Tag Archives: USATF


Breckenridge CO, 2018

Let me catch you up.

Hey guys. I took a break from Facebook and my blog site back in 2017, but now I am back. The last two years have gone by so quickly. Now, I am back and will provide a quick, detailed re-cap.

During my Facebook sabbatical, I became hooked on Twitter. Here is a tip: If you are going to take a break from social media, make sure it is an all or nothing proposition. Also, because my Twitter feed automatically shares to my Facebook page, no one knew that I was NOT on Facebook. So, yes, my Facebook sabbatical was not without its challenges.

I did go back onto Facebook after Lent in 2017. Meanwhile, I had so many things happening. I was going through my fitness makeover. My family decided to reinstate our yearly family reunion. I was continuing my doctoral studies, and Arielle was preparing to graduate from high school. Then off to college. That was quite a lot.

Transitioning Arielle to college while preparing Benjamin and me to a life without Arielle was quite the experience. Soon after the family reunion in June, I jumped right into prepping for college. Purchasing towels, sheets, storage, cleaning supplies, and school supplies, I alternated between bouts of excitement and mid-level depression with the whole situation. Shopping with Arielle is always a grand experience, and prepping her for college by reliving my college experience provided the most significant point of connection for us and solidified our sisterhood.

Driving Arielle to college, in Missouri, was another bonding experience that I will forever cherish. I moved her into her dorm and had the loneliest drive I have ever experienced back to Texas. I am so grateful to my great friends that kept me company along the way. Sandra and Glennis took turns talking to me for hours as I drove through the scenic Midwest on my way back home.

After returning home, my next trip would be to San Diego for my doctoral residency. This residency was in November and was the second and final required gathering for the course. I met so many great people and had fun learning from the faculty of how to get this doctoral process completed as efficiently as possible. Walden knows how to do events RIGHT!


The year 2018 was uneventful because I was plugging away at my studies. I was getting close to completing my proposal so that I could do the required research. I started the year in Vegas celebrating Glennis’ birthday and watching my Eagles continue their march toward the Super Bowl. Speaking of marches, this year was also the year of the demonstrations. I did the Women’s March in January 2018. Then there was a marchin March 2018 with Beto O’Rourke for gun control. I took my son, who is currently in high school, both as an awareness event for him but also because he could be directly impacted by gun violence at any time. All these things are happening, and I am plugging away with my studies and helping Benjamin manage his education and music. We had our second family reunion in Philadelphia. It was great to be back in my birthplace. I continued to coach jumps with the El Paso Wings. I travelled to Colorado to coach my jumpers in the USATF Regional track meet to Nationals in Greensboro North Carolina.

Benjamin started his junior year of high school, and Arielle began her sophomore year in college in 2018. I was beginning my push to complete my doctoral proposal. I had an eventful birthday month and spent lots of time with other September babies. September is also around the time that I met the love of my life. The whole love thing was wholly unintentional and fabulous, and that is all that you will hear from me on the whole love thing for the moment.

Toward the end of the year, December 2018, so many great and wonderful things happened. I went to my first NFL football game. The Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys played, so my brother and his wife, my best friend from Florida, and myself all met up in Dallas to spend a weekend and go to the game. And all while this beautiful weekend was happening, I was in the throes of doing edits for my research proposal. This submission was the final step before the first oral defense of my doctoral study. My committee member wanted some minor, yet extensive, changes to my research before approval was granted to defend. So here I was, ready to do this great weekend, but having this monumental deadline looming as well.  I was determined to get both things accomplished and have a great time doing each one.  I love my family and my friends. We had fun at the AirB&B that we rented. We spent time touring around Dallas, and my poor brother had to protect three women!!!! We laughed, took pictures, went to great restaurants and enjoyed our time together. And when we were at home, I did edits and revisions to my proposal, while everyone sat around and told stories. It was a fabulous time. The Eagles lost the game in overtime, but the memories will last a lifetime.

I was also able to complete my proposal and submit my document by the deadline.  Yay me! I went on to receive approval of my project proposal and completed my oral defense for my committee.

