My Riley-inspired purpose: "I'm supposed to do bigger and better things."
May 22, 2014
Topics: Heart (cardiology)
My experience at Riley Hospital for Children is one that I will never forget. I still remember walking in for the first time to visit with Dr. Joyce Hubbard. The children were so happy, and the doctors, nurses and aides were so friendly and caring that it was almost contagious.
DR. HUBBARD’S EXPERTISE
When my family and I met with Dr. Hubbard, I was fifteen years old and was diagnosed with the heart condition supraventricular tachycardia (SVT). Dr. Hubbard called my family and I back to a room and we sat down with our list of questions in hand. She explained how a normal heart worked and then explained how my heart worked. I still have one of the pictures Dr. Hubbard drew that described the electrical conduction that goes on in a heart. It may have seemed simple at the time, but to a 15-year-old, it painted a clear picture of why my heart at times races at 280 beats per minute.
Dr. Hubbard told us I would need to have a cardiac ablation done to correct my heart. The night before the procedure, I couldn’t sleep one bit. I was tossing and turning, thinking about what could happen, and asking myself, “Will I be okay?” My family and I got to the hospital early in the morning on November 13, 2006 in preparation for a new beginning. I was ready to be able to run again, play baseball with my friends, and even walk down the halls at school without the fear of my heart starting to race.
I remember waking up after the procedure and seeing my parents’ faces. They were smiling but something still wasn’t right. I later found out that my condition was much more advanced than Dr. Hubbard had planned for. She was able to locate the problem but wasn’t able to correct it. She explained the area she wanted to get to was much deeper in the heart and would need more advanced equipment to correct the problem.
I was discharged the following day. Dr. Hubbard wanted to put me on a beta blocker to see if this would decrease or even stop the episodes of tachycardia I was having. At first it seemed to help, but after about a month I started experiencing palpitations more often, and I was having difficulty breathing and experiencing dizzy spells and blackouts. After one episode, I was taken to our local hospital and cared for, but as we were pulling out of the hospital parking lot I experienced another episode. This was the breaking point. The next call the ER doctor made was to Riley Hospital to let them know he was sending me there.
When I got to Riley the second time, it was almost a relief. I didn’t have to worry about where or when I was going to have my next episode. One nurse I will never forget from the cardiac unit was Tina. Tina had a sense of humor that made me, my parents, and even her co-workers laugh.
One day, I was feeling extremely depressed because I had been away from home for so long and wasn’t able to go out with my friends to do normal kid things. Tina had apparently found a giant syringe on the unit and decided to fill it with water. She took her water-filled syringe, walked by my room, and before I could turn my head to see who it was, I was shot with a stream of water. I had never laughed so much in my life.
Another time, I ended up riding in a little red wagon with Tina pulling me all through the cardiac unit. I was stopped by the mother of another patient on the floor. She looked at me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You made my son so happy when you rode past his room in that wagon.” Little moments like this make us appreciate what we have and who we get to spend our time with.
Another member of the hospital who I will never forget is a cardiac unit aide named Venia (right). She kept telling me, “When you get out of here, you and I are going to go out for a big, juicy, T-bone steak.” One day when I went back for a follow-up appointment, I saw Venia sitting at the desk, went up to her and asked, “How ‘bout that steak?” She looked up and I was immediately wrapped in her arms as she gave me a big hug.
A RILEY-INSPIRED PURPOSE
As I sit here today reflecting back on my experience I still can’t believe how much I went through during that short period of time. After my second stay at Riley I had two more cardiac ablations, and I’m doing well today. I decided I want to be like those people who impacted me. I want to have Dr. Hubbard’s expertise, Tina’s personality, and Venia’s heart to make a difference in other children with severe illnesses or disabilities. I am now two semesters away from completing my degree as a nurse.
I truly believe God allowed me to battle through some hard times when I was younger because I’m supposed to do bigger and better things.
I am forever grateful for the people of Riley Hospital. Because of them, I learned how to be more optimistic, I learned to be more humble, and above all, I learned how strong young kids can be.
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