Francesca Maretic

Living with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome

My name is Fran and I’m an average girl except for the fact that at the moment I have Wolff Parkinson White syndrome (WPW). WPW means I have an extra pathway in my heart and sometimes my heart will beat really fast because of this.

The first time I found out about my condition was on my Prom night (Friday 13th – talk about unlucky!). My friend and I got ready and we were really excited! We left her house and then we had to face a huge hill, in high heels!

Anyway, we met up with our dates and we walked to the Prom. When we got there I felt fine – we all started dancing and having some food and drink and we were having a great time! Then about ten minutes before the end of Prom I felt so tired! I couldn’t understand why. Everyone was calling me over to dance and I did, but I was shouting “I’M SOOO TIRED!!” By then it was the end of Prom. I said goodbye to everyone and set off to my mum’s car to go home. I got in the car and that feeling came back, “Mum, I’m sooo tired. I have to go to sleep when i get home.” “Why, what’s wrong?” My mum said. “My heart, it feels weird – it feels as if its going 150 mph!” – And wow, I wasn’t wrong.

I got home and just lay on the sofa. My mum knew something was wrong so she called the doctor, who called the ambulance! I was so scared. I had never been in an ambulance before – what were they going to do to me?! Then they turned up. “Hi Francesca, what’s wrong? How are you feeling?” said the paramedic. “I just feel so tired and my heart feels like its going really fast!”

They took my pulse and listened to my heart. “Darn thing, why wont you work? Silly cheap NHS stuff!” said the first paramedic. There was another medic doing something else, taking my pulse. “No that’s right what your hearing!” “OK we need to take her to hospital straight away!”

My mum had no time to prepare, she was running around trying to get her things together. I went into the ambulance and on the way to the hospital there was a traffic jam. Because of the ambulance everyone was staring at me – it was like a thousand eyes were watching me.

When we got there the nurses wired me up and then I saw what my pulse was 250 per minute! I couldn’t believe it – I knew something was wrong as I did some work in school and knew my heart was supposed to go at 70 per minute. There were two people trying to inject each hand. One of them got the needle in but smashed a bottle by knocking over the trolley. The other couldn’t find a vein to put the needle into – it took him three times to get it right! Then I felt the drug go into me and it felt like I was about to pass out, except I didn’t and my heart went back to normal! I was so relieved. All I can remember after that was being in a bed falling to sleep.

Since then I have been on tablets called atenalol and they make me really sleepy. I have been feeling so ill lately, but I will soon be having an operation so it will all be over! And I’ve got my great friends and family helping me along the way!

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