After the proposal oral defense, I was able to complete my research application and submit it for review before Christmas. This timing was perfect for sending to me because the IRB review would occur while we were our two-week holiday break, and it did not cost me any class time waiting. The timing of my submission could not have been more appropriate. The year 2018 went out on a high note and I was looking forward to what 2019 would bring.

Tackling WPW


Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW) is a condition in the heart where there is an extra electrical pathway within the heart. The challenge with the extra pathway is that it allows the electrical pulse that causes the heart to beat to enter into the heart’s valves unrestricted. This unrestricted electrical pulse can cause rapid heart rate and possibly sudden death if unchecked.

WPW is of even greater concern for athletes who push their heart rates to exorbitant levels to be the very best in their sport. Arielle is that athlete. She works her body in volleyball and track to be the very best. She is naturally athletic, but she does not take that for granted. She constantly strives to be better.

So when the diagnosis of WPW came knocking at her door, Arielle met the challenge head on. For more details on how the challenge began, check out my blog post “From Routine to OMG!

Once Arielle received the official diagnosis of WPW, she made the decision to go to the USATF Junior Olympic Nationals in Jacksonville. She made the choice in spite of the diagnosis because she had a score to settle. She did not make All-American in 2014 at Nationals in Houston TX and she wanted some vengeance this year in Jacksonville. And WPW was not going to keep her from it.

However, now that track season had finished with her redemption at Nationals, and high school volleyball season was at hand, we made plans to have the cardiac ablation procedure that would make WPW history once and for all for Arielle.

Our first appointment was a consultation with the electro-physiologist, Dr. David Bush. Dr. Bush would be performing the procedure on Arielle. He talked with us about WPW and particularly about Arielle’s case. He put her in the “moderate risk” category because she was an elite athlete and he saw the results of her Holter monitor diagnostics. Her max heart rate during diagnostics was 174 beats per minute. He assured us that doing this procedure was definitely in her best interests. Our final question before leaving the consultation…can she go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas? With a resounding “Yes” we were on our way…out of the consultation and on to Six Flags!

Procedure Day

Procedure day was met with palpable apprehension. D-Day had arrived. This was the day that Arielle would reclaim her sports life, but the angst about the unknown left her non-plussed. Since Arielle couldn’t eat after midnight before the procedure, she skipped breakfast and slept in. I quietly ate and silently prayed. This was a big day. We packed up our hotel and headed to the hospital.

Travel to the hospital was awkward. I knew that Arielle had tons of questions that I had no answers for. We joked a little as we let Siri navigate the route to the hospital. Upon our arrival, we parked and went down to the cath lab.   We checked in and sat down. Keri, the nurse who would be assisting in Arielle’s procedure came in to put a numbing agent on the area where the IV would be placed. They were finishing up another patient and would get to Arielle soon enough.

Arielle is not a fan of pain or the unknown, so I know that waiting for this procedure was really taking its toll on her. Even as a toddler, getting her to cooperate with her pediatrician or to get a shot called for some very creative thinking to get it accomplished! But she toughed it out because she understood that it was for the greater good. That’s the power of being a disciplined athlete. She knows that practice, repetition, weight training and core workouts are necessary because she understands that those things the keys to a great season, that greater good. This procedure would lead to greater good in her athletics.

I just simply prayed and stayed in faith. I refused to let my mind stray to the “what ifs”….

Soon, Keri came to get us to get Arielle prepped for the procedure. Arielle changed into the ever-so-fashionable hospital gown got her IV put in. Arielle hates needles, but she is too nosy not to look at what is going on. So since she hadn’t eaten since 10pm the night before, I thought it prudent that she not watch the IV go in because she might faint. So I had her look at me and talk so she wouldn’t be tempted to look.

The entire procedure crew was very nice and supportive. They were awed by how tall Arielle was and her athletic accomplishments. Apparently it was all the talk about this elite athlete coming in to get this procedure done. After all this was the pediatric unit! They actually had to extend her bed to its maximum length to accommodate her length.

