Taking Heart

When it comes to having to scour the universe for interesting people to write about, I somehow always end up writing about people who I personally know. Now I’m not saying that the people around me aren’t worth calling ‘interesting’.  In fact, I think the people whom I’ve known practically my entire life are the most interesting sort of individuals I’ve ever met.

On that note, I guess it’s safe to officially open my story with this little introduction right here:

Sean has always been a healthy and fairly active young boy. Unlike most teenagers, he isn’t too quick to opening his laptop or computer upon waking up. Instead, the first thing he grabs is his guitar and plays a few tunes before changing into a pair of basketball shorts and heading out to play basketball as part of his morning routine.

As his sister, I’ve always known that Sean was a fighter. He’s struggled with asthma practically his entire life and witnessing how he was able to beat asthma and live an active and healthy lifestyle is sure proof of his amazing resilience. His condition never once stopped him from playing badminton when he was 7 or soccer when he was 9 or even basketball when he was 10. Even if he’s never once had any sort of proper training and has never even once went to a sports clinic of any sort, Sean’s amazing physical prowess has stunned both my parents and his doctors until now.


Sean, age 9, wearing an over-sized white shirt during a badminton meet

I guess this is why it came as a shock to everyone that Sean, my 16 year-old younger brother, was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse after suffering from arrhythmia attacks for a couple of nights in a row.

So before anything else, allow me to define Mitral Valve Prolapse:

Apparently, Mitral Valve Prolapse or MVP is a heart condition in which the heart’s mitral valve doesn’t work well due to its malfunctioning flaps. Usually people diagnosed with MVP hardly seem to experience any of its symptoms and might not even be aware that they have MVP. More often than not people who have MVP would dismiss its symptoms as mere chest pains, heart burns, or palpitations caused by caffeine.

It really didn’t seem like much of a big deal to Sean at first. Despite getting rushed to the hospital almost every single night because of his arrhythmia attacks, he still went on to living his life like he usually did. I remember him telling me that nothing changed. The only thing that was different was his change in diet which he didn’t really quite enjoy.

“If there’s one thing I hate about having MVP is that I can’t drink iced tea anymore because I’m not allowed and I love iced tea!” he told me.

Incredibly enough, Sean never once commented on how MVP might have hindered him from playing sports. When I asked him how he felt about getting booted out of his high school basketball team after a fainting spell during a game, he merely shrugged his shoulders and said that it never really bothered him.

“MVP will never stop me from playing and enjoying basketball. Honestly, it’s the reason why I’m so into sports nowadays. I need to keep fit because I do have MVP,” he said.


A recent photo of Sean (sporting a blue shirt and black basketball shorts) anticipating the ball during a basketball game

Sean has also confessed that his fear was more centered on acquiring superficial injuries while playing rather than experiencing an arrhythmia attack on court.

“I hardly worry about fainting during a game. If I do, then that would mean allowing MVP to win over me,” Sean remarked.

Aside from sports, Sean is also quite talented in the field of music. He has been playing the drums since he was 11 and has taught himself to play the guitar when he was 14. His skill on the guitar has even earned him the spot as lead guitarist of his high school band. He is also a self-proclaimed computer whiz which might have stemmed from his love for computer gaming.


Sean playing the guitar at school

Being Sean’s older sister has truly been quite an honor. To be honest, I’ve never realized just how much he’s grown until now. From a childish asthmatic kid to a dependable and mature young adult, he’s really come a long way. My brother’s passion for sports is inspiring and the way he doesn’t allow his condition to stop him from playing is just truly awesome.  

I just hope and pray that despite the MVP or anything that may come his way, he’ll still be the same little kid I’d comfort with a hug whenever he gets too afraid of the dark.