Emily Bosler was diagnosed with hypertension at the age of 13. Though she has a strong family history of high blood pressure — both her parents have it — it was a shocking and unexpected diagnosis at such a young age.
However, Bosler’s positive and inspiring experience at Akron Children’s Hospital changed her life for the better — and it wasn’t just because of the incredible care she received here. She had a change of heart on her negative perception of medicine and now is an aspiring physician.
“Meeting and being a patient of Dr. (Shefali) Mahesh opened my eyes to a possible new career path in medicine,” said Bosler, 21. “What Dr. Mahesh is for me, I want to be for other kids. She treated me as a team member and included me in care decisions, and she spoke to me as an adult, instead of talking over my head to my parents.”
In the fall of 2012, Bosler was experiencing frequent headaches, had a sore throat and was vomiting. She was diagnosed with strep throat, but it was during that routine sick visit that a dangerously high blood pressure of 220 over 120 was detected. She was immediately referred to Akron Children’s.
Bosler spent her first night in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to control her blood pressure. She then was transferred to an inpatient floor, where Dr. Shefali Mahesh, Akron Children’s director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, ordered several tests, including an echocardiogram and kidney ultrasound, to get to the root cause of her high blood pressure.
“Emily was found to have thickening of the left side of her heart, which suggests that she had had hypertension that had been undiagnosed and untreated for a while,” said Dr. Mahesh. “Left untreated, it could cause long-term damage to her heart, kidneys and eyes, among other organs.”
Bosler was diagnosed with Essential Hypertension, a common cause of hypertension in adults. She was released from the hospital on 3 blood pressure medications, along with dietary changes and weight management.
Bosler’s experience at Akron Children’s was something she had never had before. Growing up in a small town, East Canton, she didn’t have a lot of access to medical care. She didn’t go to the doctor often, but when she did, the provider wasn’t always friendly, many times was mean about her weight and didn’t include her in any decision making.
“I’ve been overweight my whole life, but for the first time a provider encouraged me to lose weight in a supportive manner,” said Bosler. “Dr. Mahesh explained to me that by just taking baby steps, losing one pound at a time, it would improve my condition tremendously.”
Through treatment, Bosler’s care team has been successful in reversing her heart thickening. “Her most recent echocardiogram was completely normal,” said Dr. Mahesh, who continues to monitor Bosler on a regular basis. “Her kidney function is also normal and she is only on 1 blood pressure medication.”
Prior to entering high school, Bosler enrolled in a program at NEOMED (Northeast Ohio Medical University) called Med Camp. It’s a 3-day, hands-on experience that exposes students to careers in medicine and sciences. It further ignited her desire to follow a career in medicine.
Today, Bosler is a third-year student at Youngstown State University in a premed program called BaccMed, in conjunction with NEOMED and Lake Erie College.
While she’s not sure where her medical path will lead her — either a pediatrician or a pediatric specialist — she hopes to one day give back for the incredible treatment she was so privileged to receive.
Bosler would enjoy working close to home and making a difference in rural medicine, but if the opportunity presented itself to work at the very place where her story began, she’d take it in a heartbeat.
“It would be neat to go full circle and end up at Akron Children’s,” she said. “The environment here is great for patients and families. I met many people because I was in several areas of the hospital for all the different tests I had done, and instead of making me afraid of doctors, they inspired me to become one.”
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