Find Out How an Active 21-Year-Olds Heart and Body Shut Down Unexpectedly

Matt is Left Searching for Answers as to Why He Nearly Died

My heart ordeal began back in the summer of 2005. I was an active 21 year old working days and taking a few summer courses at night.

I was determined to graduate school, make the most money I could, and let nothing stand in my way. Family, dating, friends, church were not high on my priority list. I just wanted to finish school.

Gradually over several days, a pain in my stomach kept increasing in intensity; but I ignored it thinking it would go away. I had a fishing trip planned for the afternoon and I really wanted to go, so I picked up some stomach medicine at the drug store, which made me feel better, and packed my gear.

While out on the boat, the pain came back with vengeance.

My friend took me back to shore and I had to crawl out of the boat. Not sure what was going on, I called my parents and we went to see a doctor. Unfortunately, the tests came back with no definitive answers. They sent me home with some medicine and told me to take it easy for a few days – I should get better. The next morning, I woke up and the pain was still there. My parents decided I needed to go to the nearby community hospital. I was reluctant to go, but said goodbye to my dog and told her I would be back later that evening.

After three hours in the Emergency Department, the doctors still had no answers, but admitted me to the hospital. A number of doctors came in to exam me, but said nothing. My condition kept getting worse, and I was moved to ICU. This is when I get scared. I did not want to go to the ICU because that is where the really sick people are. A CT scan was ordered, and when they gave me the contrast liquid I was so thirsty I drank it quickly. I remember the nurse saying, I have never seen someone drink the contrast so quick and then ask for more. While taking me to radiology, my body began to shut down. They rushed me back up to the ICU, hooked me up to a ventilator, and then waited. I really dont remember much beyond this point, but I was told that a cardiologist came in to examine me and told my parents, There is nothing we can do for your son. He is going to die, and then he walked out of the room.

My family was in shock and could not believe this was the end. They call every doctor they could find and successfully transferred me to another hospital. The first two weeks were touch and go. They pumped me full of all kinds of medicines; every organ in my body was damaged. My kidneys and heart were affected the most. I needed kidney dialysis for a while. I was discharged 26 days later. In 2006, I experienced episodes of cardiac arrhythmia and had a pacemaker implanted.

My heart has eventually recovered and today I am a fairly healthy 26 year old man. Emotionally, it will take years to recover from this experience. The worst part is not knowing what happened to my body. The doctors diagnosed my mysterious illness as Congestive Heart Failure, but have never given me any more information on what was the cause or why my body crashed. I tell my story to bring an awareness to heart related diseases. These illnesses and diseases do not only affect the elderly any longer. People of all ages need to take better care of themselves and look at what is truly important. I have been changed. I have learned to value my family and friends over the desire to only make money and get ahead, but how I learned these lessons is something I hope to never experience again. I mourn losing my old self, but am thankful for what I have found.

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