Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” In March of 2014, I woke up abruptly in the middle of the night to a strange beating of my heart.  It was almost as if I could perfectly feel and hear every single heart beat, and it kept me up for hours. Although this irregular beating continued to happen night after night, I thought nothing of it. A few restless nights later, I could barley make it to my next class without fainting. A teacher quickly grabbed me and sent me to the nurse. I did not once have the intentions of going home.

My mother immediately took me to my pediatrician. The doctor found premature beats, common to most people, but wanted to investigate further just to be safe. The first cardiologist I visited preformed an echocardiogram and an electrocardiogram. The doctor also checked my height, weight, and blood pressure. After preforming all of my tests, everything seemed to be normal. As my mother and I were getting ready to walk out of the office, the doctor calls us back in. With a dissatisfying look on her face, she reports to us that she has noticed an abnormal thickness of my heart. Being a dedicated distance runner all year round, the doctor was unsure if the thickness was caused by my intense training, which is common for athletes, or if it was genetic. The only way to determine the difference was to stop training for at least six months, then preform the same tests once more. If the thickness disappeared, it was from running and I would be fine. However, if it wasn’t, I would have to stop running for the rest of my life.

Before I had the chance to say anything, tears began streaming down my face one after the other. As the doctor saw the sadness in my eyes, she referred me to a few to two more cardiologists. As a dedicated distance runner, not running for six months would not fit into my schedule, and it wasn’t something I would ever consider, either. So, the following week I was taken to another cardiologist in my area who preformed a stress test on me. He made me step on a treadmill with electrodes taped all over my body. I began walking at a slow pace, then running vigorously up a hill. After what felt like forever, the doctor told my mother and I that the results looked great.

The next week I went to my final cardiologist. He preformed more tests on me and as I lie on the bed for over two hours, the anticipation killed me. The doctor returned with the test results and began to tell me the thickness wasn’t as bad as they thought; besides that, there is a small leakage in my aortic valve, but no major setbacks. He told me the best thing for my heart is to keep running, so I listened to him. Having this scare opened my eyes and made me value running so much more than before. Without running I wouldn’t have the courage, endurance, strength, and determination I have. I wouldn’t be who I am today.

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