Overlea heart patient Finn perking up, making progress

On High Schools

High Schools

October 14, 2004|By MILTON KENT

SOMETIME YESTERDAY morning, Megan Finn decided she wanted a Frappuccino, one of those cold coffee drinks that is so popular among the teenage set.

Considering that Megan is just 2 1/2 weeks removed from suffering a massive heart attack that nearly claimed her life, her doctors thought caffeine this soon probably wouldn't be such a great idea, so her dad had to walk a few blocks to find a milkshake.

Megan, an Overlea field hockey player who collapsed before a practice on Sept. 25, was removed from a ventilator Monday night and has been out of her bed at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

So far, Megan has been standing occasionally, as well as fielding visitors in a wheelchair, gradually reacquainting herself with muscles that haven't been used in a while.

If all goes well today, Megan, 16, will be fitted with an internal defibrillator and could be in a private room at the hospital by the weekend.

"Right now, I'm feeling good. I'm ready to get out of here [the ICU] soon," Megan said yesterday.

Megan has been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, meaning the heart muscle becomes too thick to function properly. The abnormality, present in about two to five people out of every 1,000, tends to manifest itself in adolescents.

Megan, who lost consciousness and had to have her heart shocked back into rhythm, is recovering at a pace far quicker than might be expected.

"She's moved faster in the last couple of days than a lot of kids do," said Suze Palinski, a pediatric resident at the Maryland Medical Center. "She's really been taking big strides. I'll bet it's frustrating for her because she feels like, `I'm awake now; I want to go play and be outside.' But she's really moved along nicely."

Since she began breathing on her own Monday, Megan has been a source of seeming boundless energy. She sleeps little, between the excitement of cheating death and all the sleep she got after arriving at the hospital.

Her parents, Joe and Joan Finn, have continued the vigil they've been keeping in the family visiting room on the seventh floor of the hospital.

However, they've been joined by members of Megan's immediate family, who take turns sitting with her during the night so that she's not alone.

"She looks 100 percent better than yesterday, and 100 percent better than the day before," said Josie Schuman, Megan's fraternal grandmother.

That said, this is only one step on the way to recovery. Megan will have to undergo physical therapy. The defibrillator will be present to ensure that if she suffers another attack without someone around, that her heart can be shocked back into rhythm.

Last night, Megan saw her field hockey coach, Jenna Zava, for the first time since the heart attack. It was Zava, a physical trainer as well as Megan's English teacher, whose fast action and knowledge of CPR saved Megan's life that Saturday morning. She breathed for Megan and did chest compressions until ambulances could arrive to take her to the hospital. Her teammates haven't seen Megan yet but might be able to visit once she moves into a private room.

So far, Megan doesn't remember much of what happened that day, and her parents have shared little in the way of details, preferring not to overwhelm her with too much information, beyond that she has been out of circulation for more than two weeks.

"Once we see how strong she gets here, then we'll know what our next course is," said Joe Finn. "But everybody has high hopes because she's such a positive kid. We're willing to take the long road with short steps."

Medical insurance being what it is, Megan's recovery will not be inexpensive, and efforts are already under way to help the Finn family defray what will almost certainly be significant costs.

A car wash has been held, and there are plans for a silent auction. A local restaurant may donate some of its proceeds during a night in January for Megan, and a local country singer, Tyler Daniel, is dedicating the second set of his performance tomorrow night at the American Legion in Havre de Grace, passing around a bucket to take in donations.

Donations can be made to the Megan Marie Finn Fund, c/o Overlea High School, 5401 Kenwood Ave., Baltimore, MD 21206.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.