Shelby Maiorano – New York Interview by Zoe D’Angelo Nomination and Photography by Luke Photography Issue 19 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: I met Shelby as a HS junior during a consultation for a portrait session. She is a very sweet girl who is profoundly upbeat and happy. She's had numerous concussions from lacrosse and a car accident and had to give up playing lacrosse as a result. She's also had numerous heart surgeries, all before I met her. She's had a couple of surgeries since, but she continues to be the happiest and most upbeat teenager I've ever met.
How did you recover from your concussions in lacrosse and the car accident?
I recovered from my concussion in lacrosse and the car accident by going to months of occupational therapy, physical therapy, the concussion clinic and a lot of rest. I was unable to play sports, participate in any physical activity and even do everyday activities because I needed to rest for a long period of time. I was basically on bed rest.
Can you walk me through your day of the car accident and thoughts that went through your mind?
The day of the car accident my mother and I were on the way to the concussion clinic and my neurologist at Strong Memorial Hospital. We were rear-ended by a car going approximately 55mph while our car was at a complete stop due to traffic. The thoughts going through my head at this point was the fact that I was already in really bad conditions physically because of the severe concussion I was dealing with and I was worried about the effects that the impact of this accident would have on me because I hit my head really hard when we got in the accident.
What type of heart surgeries have you had and what was the recovery process like?
I have had two cardiac ablations and a loop recorder heart monitor implanted and taken out. After the cardiac ablations, I was hospitalized for a few days following the surgery and recovery took a couple of weeks due to severe discomfort I dealt with. After the loop recorder monitor procedure, I was sent home that day and the recovery was approximately 5-6 days.
Image by Kathleen Frauel
Are you still involved with sports? If so, which ones? Unfortunately, I am no longer involved with sports. After having eight diagnosed concussions, I was told by my neurologist that I no longer can participate in any sport. She presented me with the risks of the concussions I have already had, and the even worse risks if I was to get another concussion. These risks were life threating and could cause me severe brain damage, which I am blessed to have not gotten after my numerous concussions.
What do you fill your time with? Favorite hobbies? Past times? In my free time, I do anything I can to stay active. One of my favorite ways of doing this is adventuring outside at the beach or at local parks and traveling to different states and countries. Traveling is by far my favorite thing to do. I love being exposed to new cultures, environments, and meeting new people.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? The advice I would give is to never take anything in life for granted. No matter what adversity you have to face and struggles you need to overcome, keep a smile on your face throughout the whole process and always stay strong. Your strength will inspire those around you and will inspire people struggling that no matter what, everything will be okay in the end. Other advice I would give is to always put your health before anything else. Your health is essential and should always be a priority. After any injury, it is important to get checked out by a medical professional so they can deliver the car necessary.
Image by Nick Serrata
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans for the future? In five years, I see myself working on a pediatric unit as a Registered Nurse. Currently, I am in college majoring in Nursing. To me, helping someone is by far the most rewarding feeling, and that is what I wanted my career to abide. Going into the field of Nursing is not a conscious choice cultivated by a college adviser or a team of phycologists; it is who I am- it is my past, present, and future. My natural inclination and personal experiences in the medical field have led me to the field of nursing. I look forward to having a voice in the medical industry and being able to help people through any adversity they may have to face and being there every step of the way throughout their healing process. This will provide me with immeasurable gratification.
Anything else you’d like to tell us? On top of my heart condition and concussions, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder called Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy when I was thirteen. RND is a rare autoimmune disorder. It is a painful condition that leads to severe pain in the joints and muscles. It is caused by a nerve sensitivity whereby the nerves in the body send pain signals to the brain inappropriately. When dealing with this on top of my concussion and heart issues, medical professionals were extremely concerned on the impact the RND would have and the impacts it would have on my recovery processes.
Shelby will be featured in Issue 19 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!