KANSAS CITY, MO — Mary “Micky” Foos celebrated her 25th birthday Monday, which is a testimony to medical skill and Micky's unbending will to live.
“I had four open heart surgeries when I was born,"Foos said. "I was born with Tetraology of Fallot, which is a very rare heart disease where you have four or more complications with your heart present at birth."
Foos did not have an easy childhood, but played sports without fear despite her heart condition.
“I did volleyball and dances and did sports and everything my whole life,” Foos said. “I never had any issues. I’ve always been short of breath, but that’s just my norm, that's all I've ever known"
After graduating from high school, Foos went to college where her condition, as doctor's predicted, grew worse.
“I started with chest pain and so it was in and out of the ER and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong and all they wanted to do was throw medicine at me,” Foos said. “I was just having extra heart beats like for every one one, I’d have two or more."
The irregularity in her heartbeat was caused by Premature Ventricular Contractions, Foos said.
“Usually you need two oblations to take care of all the PVC and I’ve had six,” Foos said.
However, after being cleared by doctors to get back to a normal life one day, things took a turn for the worst.
“I’ve had 10 heart surgeries total and in 2020, they told me I was okay and I was clear to exercise,” Foos said, “So I was dancing one Sunday like I usually do and went into cardiac arrest — my heart rate skyrocketed and my defibrillator went off."
The pain at the moment of her cardiac arrest felt like being hit by a vehicle, she said.
“I felt like a car hit me from behind, it like jolted me forward so hard and I really expected to turn around and see like a truck through my garage door,” Foos said. "But then I turned around, nothing was there, I had no idea what happened, because my defibrillator had never gone off like that.”
With a drive to succeed that impressed everyone around her, she went to college.
“They didn’t think I was going to make it past my first year, and then back in 2019 they were like, 'You're not going to make it 12 months with all these PVCs you’re having and then cardiac arrest,'" Foos said. "Only one-percent of the people survive that, and that's if you catch them in time."
It's been a constant struggle to just keep her body going.
“Some days I’m taking my medicine and it’s still not enough and that’s really discouraging,” Foos said. “Sometimes always having to worry about like your body’s own self destruction.”
Micky receives cardiac rehab at the University of Kansas Health-System, along with other appointments that add up to seven doctors appointments in a five-day week.
"It’s just an hour twice a week and basically I am just there right now just to build up my strength because I spend so much time in the hospital that I don’t exercise that much,” Foos explained. "It’s working your heart muscle to get it stronger so that I’m not like out of breath and fatigued and all that.”
Despite the pain, the doctor visits and the surgeries, Micky has a heart of gold.
She works to raise awareness for others with chronic illness.
“It’s been a journey, but it feels like a success,” Foos said.