Updated: Sep 25, 2019
I was starting my first week as a college senior the day I suffered a heart attack.
It was August 31st and my 22nd birthday was less than two weeks away. On that day, I had decided to work out with some quick push-ups before heading to class like often did either alone or with my roommates. Everything seemed fine until I went to stand to my feet after the last set. There was no pain, but there was discomfort in my chest, I had serious shortness of breath, and I felt a slight pull near my heart. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to make it to class, I emailed the professor my homework and tried to get relief from the pressure I felt with a hot shower and a nap before my next class that evening.
After lying down to rest for a few minutes I realized it was impossible to fall asleep. At this point it had been four hours with the pressure in my chest worsening. I was feeling a mixture of intense fear and disbelief and even began to think that I may die. Still, I was in denial and thought that the tightness I was feeling would subside eventually so I called a friend to meet on campus. I was figured that some fresh air and company would take my mind off of how I felt.
It just so happened that this was the year of the NBA lockout. One of the NBA Summer League games was being held on our campus so we met up to head over that way. Things got worse, though, and I began to vomit, my eyes had gotten extremely watery, and I had terrible nausea. I felt like I was going to pass out. Honestly, I had been told my entire life that this moment may happen. I was scared, but even more than fear I couldn't believe that this was actually happening. I refused to believe that this was it. I had had felt palpitations in my heart before so I just hoped it would pass.
I figured that maybe if I went to my 6 pm class- if I could get around people-I could ignore the reality of the situation. I was having a heart attack.
It’s hard to imagine, right? I sit in the front seat of the class for no more than a couple of minutes before I need to rush to the bathroom. Now, I have tears in my eyes. This is happening. I call a friend who would normally head to D.C. because now I think that if I am going to die I want to do it at home. She tells me she isn't headed that way so I call the one person I know is going to tell me what I don't want to hear and that is to go to the hospital: my mom.
When she answers and I tell her how I feel she immediately tells me to call the ambulance. I call as I'm walking out of the bathroom on my way back to my apartment.
The long walk back from campus was a blur after I called the ambulance and gave them the address. I was stumbling and feeling nauseous and light-headed. The shortness of breath had gotten worse and the tightness in my chest had increased. By the time I made it back to my apartment I was physically drained and mentally exhausted. I was listening for the ambulance praying for them to come as soon as possible. It had finally set in that I needed help as quickly as possible.
Five minutes later when the EMT called to ask for my apartment number I told them I would meet them downstairs, allowed them to help lay me on a stretcher.
I would find out that my aortic valve had ruptured; something that I had been told could happen, but that I avoided fully facing all my life.
My senior year of college would now forever be marked by this pivotal moment in my life, but it wouldn't stop my purpose. I would go on to come back for the Spring semester that year despite being told I should take the year off. Your adversity may not be the same as mine, but I hope that my story encourages you to remember that despite the adversity that you will face at some point in your college career you can succeed.