Hello, everyone. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Xzaviar Aune. I am a 17 year old kid from Winona, MN. I want to take some time to share a piece of my story; where I started, how I got where I am a now, and where I hope to be in the future.
First I would like to rewind to my beginning for just a moment. I was born on Oct 20th, 1997, to Marshall and Tabetha. They were overjoyed with my arrival, but soon realized they and the doctors would be fighting for my life.
I was born with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN,) which is a life threatening illness. After overcoming that, my heart started having problems. I was then diagnosed with holes in my heart, which were called Atrial Septal Defect (or ASD,) then on top of that I had Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT,) big words for such a little guy. Crazy right?
The doctors took all measures necessary, from strong medications to a few heart procedures. I was in the hospital for months while my heart began to heal. The next three years of my life were spent in and out of the hospital. Then, shortly after I turned three, I got all the monitors off and medication was done, and my parents, with caution, were able to bring me home.
Then my life could begin.
Growing up I was able to be active in many sports, including boxing (which I did for about a year and a half,) wrestling (which I did for seven years,) and football (which is also a great passion of mine,) for nine years.
All of these things that I enjoyed doing came to a stop because, in the Winter of 2012, I went into heart failure. My SVT had come back after being ill with bad cold. This was pretty scary, and devastating to me. All of the things that I liked to do — I couldn’t do them anymore.
I had to wear a device to monitor my heart 24/7 for 30 days. The doctors, based on all of my monitored results, decided they would operate on my heart. May 17th of 2012 I went in and had a procedure done to once again mend my heart. They had to make 32 different freeze points in my heart to make it fire correctly. I was at that time diagnosed with having not only Typical AVNRT [another form of tachycardia] but Atypical AVNRT as well, which we were told is very rare so that is why they had to freeze so many fibers.
My heart was again on the mend, but now new things were happening, and I was feeling ill and light headed.
I was diagnosed with Autonomic Dysfunction. I was having a hard time with my blood pressure, and it would drop extremely low, which would make me dizzy and feel like I was going to faint every time I changed positions. With the great Doctors at Mayo, we were able to find good medication to help control these symptoms.
Over time I had worked hard to keep my heart in shape, to maintain my blood pressure and try to enjoy some other things. I was eventually given permission by doctors to play football again. Whoo hoo, this is great news!
However, would my heart go into failure again?
Is it safe for me to play?
I did play, but still had the thought in the back of mind always wondering and having concern for my heart. I needed something else to do, something that could give me just as much excitement, but not leave me wondering about my heart.
When I was 15 years old I picked up a pool cue for the first time at my dad and stepmom’s house. They had just moved to a new home, and had gotten a pool table. I had never played before, but it was so awesome.
That Christmas of 2012 my dad and stepmom got me my very first pool cue. Now I had my own, and I just wanted to play, and play. It was great because I could practice whenever I wanted. I would play so much that my brother would take a few of the cue balls and hide them so I would go to bed and not stay up all night playing pool.
I love this game so much, and when I first started I would always get this feeling in my stomach that was exciting, and just so much… it is hard to describe. Whenever I had that pool cue in my hands, it was like it was meant to be.
I have found something in my life that makes me feel excited and alive.
The best part is that it is not physically hurting me. I don’t have to worry so much about my heart. I feel fulfilled. Ever since my dad and stepmom got me my first pool cue, I haven’t been able to put it down. I always want to be playing pool.
With this new found passion that I have, and everything that I had been through in my life, and all the support I have had from others, I wanted to give back. I wanted to be a part of so much more than just a part of myself.
I’ve had a few ideas, and one was to maybe start a youth pool league at the Winona East End Rec. Helping other youth get involved with something that is so exciting. However, that didn’t work out.
So another idea that I had, one that I knew I could use to really try and help give back to others. Thinking of my recent heart procedure, I wanted to give children who are sick, or needing to have surgery and be in the hospital, some comfort. I came up with Zavy’s Lovies.
They are a small blankets or pillow cases that the parents of the children would sleep with or hold, then give it to their child. This way the child would have the scent of their parent by them to bring them comfort during their difficult time. I make these blankets and pillow cases and have donated some to the Ronald McDonald House. I also sell them and a portion of the proceeds also go to the Ronald McDonald House.
My heart health is a big guide in my life. It has given me so much to think about in life, what is important and what direction I need to go. Pool is something that has also given me hope. I played in my first big tournament at a Wisconsin State Juniors Tournament in Nakoosa, WI.
I was so nervous. I ended up placing second. Second place in my first tournament, I was happy with that, it was an awesome experience; one I had never had before, and will never forget.
Pool is a game that I want to get out more to others. I would like to keep it going and reach out to youth and to the community, doing whatever it takes to help keep our community a peaceful place. I think if youth have something like pool — because not all youth may be able to play a more physical sport — it could help keep them out of trouble. Keep them involved with the community and not be bored. This is one reason I want to keep the sport of pool going.
When I had my heart surgery I had really thought to myself that I couldn’t play physical sports anymore. Like I mentioned before, the doctors said it was fine. However, only I would know at any given time what I was feeling, how I think I might feel, or what I feel I am up to physically doing.
When I started shooting pool, it took away those scary thoughts. It’s relaxing and exciting all at the same time, but I now know it’s not going to give my heart problems.
My hopes are to be able to represent other teams, persons, or even businesses. I take my life, my new pool career, and helping others very seriously. I hope to someday be a World Champion Pool Shooter.
I am a polite kid, I am passionate about what I do, and I love to help others, no matter what age. Volunteering is something that I love to do as well, and in the last year I have done a little over a thousand hours. All of this makes me beyond happy!
So, this is me, a piece of my story. Where I have started from, where I am now, and where I hope to be in the future. I have met so many people in my journey, have had and gained a lot of supporters. I cannot wait to see where this life brings me, and meet many new people along the way. I am proud to be part of the WAPPA, and the Jacoby team. With their great support I am sure I will have a big future in that game of pool.
Photos: provided by author
Editor: Hannah Blue