Change of heart

Danielle Deraleau, Staff Writer

     During routine football drills, senior Brett Arnold suddenly felt dizzy. He felt his breath coming short, and his heart pounding in his chest. As he rounded a corner while doing laps, he could barely stand up.

     “I couldn’t breathe, and I just collapsed on the field during practice,” Arnold said.

     Coach Chad Faith immediately ran to Arnold, checked his pulse, and attempted to regulate his breathing.

     “He was very red and his pulse rate was much too high to be counted,” Faith said. “He showed all the signs of heart trouble.”

     When Arnold had cooled off sufficiently, Faith had him taken to the nurse’s office, where she determined that heart trouble was in fact the issue. He was given time to rest and drink water before being taken to a hospital to be fully evaluated.

     Arnold required a cardioversion, a medical procedure that helps slow and stabilize an abnormally fast heart rate. He had his surgery two weeks after the accident in a hospital in Austin.

     “Everything happened so fast,” Arnold said. “All of a sudden I had to get to Austin and have this surgery done, when I thought I was fine.”

     Throughout his procedure and two month recovery, Arnold said that what helped him the most were the people around him.

     “My family and friends really supported me and helped me get through,” Arnold said. “It made the whole experience much more bearable.”

     Arnold’s teammates offered their help by being supportive to Arnold’s parents, as well as providing donations to help cover their medical bills.

     “The team was behind him all the way,” Faith said. “We called his parents and checked on him throughout his surgery and welcomed him back to the team when he was able.  He was limited for a while, but was never any less of a team member.”

     Since his recovery, Arnold said that the experience had caused him to be more conscious of his own limitations, and has been eating healthier. He feels that although the experience was overwhelming, it’s caused him to be more aware of his own health.

     “I just look back and think “wow’,” Arnold said. “It’s a lot to think about, but it helped me become healthier in the end.”

     Despite his accident, Arnold hasn’t been deterred from being involved in sports. Since his full recovery, he has been participating in mixed martial arts, and

     “It’s really been a blast getting back into athletics,” Arnold said. “But I make sure to stay well-hydrated and give myself time to cool down.”

     Through his recovery, Arnold believes the experience that came from his episode has helped him more than hurt him, and that he is still the same person, if not without a little more understanding of his own health.

     “It was a life-changing experience,” Arnold said. “I really learned a lot from it.”