With personal experience, Wichita teen advocates for heart health and hopes to help others as a future cardiologist
Before Emily Meister knew her heart wasn't quite like most everyone else's, she knew she would be wearing a white coat one day. In fact, it was documented nearly 15 years ago.
"In pre-school we had a 'future career day' and my favorite joke to tell is that I knew I wanted to be a doctor on that day," Emily Meister, the Wichita teen said referring to a photo. "I guess I always knew I wanted to be a doctor."
Emily has spent more than a decade in and out of her cardiologist's office.
"I have PVCs, PACs and Mitral Valve Prolapse. PVCs are Premature Ventricle Contractions and PACs are Premature Atrial Contractions," Emily said.
Conditions she says she found out she had in elementary school and then others in high school.
"PVCs, in the most general context, means that my heart beats irregularly. That can mean that I have really bad chest tightness or my heart feels like it's fluttering and mitral valve prolapse means I have a tiny leak in my heart," Emily shared.
Emily tried to not let these conditions weigh her down in her earlier years, but it was tough, as you can imagine.
"When I was in 4th grade... I had to wear this super bulky heart monitor. The first time I had to wear it had to wear it for three months," she said.
The electrodes that go with the heart monitor... she was allergic to.
"I was putting those electrodes on top of chemical burns and I went to school like that everyday. There were cords hanging out of my shirt," Emily said.
An image of herself many saw, that she said would often bring her self-esteem down.
"I was like 'I don't want to do this any more... I hate this..' and then I got involved with the AHA. I saw my sister work with AHA. I was like 'Oh my gosh... I can advocate for this. I can make a difference with it," Emily said.
And so she does.... Emily is involved with the American Heart Association advocating for heart health.
"I could not do what I've done today without them (the AHA) and the ladies that work with me. They have also helped connect me with other people like me," Emily said. "Once you have that community you know there are others like yourself."
With the American Heart Association, she is helping others with awareness and by showcasing similar ways that keep her and her heart healthy, like healthy eating.
"An account called Healthy Heart Habits. I post different recipes...," Emily said on her social media project with the association.
Emily is hoping to go to college to become a pediatric cardiologist.
"I know for me personally, my cardiologist, Dr. Mo and all of his nursing staff made a great impact on deciding on what I want to be professionally. He is amazing and his office is amazing. That helped just drive me to know exactly what I want to do and help others in my situation," Emily shared. "You never know what someone is going through. I feel like if you are just being a good support to that person, no-matter what is going on, I feel like that can be impactful in so many ways," Emily said.
Emily says she is not alone in her journey. She has the support of her friends and family, as well as the American Heart Association. She adds there are others in her family who have a heart condition as well.