This week Erik Espinoza is our VERY deserving Fulton Homes Be KOOL Stay In School winner. CONGRATS!
My son Erik Espinoza is one of the strongest and lovable kids I know. Of course he is my son so I love him dearly, but he has had a really rough year and he has come out like a champ. Erik is 11 years old and is in the 6th grade at Saints Simon and Jude School. This is a very rigorous school in both academics and discipline. Erik has struggled since he was in the first grade academically and we had tried all sorts of accommodations for him ranging from Karate classes to staying in close contact with his teachers, trying to teach him organization skills etc. None of this seemed to be working. Since Saints Simon and Jude does not have the means for testing students academically, my husband and I decided we would take him on our own to a child psychologist to see if he had some sort of learning disability. It turns out he was diagnosed with ADHD. Since we had tried many accommodation for him besides medication and none of these accommodations had worked, we decided to discuss ADHD medication options with Erik’s pediatrician. She explained that the medication was a stimulant and because of this, asked him how his heart is. She asked him if he ever had chest pains or trouble breathing. Erik mentioned to her that on a couple of occasions when playing he had felt a little fatigued and dizzy and it seemed like his heart was beating real fast. The doctor was not sure if these were signs of him being out of shape or if it could be something more. She ordered an EKG for him because she wanted to just be sure that his heart was ok before putting him on any ADHD meds. When we took him for the EKG they discovered that he had an abnormal heart beat. The doctor then referred us to a pediatric cardiologist. This doctor did a stress test and Echocardiogram on Erik. Well…. It turns out Erik was diagnosed with Wolfe-Parkinson- White (WPW) Syndrome. This is the presence of an extra abnormal electrical pathway in the heart that leads to periods of a very fast heartbeat. This can become a very serious condition and sudden death can occur from it. The doctors immediately put him on Beta Blockers for his heart and recommended he get surgery as soon as possible. In April of this year, Erik underwent catheter ablation surgery to correct this syndrome. During the surgery, the doctors had complications doing the surgery the way they had planned. The cardiologist had to come out and speak to my husband and I to let us know about the complications and let us know that he was now in a position of possibly needing a pace maker if the surgery did not turn out the way they wanted it to. My husband and I were scared to death and just prayed that it would all work out. About 30 minutes later, the cardiologist came back out and said the surgery took the way he wanted it to and everything looked fine. He came out of surgery with a completely normal heart. This was a very scary and trying time, not only for the family, but for Erik as well. To make things more stressful, my husband and I went through a foreclosure and lost our house right before all of this happened with Erik. I know losing the house affected him greatly because this was the only home he ever knew. He was very sad when we had to move out, but he never complained and understood it was hard times for his dad and I. We are now living with my in-laws and trying to get back on our feet. All this, and he never once voiced his true fears about having to go through heart surgery or sadness about losing the house. He has persevered, and because of this, I am very proud of him.
Since his abnormal heart beat was fixed, the doctor said that he was now able to take the medication he needed to help with his ADHD. We started him on the medication at the beginning of this school year, and while he is still having some struggles academically, he is doing much better. He is able to focus during class and his confidence in himself when it comes to school has risen tremendously. He is also an all-around athlete and participates in football, basketball and baseball at his school. The teachers report what a wonderful kid he is and say that he never ever stops trying. They also say he is very respectful. All I can do is thank God every day that he is ok and healthy as can be now.
Thanks for hearing/reading Erik’s story. I would be forever grateful if you would please consider him for the $4,000 scholarship that is being offered by Fulton Homes.
If you know of a child that is deserving of being out NEXT Fulton Homes Be KOOL Stay In School qualifier, click HERE.