By: Kiara Martin
My name is Kiara Martin and I am from Savannah, Georgia. Disfigurement to me, means being special. It means God, or whoever you believe is the creator, gave you a little extra to stand out, because she/he knew you were special.
I was born with scoliosis. Scoliosis is when the spine curves to one side. When I was a baby, I was also diagnosed with cancer on my ribs. To fix that problem, the doctors removed five of my ribs. My feelings towards my diagnosis is always changing; at the moment I am ok with it.
Fast-forward to 2011; I had another surgery to correct the curve of my back a little more. It went well, but it caused me to develop chronic respiratory failure and thus, my lungs have become more restrictive. Living without five ribs means that when I breathe in and out, I don’t get enough oxygen in my lungs. Because of all of the other diagnoses that have spurred from my scoliosis, I am learning to just accept it and live my best life.
If I were asked 9 years ago whether my condition was part of my identity, I would say no. Having scoliosis did not stop me from doing anything I put my mind to. I have a beautiful daughter. I completed my bachelor’s degree in social work and did that with honors, while carrying an oxygen tank. It was not easy, the tank was heavy, but I still made it to all my classes and meetings on time. I pat myself on the back every time I think about it. If I am honest, I would now say that scoliosis is part of my identity because my life is not the same and because of it, it is a little harder.
My new diagnoses, chronic respiratory failure and lung disease have changed me. I can’t but think that when I see it on paper, it sounds scary. It has affected my daily living. I have to do everything slower, no more rushing. I have trouble just walking around my home. I wear oxygen 24/7, and without it, I cannot breathe. Stress is a BIG no-no. Things like getting dressed, taking showers, driving, and working is harder to do and it takes so much out of me. I believe that most of my family and friends don’t understand and are having a hard time adjusting to the “new me.”
When I am feeling down about my new normal I cope by listening to music; it helps me a lot. Praying helps me a lot too. I am in the process of starting a non-profit called “Moms Like Me”, to help other moms by providing support and encouragement through challenging diagnoses like mine. I want it to become an organization that helps women all over the world. I want to be remembered as someone that encourages others to do what they aspire to do. I believe anything can be accomplished if you have faith and you try.
You can follow Kiara’s journey @moms_likeme