From Patient to Future Doctor

By Gerson Font, 9th Grade

In the medical field, there exists a slang word titled “Zebra.” No, not the animal. Doctors apply this term when an improbable diagnosis has been established when a more conventional explanation is more plausible. Sometimes, the unusual diagnosis, is the correct one.

I was in elementary school when I first began exhibiting symptoms. My heart would race, I would get dizzy, and I had to lay down; my mom immediately brought me to my pediatrician. He gave me a strong pat on my back and assured us it was stress. I was disconcerted, but I trusted my physician to make an accurate diagnosis.

Several years later, I was in middle school. Occasionally I would experience the episodes, every time they were stronger and increasingly worrisome. It reached the point where I would have the episodes weekly, sometimes various times a day.

My mother was concerned, I was anxious but of course, I would never admit that. I had to be brave. She took me to my doctor once more, luck was in my favor, that specific day, a different doctor was overseeing the clinic, she instantly noticed something was wrong. I was referred to a cardiologist.

The first appointment went smoothly, he was polite, social and had a sense of humor. My symptoms confused him as they didn’t really match up to any specific condition. Nevertheless, he saw the troubled expression on my mother’s face. He was almost convinced it was anxiety or stress, (he wasn’t entirely wrong, nearly two years later I was diagnosed with anxiety.), but he chose to issue me a 24-hour heart monitor.

The results were inconclusive. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary, more tests were run, and I appeared like a perfectly healthy teenage boy. My mom didn’t give up, she pushed, and a 1-month monitor was appointed.

Exactly 15 days after, the monitor recorded something. I did have a heart condition. The next appointment, as soon as he came in, he apologized. He told me I fooled him, that he really believed I was completely fine.

He gave my parents two options, either undergo surgery via a catheter which led directly to my heart or medicine for life. My parents and I determined surgery would be the best bet. The surgery was scheduled, and, in the meantime, I would be taking medication to regulate my condition.

Throughout that time period, from my appointment to the surgery, I ended up in the ER. The medicine I was prescribed did not work at all. Had some scary encounters but I pulled through. Finally, it was the day of the surgery. I wasn’t really nervous, it was strange, my heart was literally about to be burned from the inside out and I was calm, on Instagram like nothing was occurring.

Once I arrived at the hospital, thankfully they administered a sedative and I blacked out before I even reached the operation room. To make a long story short, the surgery didn’t work. There were various complications, I went into heart block, my heart rate fell, and they couldn’t complete the surgery. I was scheduled to get a pacemaker, but thankfully the heart block subsided, and I wouldn’t require it.

I was put back on medicine which still didn’t work, I ended up in the ER many more times, my record for the longest episode was more than 24 hours. My heart stopped multiple times, four times I believe, and I was at risk of sudden cardiac death. I wasn’t in the greatest place a person can be in.

Eventually, the right medicine was found. It worked; it still works to this day. Is it annoying that I have to wake up every day at 6 AM to take it? Yes, it is, is it better than being dead? You bet. The thing is, if I had to do it all over again, I would have the surgery, even if it didn’t work. My hospital visits allowed me to connect and form relationships with many nurses and doctors. Before all of this occurred, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Not a clue.

Now, I am certain that the medical field is for me. I am unquestionably not the same individual I used to be prior to all of this, but I suppose this is for the better. I relish life more. Determining the path to become a doctor will take time and significant dedication, but I’m glad I will have a direction in life. If I can strengthen and heal people the way my doctors did for me, this will be sufficient to satisfy me for a lifetime.

I’m grateful for everyone that was there for me, that helped me grow and develop as a person, especially to the doctors that accompanied me to where I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t be breathing. I can finally see the colors in my life.