In September, amidst all the challenges of the pandemic, Isabel Viggers joined the team at Magenta as a trainee administration assistant. It’s her first job, straight from college.

Now, 4 months into this new job, Izzy is helping Gretchen, Mandy, Allyson and the rest of the team with administration support. At some time in the future, she will hopefully progress to taking exams and would like to learn more of the technical sides of the business.  

At the end of the year, we asked Izzy to write a blog to be published – that’s quite a scary prospect for anyone.  

However, Izzy loves a challenge.  

Izzy suffers from Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia and since she was very young has battled hard with this complex medical condition. She believes it’s shaped who she is today and she’s kindly shared her story, with us for this blog.

Izzy’s story

So where to start…. Well Easter Sunday 2010, I was 8 years old helping my sister and cousins out on our grandparents farm, the next thing I know I’m on the floor being given CPR by my uncle as I was having a cardiac arrest. This was really scary and a shock, but, on the plus side I had a free easter egg from the hospital!!

A couple of months later, one minute I was in the school playground and the next I was waking up on the boys football pitch after another cardiac arrest. A very strange experience.

Then in October 2010 when I was playing in my first netball match… one minute I was happily enjoying the game and then the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor with people around me. Third times a charm right?

Luckily for me there was a nurse at the netball matched who pushed for me to be investigated at the local hospital. It became obvious to my parents and others that an 8-year-old girl having 3 cardiac arrests was not normal and that something was wrong.

At 8 years old I was scared and didn’t understand what was happening to me nor how serious it was.  Many tests, scans and several years later they finally diagnosed me with CPVT – Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, an arrhythmia problem.

I underwent an operation for the implantation of a ICD – Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, which was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever had to go through.

In 2017 I had to have a new defibrillator put in, this operation was more complicated than the one before and to add even more stress to the situation I was starting some of my GCSE’s. This was very difficult time for me.

I have gone through numerous operations through my childhood, and more time spent in hospital than I would have liked.

I now understand a lot more about my health condition, how to deal with it, things I can and can not do.

Physically I would like to think I am just like most other 18-year-old girls, but the fact remains that I am not. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about wearing certain clothing as I don’t like my scars showing.

The only major time I am affected physically by my condition is just after an operation when I undoubtably need time to rest and recover. Day to day, I can do the things I enjoy, with limits, such as going to the gym, drive and go to work. Knowing and understanding my limits make things easier and being able to work out makes me feel like I’m working on my health, something that I couldn’t control growing up.  Hopefully by looking after myself I will be able to have more control in the future.

Mentally, going through such challenging, uncertain, complicated time at such a young age was horrible. I was mentally drained by the not knowing what was wrong with me – it was terrifying!  BUT now, actually knowing and understanding what is wrong with me puts me at some sort of ease.

Yes I have bad days where I think about my future and what that looks like whilst living with a long term health condition, thinking about people judging me or being nasty because of it, that can be hard. Luckily, I have amazing family and friends around me that lift me up whenever I’m down. My elder brother helps me see things in a positive light. He recently told me that I’m a miracle.  I’ve thought about that a lot, surviving and overcoming 3 cardiac arrests and 2 big operations as a child makes you view things differently.  I think about how very lucky I am to have got through all of that, and I remind myself of what a big deal that is!!

So that’s how I try to stay positive, but I have also learnt that it’s ok to have bad moments and be upset about how things are, to feel sorry for myself at times because at the end of the day I’ve been through a lot, I just try to not put to much pressure on myself.

So, living with a long term illness has its challenges but it’s made me who I am today. I have learnt that I am stronger than I think.

Since starting my job at Magenta, working full time in a professional environment has been a big change for me. Travelling to and from work, working full time in a busy place, it has been challenging. However, I am so grateful for this opportunity to show myself and the people around me that I can do and will do whatever I set my mind to. I always told my younger self that I would never let my medical condition hold me back from anything I wanted to do, I would never give up (with the exception of certain things that I am physically incapable of). So being given this opportunity with Magenta means a lot to me, I come to work everyday happy and excited knowing I will most probably learn something new each day. The profession is so interesting and I am really enjoying being able to push myself to learn new things.