Living With an Uncertain Heart

Paul Smith

Aiko Fukuchi, a Community High School junior, has had heart conditions from the time she was born. She has dealt with these problems well through her sixteen years, but now she is facing an even bigger issue.

About a year ago, Aiko Fukuchi started having new problems relating to her preexisting heart condition. Migraines, chest pains, and other symptoms led doctors to believe for a time that she had vertigo, or that a lack of salt in her diet was leading to a difficulty for retaining water. They’re not so sure what it is now.

The sudden change in her condition has led doctors to try to find the link between all of her symptoms. For now, there is nothing they can do, or tell Fukuchi to do. Uncertainty is at every step.

This uncertainty can be frightening. Fukuchi has been suffering from bouts of memory loss, forgetting whole units of Latin or math. She has to work harder and harder to keep up, and sometimes entire weekends or periods of days will be gone from her memory. The cause of this memory loss is called complicated migraines, which are not felt or sensed but result in temporary memory loss. The cause of these complicated migraines, however, is as yet unknown.

Fukuchi cannot even be positive of her own body. Two weeks ago she was inexplicably coughing up blood, and doctors cannot figure out why. A month ago, she could run fine. Recently when she attempted to, she almost collapsed after two blocks and her chest closed up, leaving Fukuchi gasping for breath. There is nothing she can do about any of these issues, doctors can think of nothing to tell her to do, no possible treatments.

With so many problems to deal with, and many new ones in the last two weeks, Fukuchi must show perseverance and hope for the future. Doctors have told her to sleep a lot, but with the work she must put in to combat memory loss and simply keep up as a high school junior, this is not always an option. Fukuchi finds comfort in meditation and her faith in doctors, who have been working hard at getting to the root of her problems and who she knows will not let her down.

Her mother, and her entire family, have been dealing with her heart problems for her entire life and Fukuchi has always relied upon them for help. She says that her recent problems have shown her who she can turn to, what friends she can trust to understand, and to care, and to help her when she’s feeling down. These friends and family members give Fukuchi hope for the future and a way to fight the hopelessness that some might feel.

For all the problems she has faced, Fukuchi has learned a lot about life through her heart problems. She has changed a lot in the past year. New problems have come up that have made her look again at her friendships, at who she can really rely on and what she can rely upon herself for. Plans for the future have also changed. Fukuchi, once wanting to be a cardiologist and help other people who have gone through thins similar to herself, is no longer sure that this is the career for her.

Fukuchi realizes now that one of the most important things to keep going and to know yourself is to have goals. Because of the uncertainty of her medical condition and thus her possible paths of life, she is unsure of her own goals. But Fukuchi is positive for the future, that she will find something she can do or some way that she will get through everything. In her own words, “If I find something I’m not meant for, then I can look, and find something else that I am meant for”.

For now, Fukuchi has a lot to deal with. Increased workload because of memory loss, uncertainty with her medical condition and even her bodies capabilities. However Fukuchi remains hopeful and optimistic for the future. She knows that she can figure it out, and deal with any problems she may face. Her memory loss, while recent, will stay with her for a while, but she is resilient in her belief that she can find a career, a lifestyle, that she can work with and deal with. She’s learned a lot in the past year, about friends and about life, and how to deal with both. She’s even learned about how to deal with her self, and from here it’s just figuring the rest of it out.