What kind of health complications did you have when you were younger?
I was born 10 weeks early and was two pounds, 13 ounces. I was born without my esophagus connected to my stomach, so I couldn’t eat. I had my first surgery when I was 16 hours old. They had to go in and jumble up my organs so I could live.
Whoa. How long did it take you to recover from that?
It took me a couple weeks. I was in the ICU for three or four weeks. And when I actually got home, I had to be in this incubator thing and I had to be fed food through a tube and I couldn’t eat with my mouth for awhile.
Do you experience any health difficulties now?
Ever since I was little, I’ve had pneumonia really, really often. One year, I had it like five times. I’m just often sick like all the time since my immune system hasn’t fully developed, so it’s easier for me to get sick than other people.
So you have a lot of different complications, not just one specific condition?
Yeah. And also when I do get sick it doesn’t just stay one thing. It evolves into multiple different things. You can’t really stop it with one medication. I’m kind of like a lab rat for tons of different medications.
You’ve mentioned you also had anxiety issues. Can you talk more about that?
It’s kind of like a cycle. I’m either stressed or I have a lot of anxiety and that makes me sick, or I’m sick and I get a lot of anxiety around that. So it’s really hard to track what’s impacting what.
What’s it like having to deal with all that?
It’s basically like a day-to-day struggle. I like to think of myself as an old person. I’ve been told by a lot of people that I’m pretty mature for my age. I guess it comes with having to be in charge of myself a lot and take control.
What do you mean?
For me, to be in control of my health means that I can be in control of myself, and anxiety and stress. It gives me a sense of power. I know what is going on with my body and I can control that.
Even though you’re self sufficient, is there anyone else you rely on to help you get through it?
Definitely my family. I have a lot of people I can rely on and that’s really great to have. And also being super close with my mom, my dad and my stepdad since they have to go through this with me.
How do you see yourself moving forward? Do you think your health will improve?
Some things I can’t change, which kind of sucks. But I definitely am always trying to get better and do more with my life and just try to overcome obstacles as they come.
You are a member of Ovation, which is part of the Portland Choirs. What’s your favorite part about singing?
It’s really cool because we’re all like a big family. Singing has been a part of my life since I could talk. It is basically a work out, so it just lifts me up and makes me feel a lot better.
What else do you like to do?
Disney movies make me happy. My all-time favorite movie is ‘Mary Poppins.’ When I was little, I watched it back-to-back every single day and that was what got me into singing. It keeps me in a good mood.
Where do you get your motivation to keep fighting?
It kind of comes with me being like an old person. I’ve always tried to look on the bright side. I was brought up to be a good person. Just looking back at what I’ve been through, even though I probably can’t remember half of it, it just makes me appreciate everything so much more. Knowing that I might not have survived as a baby, it just totally changes my view on life. ◊