Read Josephine's real story to find out more about tracheostomy's and having a different voice.
It all started when I was born in Japan; believe it or not I was born three and a half months premature.
I was born along with my twin sister. We were tiny! My father said our heads were the size of oranges!
When I was born I was born breech (bottom first, instead of head first). Some people born breech suffer no problems or damage, (except for giving their mothers a hard time) but I was one of those little babies that did.
Because I was born breech my vocal cords got damaged. By the time I was born, I wasn't able to make a sound. I cried, not with a loud cry like most babies, but silently. It was like heavy breathing sounds. Around the time when I was one and a half I needed a tracheostomy.
This is a surgical procedure in which they have to make an incision in the trachea and place an opening in it for it to expand called a tracheostomy. The opening it makes is called a stoma.
I also had lots of difficulty breathing. I was on machines and with tubes and all that stuff for about two whole years. Every now and then I was allowed to go home, but then I would make myself be rushed in an ambulance to the emergency room because I had pulled out all of the tubes, causing myself to not be able to breathe. I was rushed to the hospital countless times during my first two years.
I had had about three operations in different countries and the doctors still couldn't fix it. Eventually, I went to a hospital in Switzerland, where they gave me the final operation that gave me the ability to talk. It sounded really 'airy' at first, but it got a bit better. Apparently I talked sucking IN the air, instead of blowing it OUT.
I needed physiotherapy a lot of the week, speech therapy, and loads more. I'd been in bed most of my life, so that's why the physio was so crucial. One of my legs needed a lot of practice as it was incredibly stiff because of all the lying down for rest. Because of this I couldn't hop or skip on that leg until I was 10-years-old.
While I was a baby and in hospital so much I made it to a few newspapers in the countries I was in. I still have those in a special folder all about when I was in hospital.
The road to recovery
You might wonder if I made a full recovery, and I guess you can argue either way. Yes, I did, because I am absolutely happy and healthy and have lots of hobbies (horse riding, piano playing, I love my dog and two cats). I haven't had a problem since I was about 10-years-old. For years I had to occasionally use a special machine for when you get weezy, especially for me, but I haven’t used that in about three years.
The only thing left of my time in the hospital and such when I grew up is the scar I have on my neck (after the countless operations) which by the way, is getting fainter over the years, although it will never disappear. The main thing left from the ordeal is my voice. You see, I don't speak with my vocal chords. I use something underneath my vocal chords, although I'm not sure what it is.
My vocal chords
Because my vocal chords got damaged can't use them. Because of this my voice sounds incredibly hoarse all the time. Kind of when you have a very sore throat, except that my throat isn't sore, my voice just sounds like it. I've had some speech lessons, but then my teacher got married and moved away. I don\'t mind having this voice, because it's what I've grown up with. If I didn't have this voice I wouldn't have any voice at all (I'd be mute).
I'm incredibly thankful for the doctors that gave me the opportunity to speak! Sometimes people tease me or make remarks but I simply ignore them. Or I say something back at them which usually scares them off.
Meeting somebody else like me
One of my dreams in life is to actually meet someone my age or so who also had/has a tracheotomy. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person in the world with this, just because I've never seen anyone else with this problem. Just so you know it's not really a problem. It's a part of me!
My voice makes me who I am and makes me unique from others! If you have had or have a tracheotomy can you please post a comment on this site!
Thank you for reading my story!
This story may have been edited for editorial and confidentiality reasons only.