To save one life is as if to save the world.

- The Talmud

No Stopping Those Roller-coaster Rides!

Michelle Rajpolt, Monroe, CT – 11 at time of event (2010)

Michelle Rajpolt Born with congenital heart defects means that Michelle has been sport restricted her whole life. She got her first cardiac device implanted as a toddler. She joined the zipper club before primary school, and she absolutely loves a roller-coaster ride. One Monday afternoon at school gym playing dodgeball, Michelle felt ill, took a break and collapsed.

On the wall next to her was an AED, the Art teacher had just certified as an EMT and arrived with the school nurse within minutes. Oxygen was administered, and after one shock, Michelle was revived. The paramedics took her away and the left the kids unsure just what had happened. Her best friends were very upset, and a little traumatized by the event.

When she was admitted to the local ER, her cardiologist was right there, and on duty. After administering stabilizing drugs they transported Michelle to the Manhattan hospital where she had her original surgeries, for tests and ultimately a new device. This time it included a defibrillator, since it was her first encounter with cardiac arrest.

For those of us familiar with recovery from SCA, there is a period of confusion and loss of memory. It is a result of the drugs and the possible lack of oxygenated blood reaching the brain. However, Michelle was not aware of this, and consequently she was perturbed that it appeared that someone had been completing her puzzles/drawing book during her stay in hospital!
"Mom, who did this?" She asked her mother one day, pointing to her book. "Did you let someone else use my book?"

A week later Michelle was playing saxophone in the school music concert. Her implant surgery wasn't yet healed, but that didn't stop Michelle. Not much does! So that brings us to the roller coasters.
"They told her she couldn't do roller coasters anymore," Sheryl, Michelle's Mom, said.

Of all the restrictions this one was going to cramp her style, big-time. After consultation with the cardiologist, an accommodation was made. After all quality of life is just as important, and so on a recent trip to Orlando, Michelle was permitted to ride the Disney World theme park attractions. However, after she safely survived the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster (see pic below) no one could stop her. Mom and Dad were completely sated with that first ride, but Michelle needed another 10 rides to quell her desire.

Michelle's roller coaster This was serious fun, the advertising reads; "With the force of a supersonic F-14, accelerate from a stand-still stop to high speeds—then swoop into 3 inversions... your body feeling the force from launch to loop at zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds."

-Jeremy Whitehead