Pat McKnight Special Envoy
Arcadia High School senior Catherine Hurlburt overcame the challenges of battling a medical condition and recovering her father from a serious accident. She continued to maintain a good reputation in her schoolwork as well as serving her community.
The Extra Effort candidate was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome in January 2019. Then, last January, her father, Robert, was injured when he was crushed by a tree.
âI went through the healing process with him,â said Hurlburt. âToday the only thing that resulted from that accident was an ankle brace and some numbness where the tree hit him. We’re both grateful to be where we are today.
When she was in first grade, Hurlburt experienced her first episode of fainting due to Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. The disorder caused her anxiety because she could not predict when or where the episodes would occur.
POTS causes fainting when rising from a sitting position, the result of insufficient blood returning to the heart. Dizziness or fainting can be relieved by lying down. The person suffering from POTS may also experience a rapid increase in heart rate; Blurred vision; Heart palpitations; headache; poor concentration; tired; gastrointestinal symptoms; shortness of breath; head, neck or chest discomfort; weakness; sleep disturbances; difficulty in exercising; anxiety; and coldness or pain in the extremities.
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The cause of the syndrome is unknown, but it has been found that the disorder begins as a result of major surgery, trauma, or viral illness. Treatment focuses on increasing blood flow and improving circulation. Although POTS can affect men and women of all ages, most cases are diagnosed in women between the ages of 15 and 50.
Hurlburt missed a lot of schools while undergoing tests to diagnose the syndrome. However, she learned to manage her condition while maintaining an A average throughout her school years.
âMy favorite subject in school has to be science or something in the field of agriculture / animals,â said Hurlburt. âI followed my grades by working hard and asking questions. I also had a ton of help from my teachers. They continue to be understanding and patient with me.
Marie Lettner was Hurlburt’s counselor throughout high school and had her as a precomputation student.
âTo call what Catherine has endured over the past four years a struggle is an understatement,â Lettner said. âCatherine was fueled by her diagnosis, as well as the anxiety and frustration caused by not being in control of her mind and her life. She has participated in numerous therapies to alleviate both POTS and her anxiety and has gone from skipping a lot of school to participating in school and extracurricular activities as if she did not have a chronic illness.
âEven last year, I couldn’t imagine that Catherine could go to college and live away from home, but she worked hard not only to manage her disorder, but also to thrive and lead the life of her life. ‘a typical teenage girl. “
Hurlburt plans to further his education in the biological sciences for a career as a veterinarian or coroner / medical examiner.
In addition to Hurlburt and his father, his family includes his mother, Julie, an older sister Brianna, and a younger sister, Alanna. They have a farm near Arcadia where they raise beef cattle, pigs and chickens as well as cats and two dogs.
Her life and interest in animals and agriculture led her to be active in the FFA and to volunteer at a local veterinary office.
âI do a lot of cleaning in the vet clinic with paperwork,â said Hurlburt. âI work with animals, but right now I’m just trying to learn how to handle them properly. “
She is active in the community, volunteering to help local firefighters. She led efforts to plan firefighters’ meals during two active fires, and when the Trempealeau County Fire Department Association hosted a training exercise at a house on Highway 93 in October, Hurlburt stepped in to make sure firefighters were fed.
âI decided to help the firefighters with their training exercise because my dad is in the fire department and I was at the scene of an accident before,â said Hurlburt. âI know guys really appreciate you doing things like this for them; it makes their day easier.
The food squad prepared three meals for the firefighters to keep them active throughout the day’s training exercise with a full lasagna dinner served at the end of the day.
Hurlburt is also expanding its efforts to help other members of its community by preparing meals for the elderly and disabled.
IN PHOTOS: Scenes from Ashley for the Arts 2021