Life Changed

Heart issues that altered the way I live

Happy Sunday readers! Hope you are all enjoying your Labor Day Weekend! Today, I felt that it was a good idea for myself to share my personal life story on how that past 3-4 years of my life have changed my future drastically. I think it is really crazy how fast things can change in an instant which makes life so precious as you never really know what the next day holds. Below, I will share my long story on my journey with battling heart issues as they have come.

It all started the Spring of 2016 coming off a real good freshman season of playing football at my alma mater, William Paterson University. Spring practices were going real good, I gained 25 pounds and put on a lot of muscle mass too. 25 pounds may seem like a lot, but I was also a 200 pound defensive lineman, so I was basically an ant in my first season. I remember to this day on how sick I began to feel during finals week and thats really where everything began. Walking out of my Spanish final, I felt like I was going to drop to the floor and my mother had to bring me to the emergency room to get checked out. Later that week after some blood tests, I was told I had been diagnosed with mononucleosis (mono for short). A month goes by doing the typical protocol, stay in bed and rest; typical mono recovery. After I have been finally cleared to go back to training for football, I started to notice I was having heart palpitations a few times a minute every single day. This is where the next part of the story takes off.

Usually, I have been the person to ignore health issues that seem so minor as I thought this was, but it was something out of the ordinary, so I decided to head to the cardiologist. Went through the checkup, nothing was really showing for them, but they ordered for me to get a cardiac MRI (worst pain in a MRI machine in my life). After that was all done, the results came back and it showed that my heart was slightly enlarged, some scare tissue formed on my heart and one of the valves wasn’t pumping has efficiently as a heart should be doing. As a clueless person that I was, I never really thought of it until the doctor told me I have to stop playing football… devastation. My condition here was called Myocarditis.

After all of this was diagnosed, I was still experiencing those arrhythmia problems most likely due to the myocarditis, so I was hooked up like a science experiment from time to time with monitors to truly see what was going on here. After all of this began, I really took myself out of everything that made me happy like working out and playing sports as I was afraid of the worst to happening to me. It definitely was a long road to getting a positive mental state back, but of course, that wasn’t the end to this. Years go by, my condition improved dramatically as future MRI’s showed the scarring and enlargement are basically back to normal, but it wasn’t the end.

After feeling more arrhythmic episodes and light headedness during physical activity, I finally decided again to bring this up to my doctor. Long story short, in order for them to monitor me closer, I was told I needed an implantable loop recorder placed inside of me for a few years so they can see what is going on. My first ever surgery (literally took 5 minutes to complete) and here we are again being a robot. On May 30th, 2019 (my birthday), I received a call from my doctor mentioning how they picked up a life threatening arrhythmia and he needed to see me by the next day. Honestly, I thought I was going to be prescribed to some pills (I was), but it was the most memorable doctor’s appointment I’ve had.

I found out that the issues that I was having now was called Ventricular Tachycardia, which puts people at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. As a result to this, in order for them to protect me, they advised for an S-ICD to be placed inside me to act as a defibrillator in case my heart does stop. When I tell you that I almost blacked out from hearing that option, I was ready to fall. Lots and lots of tears between my mother and I in a doctor’s office the day after my 23rd birthday was not how I envisioned life to be, but it had to be done. My second surgery in one year after going 21 years of no surgeries at all. Long story short, I got it put in, told my anesthesiologist right before they knocked me out, “please take care of me” like it was a movie scene and here I am! I did face some depression after the surgery as this is a scary thing to be living through, but what’s most important about life is how you live with a smile on your face every day and live it like it is your last. That is my long story and how life can change in a blink of an eye, so appreciate every second of it as I am lucky enough to be still breathing on this amazing planet.

If you would like to support my story and the American Heart Association, please click here to donate as I will be participating in some heart walks soon! Feel free to comment and share your life changing story!

-Mike

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