The volleyball weighed hundreds of pounds in senior Macy Young’s hands.
She tossed up the ball, stumbling over her steps as she approached the serving sweet spot. Macy smacked the ball as hard as she could, forcing it, willing it to soar onto the other side of the court.
Yet it barely stumbled over the net.
Again, she attempted to serve it, but her arms continued to grow heavier and respond slower under the weight of the thousand pound ball. She had a responsibility to her team, though. So every ball that came her way she dove to it, refusing to allow it to hit the ground while her movements grew more clumsy.
When Macy’s body hit the ground, it didn’t bounce back like the volleyball. Instead she pried herself up off the court, telling her arms to pick herself up. But her arms didn’t respond.
The world went fuzzy, her body radio static. Macy didn’t feel sick, per se. But her arms didn’t feel like they belonged to Macy. Her arms didn’t feel at all.
Taunts and chants arose from the opposing side of the court, goading Macy, angered at her delaying the game. But the shouts, too, felt diluted in Macy’s ears.
“We had five points left in the game and I was just so dizzy,” Macy said.
Her teammates and coaches surrounded her, assisting her off the court and on the bench. Nothing changed, however, and the dizziness and paralysis continued. A doctor from the stands came down, but he, too, had nothing to offer except the recommendation to go to the emergency room.
“I don’t even remember who [the doctor] was because I was so out of it,” Macy said.
Macy continued to slip in and out of consciousness, her body growing weaker each time she awoke. Doctors poked and prodded at her arms, but the paralysis continued. Dark, splotchy patches of skin dotted her arms, bruised from pushing Macy couldn’t even feel. The ER in Texarkana had nothing to offer Macy, though. With no hint of a diagnosis, the staff sent Macy to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, hoping their larger resources might help Macy and her family gain clarity.
But the trip to Little Rock proved to be useless. Months went by and still there was no explanation for Macy’s temporary paralysis.
Weeks passed alongside a revolving door of doctors. ER doctors, Children’s specialists, a cardiologist, an autoimmune specialist. And still no answers.
Finally, December struck and so did good fortune. A neurologist at Dallas Childrens gave them a name: vasovagal syncope.
“It was a rare case,” Macy said. “Most people have it when they see blood, but mine’s a different kind. It’s like when you stand up too fast and feel light headed, but mine is more severe and happens more often. It’s common in children and you grow out of it as you age.”
The condition makes Macy’s blood pressure drop, sending her body into shock. Some bouts with the conditions are worse than others, making her body incredibly weak and insanely heavy.
“I just wish I would have known what it was sooner,” Macy said. “So that way it wouldn’t have gotten to the point of paralysis.”
Despite a shaky timeframe, the symptoms, including paralysis, only last about a day, allowing Macy to lead a normal life.
“It’s just something she’s gonna have to grow out of and learn how to deal with as she grows up,” Rebecca Young, Macy’s mom, said. “She hasn’t had any episodes since we’ve been under the care of Dallas Children’s, so we think we’ve got it figured out.”