At 18, you think you’re invincible…it was early March 2017 and I began to have really bad chest discomfort and felt out of real life. After 4 days of struggling, I decided to go to the hospital.

The initial exam was considered normal, and then they drew my lab work. Once the lab results came back, they informed me that my troponin was slightly elevated. They initially thought that it may have been a false positive, so they drew my blood again, and this time it came back that the result had more than doubled.

They decided at that point that it was best to transfer me to a more specialized hospital…

Once I arrived, they performed a cardiac MRI. The MRI showed borderline reduced systolic function of my heart muscle. They also suspected pericarditis due to the nature of the chest pain. I was diagnosed and treated for myopericarditis.

Here, I was a senior in high school, I had just been promoted to full time where I worked, and very nervous that I would die and not make it to graduation…

Fast forward to 2019…,I continued to have several issues since the initial onset. I finally went to Johns Hopkins after many cardiologists had told me that I was healed. A repeat MRI showed areas of inflammation on my heart muscle and the pericardium suggestive of chronic myopericarditis.

Looking back, I had Mononucleosis in 2017, and the doctors at Johns Hopkins speculate that this caused the acute episode.

In February 2020, I had Influenza B. I had a repeat MRI in July 2020 which still shows issues, but now in different areas of my heart muscle. The doctors at Hopkins believe that the flu is what caused the areas of new inflammation. I have my good and bad days, but I am thankful to be here to share my story.

My advice to everyone is if you know something isn’t right with your body, please get it checked out. Never think you are invincible due to your age or physical health.

This journey has made me learn that not all doctors know everything and that advocating for yourself will always get you to the suitable healthcare team you need.

If I hadn’t self-advocated and sought specialists in the disease, I’m not sure I would have ever gotten the answers I needed. I did, and despite having chronic myocarditis, I try to take the good as it comes and try my hardest not to let my condition define me.

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