They gave Arielle some happy juice to get her relaxed and that set her off in a fit of loopy giggles. I gave her kisses and she was wheeled away and I was taken to the waiting area and given instructions on how to contact them. The time was 1pm.

I went and got my laptop and some lunch and proceeded to start my blog. The procedure was scheduled for anywhere between 2 and 4 hours, so I got comfortable. About an hour or so later, Keri called give me an update on Arielle’s progress. She was doing well and Dr. Bush had isolated the alternate pathway.

Still prayerful, I continued to work on my blog. Shortly after that, around 3pm, Dr. Bush came in to say the procedure was complete and in about 20 minutes they would be taking Arielle upstairs. I packed up and was going to see my baby. Keri came and I actually rode up to the 9th floor with Arielle and the team. She looked good, but of course she was still anesthetized so she was oblivious to me or her surroundings.

They got Arielle in her room in the pediatric cardiac ICU (PCICU) and I was settled in with her. It was around 3:30pm. As I watched her sleep and looked at her vitals, I saw the blip in the EKG that was noticeably absent when we started this journey. I began to let my guard down. It was finally, FINALLY over. Just needed time to recover and this whole ordeal would be a thing of the past. Yes!

But then… Not again with the “but”…

At around 4pm I looked at her vitals and noticed that the blip seemed to flatten out and disappear…just like in the beginning…but I am not a doctor but it didn’t seem right.

Shortly after my mental assessment, one of the nurses came in and was on the phone with someone. I would later learn that it was the tech team that was assigned to monitor patient vitals. The nurse looked at me politely but an urgently concerned line etched her face. I listened to her end of the conversation…”No it doesn’t look like a delta wave…it can’t be that…yes I will call him.” My guard immediately started easing its way back up. What now?

The nurse took pictures of Arielle’s vitals. She explained that she was sending them over to Dr. Bush for review. The medical technician came in and took another EKG. Arielle was oblivious to it all of this activity because she was still under the anesthesia. There was a flurry of activity that had me on high alert. There was something not right with my child and the fix that was supposed to change everything.

By 4:30 Dr. Bush was back. He looked at the EKG and looked at me and said, “I don’t know what is going on, but we have to go back in and fix this. You guys have traveled too far to come back and I want to get this fixed for her. It is going to take a little bit to get everyone back together but as soon as that happens we are taking Arielle back downstairs and I will put in more lesions and close that pathway. I only have to go in on one side this time because I know where it is located.”

I say OK and then wait. At around 5:30 Arielle begins to come around. She starts to move and is a little perturbed by her discomfort. She is in and out of drowsiness so I didn’t try to explain to her what is about to happen to her again.

So back downstairs we go. It’s about 7pm. Arielle is still groggy and needing to go to the bathroom. I am putting on a brave face and trying to find that courage that had kept me up to this point. It was eluding me. My armor had been pierced and I didn’t know if I would make it this go round. All my reserves had been tapped and I was operating on fumes.   I was not scared or worried, but I was very, very concerned. After the initial ablation, Dr. Bush had let me know that the alternate pathway was very close to the original pathway and if he accidentally ablated the original pathway, it would cause heart block and that would end Arielle’s athletic career. Not restrict it—END it!

And now he has to go back in. It is of great concern for me. I am in the waiting area and I feel absolutely alone. I am shaken to my very core. Tears are pooling, but I cannot let them fall. If one falls then there would be an uncontrollable deluge and I have to be there for my baby. I have to be able to be her rock no matter the outcome and God knows I am believing for a positive outcome.

All of my external forces were showing signs of weakness, but my internal man was the prisoner of a positive expectation. I had to hold on to that hope that made me schedule her physical believing that no cardiac issues would be found. I needed that same hope that sent us to Jacksonville and allowed her to compete in spite of WPW. I needed that hope that put us on every roller-coaster at Six Flags. For I walk by faith and not by sight! So although my armor was failing and there were stress fractures in my thoughts, I still knew that it was going to somehow, someway be alright. It had to be.

