Pre-med student discovers heart condition
Why echocardiograms are important
My name is Mia and I’m a pre-medical student at TCU. During my freshman year I volunteered at Cook Children’s for a heart screening for high school athletes. I spent the day doing echocardiograms and teaching parents CPR. We made a point of reminding them that knowing CPR is vital because having a heart condition is not visible to the outside and you never know who suddenly needs help. Ironically this hit closer to home than I could have guessed.
At the end of the day all volunteers were offered a chance to take our own ECGs. I got a knot in my stomach but I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, having told everybody how important screening is and then not doing it myself. I took my ECG and showed it to the cardiologist from Cook Children’s in order for him to tell me I was allowed to go home for the day. After this nothing went like it was supposed to.
I saw it in his face right away. It was like a sledgehammer to the head. This was not how I planned my day. I only took the ECG so I would know that nothing was wrong. There were no other options.
The cardiologist asked me to sit while he explained everything very carefully. I was diagnosed with a very rare but potentially deadly heart condition called Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW).
The only feeling was disbelief; I never thought it would have been me. It took me several days to fully grasp the fact that I had been diagnosed with something that had gone unnoticed my whole life. I had incredible support from the people closest to me and could not have gone through this without them, but I opted out of telling my peers about what had happened. I felt that if everybody knew, it might make it real. I could not allow myself to believe the truth at that point.
I had a heart ablation this summer and I was declared healthy a few months later. Now I notice the difference every day. I’ve had strange palpitations as long as I remember but I never thought anything was wrong. That’s how my heart had felt my whole life; I thought it was normal. It was not until they were gone that I could feel how a heart is supposed to feel.
I go back to that day at Cook Children’s a lot and wonder how my life might have been different. I might still not know. I would have been happy not knowing. I might never have known; but what if I would have found out after it was already too late? There is a chance that I would never have had any problems, but there is a chance that waking up that morning saved my life. I’m happy that I don’t have to guess between the two because now I know which option I chose: I chose to do something about it.
For more information
Mia Eriksson wrote this blog for us in 2013. We thought Heart month would be a good time to revisit her important story. Cook Children's Fort Worth and Arlington locations are offering FREE sports EKGs during the month of February. with a referral Heart conditions in children and young adults go undetected too often. Early detection could save your child's life! Learn more about Cook Children's Heart Center by clicking here.