By Kyley Hernandez -
I was eating the best Mexican food that I have ever had in my life with some people from California. I was a missionary for my church at the time and I started to not feel very good by the end of the meal. Panicked, my companion and I grabbed our stuff and made our exit before my delicious food would be the new design on their carpet. That was the day that started a medical journey that completely changed who I was.
For about three weeks after that day, I was couldn’t keep down food or even simple things like Gatorade for the life of me. I had been to several urgent care offices and doctor’s appointments trying to figure out my issue, so I could keep up life as normal. That’s when things started to get a bit worse, I already thought my life was close to the worst it could possibly be, and then I started to pass out multiple times a day. The doctors were confused and had no idea what could possibly be the issue that could cause fainting and stomach issues when all my tests were coming back with normal levels. I felt out of energy, depressed, and sick all of the time and since I was a missionary, I felt like I was letting everyone around me down.
I faced the possibility of going home from my missionary service early and that scared me beyond all belief. Most missionaries that I knew who went home early, even for medical reasoning, felt judged and like they had failed in some way. It was my biggest fear. There was one day in particular that I had received a phone call saying it would be my last day on the mission. That day was my rock bottom. I loved what I was doing out there, I loved speaking Spanish, and I loved the people I had been serving. I was confused and mad at my leaders for not giving me more chances, anxious because I had been away from my family for a year, and sad to be leaving what I considered to be my life’s calling at that point. It was the hardest feelings I felt like I had faced in my life. I spent hours in tears with my parents and siblings. My brother was trying to cheer me up with promises of watching the new Spider-man movie with me upon my arrival at home. By some miracle, they let me stay on my mission and things began to improve. They would actually stay good for the next 9 months with some help of the B12 vitamin.
Starting school at Southern Utah University was a blast. I was enjoying my classes and living life as a college student normally would. I made new friends, met my roommates, found out how college kids eat. It was all perfect in my eyes and then the issues started back up. I never had found answers on my mission to what I had or what was wrong and now it was taking
a toll on my social and academic life. I went to the doctor and was sent to a cardiologist. I got a Halter Heart Monitor glued to my chest for three weeks and the whole time, I felt like a failing student and a pain to my friends. They were having to drive me to appointments, make sure I was okay to do things, skip out on fun plans when I couldn’t physically handle things.
I finally got answers about what I had, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. I can solve the symptoms and take a vitamin every day but it doesn’t change the reality that I had been diagnosed with something that scared me. You might be asking now how this made me who I am. Before I started having these issues, I was arrogantly independent and stubborn. I didn’t like getting help from other people and I thought that nothing could stop me. After all of this, I
learned something far more valuable to me than independence. That kindness has more power than anything else in the world. The kindness from companions, members of my church, doctors, my friends, and my family changed my soul. Now I look for the people who may be struggling, make new friends, and try to find a way to make someone laugh every day. It was through being through the hardest times of my life, that I found out what true joy meant. To be able to spend time with the people that we love and that, although some of us may have medical issues, that it is the content of our character that matters. It is acts of kindness and small meaningful moments that allow us to truly enjoy life and share that joy with others.