I got a phone call from Keri saying that the lesions were done and they were doing tests. These tests involve introducing medicines into the body to give the heart adrenaline spikes so that they can check where the electrical pulses are traveling.   This goes on for quite a while to make sure that the pathway is completely closed. By 9:30pm Arielle, the team and I are taking the ride back up the elevator to her room. She is heavily sedated and still intubated. I couldn’t even look at her. My armor was almost completely useless at this point and I felt way too vulnerable.

Through the night, Arielle’s vitals remained normal and she showed no signs of reversion. An EKG was taken the following morning for Dr. Bush to review prior to discharge. Things were fine and the pathway was completely shut down. She still had to recover and was not completely released to go back to sports. Final clearance for competition would come when Dr. Black saw her in El Paso on August 26, 2015.

That was the best news ever. We were ready to head home. But first Arielle needed to use the bathroom normally before she could be discharged. The nurse helped her to sit up on the bed. Once she overcame the dizziness of double doses of anesthesia and 30 hours without food she was able to use the facilities. This was her “Get out of Jail FREE” card!

We went to breakfast at IHOP on our way out of San Antonio. It was raining but I wanted to get Arielle some food so that her systems could start recovering. She was still pretty drugged up and unsteady and it took some getting used to seeing Arielle in that state. It took Arielle a little bit to get used to being in this state too. She is very independent and having to hold on to your mother for support was a bit much.

As we were eating breakfast, I look up and see Arielle in tears! Intrinsically I knew. Finally, she had allowed herself to be overwhelmed by her situation. She had finally allowed herself to look over the edge of the cliff and into what might have been and to know that it was over. It is Over. It’s O-V-E-R!

I went over to sit with her, put my arms around her and just let it happen. No explanation necessary. No conversation required. Who cares that we are in IHOP. If they only knew… Over and done!

Arielle had her final appointment scheduled with Dr. Black on August 26, 2015. This day was dubbed “FINAL EKG AND OFFICIAL CLEARANCE DAY”! We were looking at this day with great expectation. But then…

Not ANOTHER “But”! This cannot be happening!

On Monday 8/24 I receive a call from the clinic to say that they are cancelling all of Dr. Black’s appointments because he is unable to come in from San Antonio. Then I am told that Arielle is being referred out to network and I should receive a referral letter in the mail in 7 days…. I heard nothing else after that. Seven days to wait to get a referral to a doctor who would then take a few more days to get me an appointment. And while this is happening, Arielle is unable to get back to volleyball. Absolutely not!

I thanked the nurse for the bad news, told her it was unacceptable but not her fault and came up with my own plan B. I immediately called Dr. Bush’s office, spoke with his nurse, and set another plan in motion. I got a prescription from Dr. Bush to have the EKG done here at the clinic and to have it faxed over to him to be read so that he could clear Arielle.

When we met with the provider on Arielle’s appointment day, 8/26, we gave an update of the procedure and how if it had not been for her looking for Marfan Syndrome the WPW would not have been discovered. Then she put in the order to get an EKG done and to have it faxed to Dr. Bush. We know the EKG routine now and it’s not as scary as it was on the front side of this situation. At first we were hoping that nothing was found and we are still hoping that nothing is found, but for a very different reason this time. Finding nothing means everything this time.

We waited and waited to be called to the EKG room. Our nerves were still on edge because of what happened while in San Antonio. The EKG was done and we left. Both Arielle and I were still uneasy, because it just seemed like the med tech didn’t do the EKG right. She just did not know what was riding on this EKG. One slip up and we are in trouble.

Now we just had to wait for the final review by Dr. Bush. I contacted the office to make sure that the EKG fax had been received. But Dr. Bush would not read the fax on Wednesday. He was in Laredo doing screenings. He would be back in the office on Thursday to read the EKG. So we had to wait ONE More Day.

