My name is Keri Johnson. As a recent 2010 high school graduate at the University of Akron majoring in radiology, my parents and relatives are extremely proud of my accomplishments considering just 19 years ago I was born 3 months premature with a birth weight of 1 lb. 6 oz.
I also had a twin brother that died 5 days after birth. It was a rough, touch and go start for my first 3 years of life.
I was in the NICU at Akron Children’s Hospital for the first 10 months of my life dealing with multiple health problems. During the 10 months I spent most of the time on the ventilator.
Along with this, I was the guinea pig for experimental medicine. I had a tracheotomy put in before 5 months of age. After 10 months I went home for the first time.
My bedroom ended up being a mini intensive care unit where I was confined with a ventilator and other equipment. I had 24 hour home care for the first 3 years of life. After I came home it seemed like every holiday I would go back into the hospital.
Within the first 3 years of life I died 6 times. Because of the trach, I could not eat or speak until age 3 when the tube was removed. So during that time I had occupational and speech therapy.
At age 2 I was only able to play for 2 hours and the rest of the day I was attached to a ventilator to breathe so I wouldn’t put strain on my heart. For the 2 hours of playtime I wore the “trach collar” which allowed me to breath on my own.
I was fortunate that by the time I was school age, I was able to live a normal life and do the same things as my classmates since I was not as sickly. In high school, I played the Alto Saxophone in band and loved every minute of it.
Currently, I fortunately don’t have any major medical issues resulting from when I was little. Although I do have high blood pressure, which to me is considered a minor issue considering what could have happened.
Having high blood pressure for me has been positive in a way. It helped me decide to study radiology in college. This was determined after the first kidney ultrasound and echocardiogram I had to determine the cause of the high blood pressure. I was fascinated at seeing the body working and the technology itself.
Even still when I have these tests as check up I am still fascinated. After being so fascinated I knew this was what I wanted to go into. Also, I wanted to go into this field so that I can help people so they hopefully will not get as sick as I was.
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure 8 years ago and the nephrology department at Akron Children’s has been so good.
I just want to show parents especially the neonatal intensive care unit parents that even though one sometimes has no idea what is going to happen just remember the miracle children that went through the same or similar situation you and your child are going through and know that you aren’t the only one.
Just keep thinking positively even though it is tough. And some day you could have a miracle story of your own to tell and be proud of just like my parents and family.