I was diagnosed with Marfan's Syndrome when I was 2 years old. Because of this condition, I developed an aneurysm in my aorta. Since that time, my doctors monitored the growth of the aneurysm with ultrasound and EKGs.
Eventually it can get to the point where it's dangerous. Last year my doctors decided it was dangerous and that I needed an operation to have it repaired.
I had been treated at another hospital for about 16 years. Then my doctor left that hospital. So I saw a cardiologist in Chestertown, Maryland, who is affiliated with the University of Maryland Medical Center. He gave us Dr. Jamie Brown's name. We met him and really liked him, the facility and everyone there. So we decided to have the surgery at the University of Maryland Heart Center.
I had an aortic aneurysm repair on May 19, 2004. During my recovery I stayed in the cardiac wing. When I got home, it was sometimes frustrating because I was very tired. I really thought it was going to be a lot more difficult than it was. I was only on pain medications for two weeks after I came home. It was more like discomfort rather than pain. I just had to get my stamina back.
Before the surgery, I was restricted with physical activity. I wasn’t allowed to overexert myself. I couldn’t compete in sports in high school, or go on rides in amusement parks because of the stress it would have put on the aneurysm.
Now I can participate in sports. I work at a barn cleaning stalls for school, which is pretty demanding. I’m learning about this as part of my major, which is Equine Science and Management (science of horses). Now I can go back to riding horses. I did ride horses before but I was careful not to overdo it.
I used to have panic attacks just worrying about my heart. Now I don’t think about it anymore. I’ve just gotten in the best shape of my life and I feel like I can actually keep up with other people and work without getting tired and having to stop. Before, I could feel the strain in my heart — the heart gets tired from working so hard. After the surgery, my life changed for the better.