My name is Victoria Karl and I live in St. Louis, Missouri. In August 2017 I was diagnosed with Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, this is my story:
I was about to enter my second year of high school and I needed to get a physical to be able to start the school year and to be allowed to participate in color guard. My mom took me to an urgent care to save a little money and there the doctor heard a significant heart murmur. The urgent care doctor suggested I be followed up by my primary doctor. I was able to get an appointment rather quickly and, after I was examined, my primary doctor set up an appointment for me with a cardiologist for the very next day. This scared my mom because nothing happens fast at the doctor unless it’s an emergency. The cardiologist did a full work up, EKG and echocardiogram. I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). It was a lot to take in as we discussed physical activity restrictions and medication I would have to take all my life.
Fast forward a year, my condition had gotten worse. I had to quit color guard, I was having trouble getting to class on time, going up the stairs at school, and just having a normal life as a 16-year-old girl. In July 2018 an MRI was ordered to be able to see every part of my heart. It was found that the obstruction had increased, and I was going to need surgery. The whole month before my surgery I didn’t want to do homework, didn’t care about school, and found relationships with my friends difficult because of my condition. November 2018, I had a Septal Myectomy. I was so blessed to have my parents, who were at the hospital everyday caring for me and keeping me smiling. After the surgery I was home bound for a month to reduce the risk of infection. The months after the surgery I spent a lot of time doing physical therapy and focusing on getting to a place where I could join the color guard again. By the beginning of the next season, my senior year, I was able to rejoin the color guard and even became one of the captains!
After highschool I continued on to college. I am 20 years old and in my junior year at Southeast Missouri State University, studying psychology in hopes of helping children in hospitals the way I was helped during my time. I am having fun enjoying independence at college and I have a thriving crochet business. I am thankful for my life after my septal myectomy and even more thankful to be part of an amazing community of survivors and share my HCM journey to help others as a volunteer for the HCMA.
Please share this story to bring awareness to Heart Month!
To learn more about accessing care at a HCMA Recognized Center of Excellence, go to https://4hcm.org/center-of-excellence/.
To learn more about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), go to https://www.4hcm.org.
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