CW: Heart Disease
“Jackie, come up for lunch!” My mother called from the kitchen.
“Coming!” I stood up, felt my eyes go black, and found myself lying face down on the ground, my nose and mouth bleeding from the fall.
I was 13. That was the first time I felt real fear.
Hereditary heart disease ran in my family. (Unfortunately just in the women…)
Neither my grandmother nor my aunt could run without turning white in the cheeks and purple in the lips. I started experiencing piercing chest pains after gym classes in elementary school, but fainting in broad daylight struck me more than anything as a signal of imminent death. As I waited for my test results, my 13-year-old mind started imagining what it meant to be dead, what it meant to my 14-year-old boyfriend, and what it meant to my family. I wanted to attend the best high school in my city, to care for my parents at old age, and I decided that I had too much to lose. If I were only granted 4, maybe 5 decades of life at best, then I wanted to make them count.
What would you have done differently, if you knew that you might drop dead any time the next day? For me, the answer is nothing. I would still be taking notes religiously in physics classes, reading Harry Potter for the 12th time, and trash-talking about my English teacher with my boyfriend. Just like any other teenager would. Because life is worth living, however short it might be.
My test results came back: it was negative. I fainted because I was somehow malnourished from being a picky eater, and the chest pains I was experiencing were simply a result of intercostal neuralgia – something non-life threatening that goes away after a while.
That was the first time I felt so relieved to be a regular ol’ human, thankful to be alive.
(Sanjana told me to attach a fun picture to the blog post but unfortunately, the past 20 years being alive did not make me a creative person so I guess here’s a picture of me at the Horseshoe Canyon:)