Evan Krueger is a third-year human biology student at the University of Toronto. A year and a half ago, he was diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome and had an S-ICD placed. He got involved with the Canadian SADS Foundation soon after, and is now a volunteer who manages their newly-created Instagram page and other social media pages.
Get to know more about Evan below!
Can you tell me a little bit about your SADS journey – from diagnosis to where you are today?
I was diagnosed with Brugada Syndrome about a year and a half ago after an E.R. visit for a separate issue, where doctors discovered a Type 1 pattern. It was a long journey – especially because it happened during COVID, so everything took longer than usual. Eventually my medical team and I decided that my best treatment option was having an S-ICD implanted – now I’m protected, and live a healthy and happy life with my ICD. After that, I got involved with the Canadian SADS Foundation.
What challenges did you face after diagnosis?
For me, it wasn’t the condition itself – it was getting a medical device at my age. You usually think of cardiac devices as something implanted in older patients, and having an S-ICD at a young age made me think I was different than other people my age, and couldn’t do what others my age could do. I learned quickly that wasn’t the reality. I’m able to do everything I did before the implant, while having additional protection. It’s made me more comfortable with my diagnosis.
What encouragement or advice would you give someone who’s receiving their first ICD?
Don’t always think of the worst-case scenario. It’s good to have a contingency plan in place, but at least for me, what-if scenarios didn’t really help – they just made me more anxious and stressed out. You have to trust that your device will do its job if it needs to – that’s the first step in getting comfortable with your condition.
“Take one step at a time, and during the process, don’t be afraid to get help. It’s a big change in your life getting an implant, and it takes time to recover mentally and physically – and that’s totally normal.”
Ask questions – your healthcare team is there to support you. That includes your doctors, nurses, the device representative for your ICD – those are experts, and there’s never a stupid question to ask. Google is convenient but not the best source of information. It’s often inaccurate or outdated.
Take one step at a time, and during the process, don’t be afraid to get help. It’s a big change in your life getting an implant, and it takes time to recover mentally and physically – and that’s totally normal. If you need help during that process, it’s important to seek a mental health professional. It’s also helpful to talk with others with similar conditions, like in the SADS Foundation’s ICD Support Group – this isn’t something you have to deal with alone.
The importance of mental health support after a device implant is something that’s been overlooked in the past, and I hope physicians can also keep that in mind. I think it should be part of the treatment plan.
How did you get involved with the Canadian SADS Foundation, and what’s your role there?
I become involved with SADS Foundation in Canada not too long after my diagnosis. I reached out to Pam Husband, the director, and quickly found that volunteering with the Canadian SADS Foundation was the best way for me to cope with my condition – to talk with other people in the community. It’s been rewarding, and the best way to get to know others and involve myself. I’m in charge of the social media content.