I was 13 years old and was running sprints for my high school girls' basketball team. All of a sudden, I felt really dizzy and fainted to the floor. The next thing I remember was coming in and out of consciousness in the girls' locker room. "Rachel*? Rachel? Hello???? Stay with us!" My mom got the phone call and she rushed over to get me. I went straight to my pediatrician's office and started having trembles and shakes. Nobody knew what to do, nobody knew what was wrong. Again, I was going in and out of consciousness. I remember hearing the sirens of the ambulance that picked me up from my pediatrician's office, rushing me to UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital to receive the proper care that I needed.
I woke up in the hospital-- scared, confused, worried. "Where am I?? What happened???" This wasn't the first fainting episode I had, so the doctors wanted to do extra tests to figure out why I kept fainting. I needed to be kept overnight, monitored to make sure I didn't have any other episodes.
My heart was monitored with a catheter for 24 hours, a process called a cardiac catherization. Turns out, I had Long QT Syndrome, a heart condition that delays the repolarization of my heart following its heartbeat. I had to quit sports, and all vigorous activities. Those aren't the words a 13 year old wanted to hear.
However, when I was in the hospital, I had a positive life changing experience. I had a roommate who was close to me in age, Jackie* and Jackie and I clicked from the first instance we met. Jackie turned out to become one of my best friends, even though she lives in another city than I do. We see each other at least once a year and understand each other better than most friends do. You see, although we only met for one night that first night I was in the hospital, even 10 years later, at the age of 23, I speak to her constantly and treat her like my own sister.
I never thought I would meet my best friend at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, but it turns out that I did and it was one of the greatest experiences I have ever encountered in a hospital setting. Now, I try to give back by volunteering in the Children's Hospital. I try to spread the idea that good things, too, can happen in hospitals. I hope to one day study at UCLA School of Nursing to become a nurse, and eventually be a nurse at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital, where I truly feel is the place that "my life began."
So, all in all: Thank you UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital for helping me find one of the greatest friends I will ever meet in life, and for helping me realize that my passion in life involves nursing!
*Names in story have been changed to protect privacy of patients.