Megan Finn is alive and doing well.
The former Overlea field hockey player who collapsed on the practice field September 25, 2004 and was saved when her coach, Jenna Zava, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her, is 19 years old, lives in Virginia Beach, Va, with her husband of six months, Hunter McColgan, and is living her life to the fullest, or at least as much as her hypertrophic cardiomyopathy will allow.
"I have a lot more energy,' said Megan McColgan the other day. "I've been doing really good. I'm happy with where I am right now.'
Telling and re-telling Megan's story has been one of the great joys of doing my column because her tale is so life-affirming. One can only imagine the horror that she and her family lived in the hours after her attack. That she has fought back so hard not only to have a life, but a happy one, is a tremendous testament to the indomitability of the human heart, literally and figuratively.
I had a chance to catch up with Megan earlier this week in conjunction with the column that appears in today's sports section about tomorrow's screening conducted by the Heart Hype campaign of the Johns Hopkins University. The screening, to be held at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association's state track and field championships at Morgan State, may help medical volunteers detect the presence of HCM, a thickening of the heart muscle that in some cases restricts the flow of blood out from the heart.
HCM is, according to medical professionals, the leading cause of sudden death among people aged 30 and younger, and often goes undetected during a regular physical examination. An electrocardiogram or EKG, which measures the electrical impulses of the heart over time, can provide signs of the presence of HCM, but the exam can cost up to $1,000 per test. Tomorrow's tests are free, and do not require pre-registration. However, students under 18 who plan to take the EKG must have either parental permission or the parent present at Morgan tomorrow to give permission. You can get a permission form online at the MPSSAA's Web site.
Megan McColgan, whose HCM wasn't detected until after her attack, spent four weeks in the hospital four years ago. She has spent a good chunk of those four years since visiting doctors at the University of Maryland Hospital Center here in Baltimore, seeing them once a month until this March, when the frequency of visits was changed to once every three months, because of the progress she's made.
She's taking a fairly high dose of a beta blocker twice a day as well as aspirin, and there are limits to what she can do in terms of exertion. But the dosage of the beta blocker has been reduced in recent months, reducing the incidents in which Megan would feel dizzy upon standing up or out of breath.
Megan, who goes for walks and takes Pilates classes, hopes that when she sees her cardiologist next month, he'll clear her to resume taking ballet classes. In addition, she's hoping to get the green light to consider having a baby.
In an interesting twist, Megan said she has taken courses on how to administer the EKG, and she'll take a test in July to receive a license to give the EKG. During her classes, her teacher used her as a guinea pig of sorts, to show her classmates what an abnormal EKG looks like. She said she spoke to the class often about her experiences, and you get the feeling that, with the twists and turns her life has taken, no one will be more proficient, or at least more empathetic in administering an EKG than Megan McColgan.
'I loved it,' Megan said. 'I learned a lot about myself from taking that class and I can't wait until I get into some scrubs and run an EKG machine and help out other people with it.'