Sometimes it Takes Hardship to Find Your Purpose

 

I was that kid who never enjoyed high school. I would skip class just to go home and make sure my horses got exercised before I had to go to work. So when it came down to deciding what college I wanted to go to all I knew is that I wanted to college rodeo, I didn't care what degree I would graduate with. I completed my associates degree in agricultural science before I had changed my mind on what I actually wanted to do with my career. 

 It was the summer after my first year at college (2015), I ended up fourth in the region and could not be more excited to get back to Alberta to rodeo. I had went to two pro rodeos, I was at my first amateur rodeo with my family when my summer was about to change. You all have heard the saying that rodeo is the toughest sport on dirt, well you may not include barrel racing but I do now. I was about the third person out in the barrels. I was focused and ready to go. It was like every other run that I have made. As we headed to cross the eye I did not stop straight as the arena was in a tear drop shape. So I let my horse turn off to the left to come to a stop. Then next thing I know I was doing my best to roll out from underneath him. He had slipped in a spot of mud that got left behind from the water truck. It was a freak accident! I had one rule to myself when I started to play sports and rodeo, that was I never wanted to be carried out of the arena. That day I had to let go of my pride and get helped out of the arena. I tried to get up and walk out but fell right back down. I was sitting in the ambulance deciding if it was bad enough to go to the hospital by ambulance, when a roughstock rider had got into a wreck. I did not even think twice, we loaded me into the truck and headed to the hospital. After a hour and a half ride to the hospital with no medication, down bumpy gravel roads I finally got word that I was going to need reconstructive surgery. After undergoing a five hour surgery I came out with 68 staples, 16 screws, 2 plates, a rod and a bone graph. I had a spiral break through my fibula and tibia, broke my ankle, fracture my toes, and my big toe was completely out of place. I had to sit the whole summer out while I healed up and learned how to walk again.

It was not until December of 2015 that I had my second leg surgery. All the hardware that was put into my leg was starting to make its way out of my body. It got to the point that I couldn't slide a boot over my ankle. The surgeons removed all the screws and the plates, all they left was the rod. My whole second year of college was focused on regaining my confidence and strength in and out of the arena. By the time summer of 2016 came around I was ready to go for it and give it my all. Towards the end of the summer I came home from a long weekend of rodeos, and was awoken by a terrible shooting pain in my stomach. I told my mom and she kept telling my ‘its just the flu, you will be fine. Try to lay down and have a nap.’ Well the pain got so bad that I could not take it anymore so my dad to take me to the hospital. Hours later I was rushed to the O.R. to get my appendix removed. I had it removed Monday night and made sure I was ready to rodeo on Saturday.

Now its 2017, I just finished my first semester of nursing school and I could not be more excited to graduate. Just like every other college student I went home for Christmas. It was boxing day when I felt like I was going to pass out, my heart was racing, my ears where ringing, I was dizzy, and was having issues with my vision. I went straight to the emergency room, the doctors ran some tests on my heart and took blood. I walked out feeling fine but with the news that I had an arrhythmia, which is an irregular heart beat. For someone who was not born with a heart condition this would be nothing to worry about, but since I was born with a aortic stenosis and a leaky aortic valve this was serious. My aortic valve had two sides while a normal valve has three, my valve also regurgitated blood. And on top of that the valve had gotten narrow and very thick over the years. We made a trip to my cardiologist just play it on the safe side. I was told that I would not be allowed to go back to school in Oklahoma, I was not allowed to ride, I was not allowed to exercise, but I was put on medication to help control the rhythm of my heart. I was told I was on the top pf the list to get my aortic valve replaced. My surgery was booked for February 13, 2017.  From the beginning of January right up until my open heart surgery I did a lot of research about what type of valves they use, and what to expect after surgery. My valve was replaced with a bovine valve, the valve is a little on the bigger side so that I will be able to continue with rodeo. I went into surgery at about 6 AM, and all I remember is talking to the nurses in the O.R. then waking up in ICU. I woke up with an IV in my right wrist, an IV in the left side of my neck, an IV in my right arm, a chest tube, wires connected to my heart, a catheter, and my throat was very dry. I was told later that my heart went into a funny rhythm again which resulted in them having to use the paddles, and after they took the breathing tube out in ICU my breathe/minute went down to about 5 (16 is normal). I spent two days in ICU and 3 days on the cardiac floor. Its now been about 60 days since my open heart surgery and I am left with a scar on my chest, more energy, and a lot more positivity towards life.

 After being in the hospital for 5 days with nurses that always had a smile on their face, who were ready to help whenever you needed it, and always made you feel comfortable at one of the lowest times- that is why I want to be a nurse. I want to have an impact on someones life. I wanted to make to people feel comfortable and know that they aren't alone. So when you get asked why you picked the degree you did, do you have a reason? 

RodeoEmily Bomgardner