I'm currently 15 years old, but I've already had 3 sudden cardiac arrests and I now have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator inside me. I was a competitive swimmer since the age of 8 but now I can never swim or do any other sport competitively ever again. It all started in 2007, where my symptoms were mistaken for my asthma. I was constantly tired, sick, and weak, and we had no idea why. I was wheezing all the time, and we tried every medication possible for asthma. Finally, in November, my doctor did an x-ray on my lungs, but found out that my heart was a little bigger than normal. She sent us to see a cardiologist, so the next month we scheduled our appointment. It was the day right after my last swim meet, which I didn't know at the time, when we went to see the cardiologist. She did an ultrasound on me, and found out my heart function was around 17%! She was so shocked and said usually people would already be staying in the hospital for this poor heart function. I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which means my left ventricle is enlarged and has a hard type pumping blood throughout my body. But I looked perfectly fine except for some symptoms, most likely due to my strong, fit body from swimming. She prescribed to me lots of medication, which I'm still taking to this very day, along with others. We hoped this would only last for a couple months, but months turned into a year and we had to face the fact that my heart disease was chronic. My family was devastated, and I was so scared and heartbroken that I would never be able to swim again. But at the beginning of my freshman year, I had a sudden cardiac arrest and almost died if not for the fact that we were at an Art and Wine festival, and luckily there was a paramedic team right across the field. They had to shock me twice, and I was immediately driven to a hospital. When I woke up in the ICU, I had no idea what happened and didn't remember any of it. I had to stay at the hospital for a whole month, and my doctors decided to get the ICD implanted in me. It was an incredibly hard time for me and my family, but I eventually got through it. The next year in November, I got another sudden cardiac arrest, but luckily my ICD did it's job and shocked me. I stayed in the hospital for a week, and was added a new medication. Two months later, in January, the day after I was cleared to swim with my high school swim team just for exercise but not to compete, I had another cardiac arrest. Again, they made me stay in the hospital for a week (right before finals week in my school!!) and again added a new medication.
So as of now, I hadn't had a cardiac arrest for 8 months, and I hope to keep it that way. My heart function I'm telling you my story because I want to inform you that heart disease can happen to anybody in any age, including kids. My life was forever changed, and heart disease didn't even run in my family, apparently I got this from a virus! I want people to be happy with what they have, be glad that they can even exercise and do sports, and eat healthily and exercise. I plan to go into medical research for my career to make sure people don't have to go through what I had to, and hopefully find a cure for my disease.