The bad thing about waiting the one day means that she would not be quite ready to play in the volleyball tourney in Wofford TX, the weekend of August 28th – 29th. She was allowed to attend the tourney because her discharge paperwork said that she was able to practice but not released to compete. So I am waiting to get the clearance so I can get it to the trainer, so he can get it to the coach, so she can take the court with the team on Friday morning. Talk about cutting it close!

As of the writing of this blog…Arielle is 100% cleared! Back on the court and back in the game!

Check out  he WPW Outtakes blog. It has additional content on the WPW journey that I did not include here for the sake of your attention span.


From Routine to OMG!



Life shifts can happen at any time. The key is to have a plan of attack no matter what the challenge.

May 8, 2015    Arielle has a routine primary care appointment to get a referral for the podiatrist. During the routine evaluation, the primary care provider (PCP) begins to think that Arielle is exhibiting signs of Marfan Syndrome. Marfan syndrome is what caused Isaiah Austin, the Baylor basketball star, to withdraw from the NBA draft in 2014.   The PCP requests some tests: x-rays for spinal deformity, genetics referral, and an EKG to check for the cardiac component of Marfan Syndrome. The appointment ends and life goes on.

Shortly after Arielle’s EKG, I receive a call from the Pediatric department to set up an appointment with the pediatric cardiologist. I am instantly concerned because I think of all the things going on in the next few weeks. Arielle is the TX-5A Region 1 Champ in both the Long and Triple jump and is heading to Austin for the first time ever to compete in the State track meet. She has goals and plans for her future in athletics at the college level. Coaches are jockeying for position to get her attention in both volleyball and track. I didn’t want her plans for athletics to be derailed by Marfan like Isaiah’s. I set the appointment and decided to wait to tell Arielle later so that she wouldn’t worry.

Arielle’s track season takes off like a shot. She goes to state and takes 2nd place in the Triple Jump. She is invited to compete in the Great Southwest Outdoor Track & Field Meet in June. She qualifies to go to the USATF World Youth Trials in Chicago for a chance to compete for Team USA in the IAAF World Youth Championships. She is oblivious to the fact that she has a cardiac appointment in a month.

The appointment weighs on me heavily, however. What if she has the cardiac component of Marfan Syndrome? With that diagnosis her entire sports career is over. It’s high risk for sudden death that makes her untouchable by any D-1 school athletic program. No track, no volleyball, no nothing. How do you tell your child that she can no longer compete collegiately as she had planned? It is sheer agony.

Every time I get up the nerve to tell Arielle about this cardiology appointment some other great event happens. Right after she qualifies for the youth trials in track, she receives an email saying that she made the high performance volleyball team for the region. It is quite an honor to make this team. She’s excited and I am deflated because now is still not a good time to tell her.

While preparing for the Border championships for summer track, Arielle is notified that she is El Paso Female Track athlete of the year! It’s another reason to be excited and STILL not a good time to tell her about the cardiology appointment.

Finally, I tell Arielle about her cardiologist appointment once we return from World Youth Trials on July 2, 2015. The appointment with the cardiologist is July 9, 2015. She instantly asks if something is wrong with her heart. I say no, that they just want to be sure. Being ever the optimist, I even scheduled her school sports physical for the same day. I was so sure the cardiologist wasn’t going to find anything and she would be cleared on her physical to start volleyball practices.

That was my plan. The universe, however, was not cooperating.

July 9, 2015. Appointment Day we go to Arielle’s appointment and the first thing they do is take another EKG for Dr. Black, the cardiologist. And we wait…and silently pray…and awkwardly try to act like everything is fine. Dr. Black comes in and tells us that Arielle does not have Marfan’s. Whew! Then comes the but…but she does have Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (WPW). What in the world is that? He immediately calls us to a place of calm and begins to explain what WPW is and what it entails.

WPW is a syndrome where an alternate pathway develops in the heart in utero.  Normally, the electricity goes through one designated pathway and is slowed down prior to entering the different chambers of the heart, so that the heart pumps properly. This alternate pathway allows the electricity to pass through the heart without being slowed down at all. This unchecked electricity can cause irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation, and sudden death with high intensity cardiac events…like sports!

