The following article was submitted by 18-year-old Lauren Tremblay, a young lady raised in the community of Barriere who is looking forward to attending the University of BC this fall.
Hello, my name is Lauren Tremblay.
I have been a patient at B.C. Children’s Hospital since birth. ‘Coins for Cardiology’ is a fundraiser I have started in hopes of giving back to the hospital that raised me.
To begin, here is my story.
I was born with a total heart block (bradycardia), which means my heart beat abnormally slow. I needed a pacemaker within a year of birth. My pacemaker enabled me to live life at a normal pace. My heart was paced by the pacemaker that was put in my abdomen and later moved to underneath my collarbone.
Growing up, I have attended B.C. Children’s Hospital (BCCH) twice a year for checkups and tests. Surgery occurs every five to six years; I have had five surgeries. Advanced technology has played a big role in the increased time between surgeries. In addition to the BCCH checks, I have an at home monitor in case I feel as though my heart is not beating at a safe rhythm.
In general, the pacemaker was rarely on my mind growing up. Although, I would be lying if I said I was never self conscious of the scars the surgeries left behind on my chest. Just in the past three years I have learned to embrace my medical condition – until this March.
In March I had quite the scare. I was in Vancouver visiting family and prom dress shopping. I was in the washroom of my grandparents home when I fainted. I suffered injuries of a bruised head and bitten lip from my fall. My papa is a family doctor. He checked me out and stated that the faint seemed to be a regular faint but said we would continue to monitor how I was feeling, in case I continued to feel dizzy.
I did continue to feel dizzy, for hours. Later in the day, my grandparents, mom, and I made the drive to BCCH emergency where I waited five hours for answers.
The emerge doctors performed an ECG on me. They told me I needed to stay in the hospital to be monitored as they found an irregular heartbeat pattern. I was very scared. I ended up staying in the hospital for five days and spent another week in Vancouver close to the hospital.
Emergency surgery was performed on me. During the faint I had experienced Ventricular Fibrillation. Ventricular Fibrillation or V-fib is when the heart muscle quivers instead of pumps. If prolonged, V-fib can result in cardiac arrest and following soon after, death.
My pacemaker was replaced with an Implantable Cardiac Device which is a pacemaker and defibrillator combined. The ICD is designed to shock my heart to pump if V-fib occurs again. I am incredibly lucky to have been in Vancouver at the time I was.
The last three months have been hard for me physically; the ICD is significantly larger than my pacemaker was. I have also found the situation to be mentally and emotionally taxing, I have quite bad anxiety about the topic. I have been working hard to return to a peaceful state of mind.
One of the ways I have been working towards peace is by investing time in projects like this; Coins for Cardiology.
The reason I decided to share my journey with others about my time at BCCH is because there are thousands of children across B.C. who are suffering from even more severe heart related conditions than me. I am in good health at the moment and feel the need to do whatever I can to help support other patients and families who are currently going through hospital stays.
I have been blessed to have made friendships and form bonds with many other patients. A few coins would mean so much to me and the other heart patients. All the money this fundraiser receives will go towards the Children’s Cardiology Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital. I will be giving the money directly to my heart team myself.
The donation boxes will be set up for the summer at the Barriere Visitor Centre at 4629 Barriere Town Road, as well as the Barriere Country Feeds Store. I hope you consider donating. If not a donation, spreading the word about this fundraiser, this amazing hospital and learning more is also a great way to make advances in our community!