I’m 13 years old and I’ve had a tough but great life so far. While my mother was still pregnant with me, doctors determined that I had a serious problem called diaphragmatic hernia. That means that I had a hole in my diaphragm that caused my intestines and stomach to rise up into my chest, crushing my lungs and heart. The doctor told my parents to end the pregnancy, that I would be handicapped or I would die. My parents refused to believe this. They prayed hard and found an amazing doctor in New York City, Dr. Charles Stoler. He was awesome and saved my life (thanks, Doc). My parents had hope that I would survive, so they named me Hope.
As life went on and doctors examined me, they found more problems. They labeled it as a syndrome (condition) that occurred during the pregnancy. I get sick a lot because I do not have a spleen (your spleen helps you fight infections). I also have asthma, which makes it hard to breathe. A big thing the doctors found was with my back and left shoulder that they called Sprangles Deformity. That keeps my head tilted and my shoulder raised up a bit. Between my diaphragmatic hernia and my shoulder, I had a total of six surgeries.
With my situation, I sometimes have some limits. I can’t raise both my arms over my head to the same height. I have to adapt and figure out ways to do some things others take for granted, like braiding my hair, putting my hair in a ponytail, lifting things or even climbing the monkey bars. Sometimes people can be mean, too. They stare at me or ask, “What’s your problem?” I just say, “That’s how God made me.” Some people ask just because they are curious and they try to be respectful. That’s OK.
I don’t let anything get in my way. I love to be active and love sports. I run, ride my bike and play with my friends. I just played basketball in a league and did pretty good. My coach loved my spirit. I play lacrosse for the Levittown Tomahawks. My coach loves my defense. I also played for the Salk Middle School team.
I just want to say that we are all a little different. Treat everyone the same. Let everyone have the chance to show you what they can do. I’m living proof.