Although it was years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time I heard that my heart was anything but normal. The doctor told me my condition was rare and that it was odd it hadn’t been discovered before since I had been born with it. There wasn’t a treatment to fix it, but there were ways to monitor and protect myself.
Years later, when I chose to protect myself by getting a pacemaker, doctors discovered I had yet another rare condition. While the first made my heart beat too slowly, the second one made it jump up into extremely dangerous high rhythms. So here I am, on my second implantable defibrillator that keeps me in sync every beat and once shocked me to save my life.
While I tried to wrap my head around the second condition, let’s just say I was a bit of a loud, emotional wreck and proclaimed myself “broken.” My wonderful doc, who happened to be an MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine grad, told me to instead think of myself as unique. Now, I consider myself supercharged instead of broken. We all have something; it’s how we deal with it that matters.
As difficult as the situation was for me, I’m glad I wasn’t diagnosed as a child. As an adult, I could handle things (well, minus the emotional outbursts at first). And, while my parents were still concerned, they didn’t have to deal with the incredible fear, worry and stress of managing major health issues of a small child. I cannot imagine the strength of parents of children who have unique illnesses or conditions.
Marley Berthoud is one of those children. Her symptoms were so unique that, at first, her doctors couldn’t even diagnose her condition. But, since they’re Spartans, they didn’t give up. Not only did they discover a new genetic syndrome, but they also developed a treatment that is working to improve Marley’s life. And they did it all in just two years. Read the incredible story Marley’s marvelous success to learn more about their work.
Those doctors took a unique problem and kept working until they could solve it. It’s the kind of determination that leads to researchers saving lives and making tomorrow better. It’s why research universities matter. It’s why Spartans matter.
They’re doing things like figuring out why the eastern monarch butterfly is disappearing. They’re finding new ways to treat chronic wounds with a high-tech bandage and improving health outcomes for low-income communities.
They’re studying important, timely topics, like what the pandemic has done to children and learning. William Schmidt, a University Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for the Study of Curriculum Policy in the College of Education, says, “Children have been robbed of over a year of the education to which they were entitled — negatively impacting the knowledge, skills and reasoning abilities that are critical in today’s society.” Read his Faculty Voice: How pandemic school-closures left children behind to learn more about the topic.
Omar Alejandro Posos-Parra, a graduate student studying entomology, was so determined to study the fall armyworm, a pest that has economic impact worldwide, he drove 2,000 miles from Mexico to MSU in three days. Read his Student View: From Mexico to MSU to learn about his journey and research.
Working at MSU allows me to learn about unique people and interesting things every single day. Our differences make us stronger together. We learn from each other and about each other and gain new perspectives about a host of things. Whatever it is that makes you unique, use it to make a difference. Consider it your superpower, and get out there to change the world. #SpartansWill