WHAT?!? Arielle and I both begin to pepper Dr. Black with information and questions. She has USATF Junior Olympic Nationals coming up, what does WPW mean for that? Volleyball season is coming up, how long will she be out of commission.  What about this, how does that play out with that? I am feeling frantic and so is Arielle.

Dr. Black immediately reassures us that WPW is totally fixable and that she should be able to continue with her sports career once it is fixed. But…

But?!? Another but. But what? I did not realize that I was holding my breath until I started feeling light-headed. This was a lot to take and we had plans and finances tied up in Arielle going to Jacksonville to compete in the Junior Olympic Nationals. This was her year of redemption etc. However, Arielle’s health was most important. We both knew that and wanted to convey that to Dr. Black.

Dr. Black listened patiently to our concerns and told us that Arielle was not allowed to do any competitive athletics until her heart diagnostics were confirmed. There was a possibility that with high intensity work-outs that the alternate pathway could possibly automatically shut itself down once the heart rate was raised to 150+ beats per minute. But in order to determine that Arielle needed to get a Holter monitor and do a stress test to get the diagnostics.

A plan is then mapped out a plan to get things moving as quickly as possible in light of our plans for Jacksonville. He needed Arielle to wear a Holter monitor to track her heartbeat for 24 hours. Once the diagnostics were received he would know how to proceed. If the alternate pathway shut itself down during high intensity workouts, then she is out of the woods and can continue as normal. That was definitely my hope because I really want her to be OK and to not have her season derailed.

No such luck. Arielle wore the monitor during two track practices, played Just Dance on X-Box, and went roller skating. The results showed that her heart rate during exertion got up to 170+ beats per minute and the pathway did not shut itself down. So we had to prepare for the next procedure which was an electro-physiology study and cardiac ablation. It is not open heart surgery but anything dealing with the heart is always of major concern.

Arielle and I had a talk in light of this new development and decided that she would compete in Junior Olympic Nationals in spite of the diagnosis. The thought process was that she had competed this long with WPW not knowing that she had it and this was her last track event of the season. We would finish the season and then deal with the WPW.

This response was made not from a place of panic but it was calmly discussed and all of the possibilities analyzed. From an early age in sports, we have always taught Arielle to know what her priorities are before entering into any venture. This makes the decision making process more streamlined and easy to navigate. If you don’t know the priority, then any challenge can likely throw you off course. We know that “track is life” and we were going to see this great season through to the end.

While at the Junior Olympic Nationals, it was very scary for me to sit and watch her compete. I generally enjoy watching Arielle get all intense with the competition. I generally encourage her to push herself to her very limits. This time, though, it was a little different. Although I wanted her to make All-American and do really well, I had this growing apprehension of “What if…?” I watched her compete and put on a brave face, but it was one of the hardest things for me to ever do so far. When she finished both her events as an All-American, in spite of the WPW diagnosis, I could not have been prouder.

All-American at Junior Olympic Nationals were the final feathers in a great season’s cap. Arielle finished the 2015 track season as:

  • EPISD District Record Holder (Varsity) in Triple Jump (38’11.5”)
  • 5-A Region 1 Champion in Long Jump (18’7”) PR
  • 5-A Region 1 Champion Triple Jump (40’ 6”) PR and Burges High School record
  • TX State Silver Medalist in Triple Jump (40’ 3.75”)
  • Great Southwest Outdoor Triple-Jump 6th place finisher 2015
  • El Paso Times Female Track Athlete of the Year 2015
  • USATF World Youth Trials Competitor 2015
  • USATF Border Champion in Long Jump 2015 (5.57) Border Record for 15-16
  • USATF Border Champion in Triple Jump 2015 (11.93)Border Record for 15-16
  • USATF Junior Olympic Nationals All-American Long Jump 2015
  • USATF Junior Olympic Nationals All-American Triple Jump. 2015
  • Milesplit TX Female Track Athlete of the Year Nominee 2015

Now on to deal with this WPW.