January 30, 2011
"I was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia- basically a hole in the diaphragm. It’s a life-threatening condition for infants. Part of the condition is that most of the organs are basically squished up into the ribcage, which prevents development of the heart and lungs. On my left side there was a partially formed lung, and on the right side was only lung tissue. When I was about 5 days old I had surgery to correct all of this- clearly a risky operation. They successfully patched up my diaphragm and moved everything to where it was supposed to be (although my stomach is now facing backwards) and even took out my appendix while they were in there.
My doctors predicted that although my lungs would probably develop normally, I would be severely inhibited by shortness of breath and asthma for my entire life. I would never be able to run, participate in sports, or anything like that. They said I probably wouldn’t even be able to walk without getting out of breath.
These days, I do suffer from asthma, but I am also a singer. My diaphragm does not expand correctly, so all of my muscles in my chest have adapted so that I can breathe a bit deeper and sing, as well as playing multiple wind instruments. I was in marching band for 3 years of high school, playing snare drum (hauling around 20 pounds of dead weight). I racewalked on my high school’s track team. I do get out of breath somewhat quickly, but it does not stop me, and I have far exceeded all the expectations of my surgeon and doctors. I’m not the best, and sometimes it IS hard to remember, but if I’ve pushed through this my entire life, the rest is just small potatoes."