My senior year of high school, I felt like I was on top of the world, as I prepared to start a new chapter of my life. I had just wrapped my biggest theater role to date, and I was about to begin college as a drama and dance major, focusing on musical theater. Then, before moving to my new school, I got into a car accident. At the time, doctors confirmed I broke my collarbone, but there weren’t any other major injuries. I noticed one of my ribs also didn’t feel right, but I was told they were fine.
After recovering from my collarbone injury, the pain and discomfort in my rib didn’t go away. The sensation was often like being on a roller coaster, I would feel like my stomach was lifting, and I couldn’t take full breaths. I saw multiple specialists, but no one could explain what was going on. So I went on to college, kept performing, kept dancing, and kept pushing myself.
But nearly four years after my car accident, my rib was getting worse. There was something so jarring about the fact that it was right in my midsection, in the center of my body, the area that was supposed to give me power and balance while performing.
I was young, and I had trouble advocating for myself, even though deep down I knew something was wrong in my body. However, it was so hard to know what to do when specialists were telling me I was fine.
That is, until the day I passed out on stage. My rib had shifted so it was pushing against my lung, and I couldn’t breathe. I went to the emergency room, where the doctors confirmed my rib was broken. They guessed that during my car accident, there was a slight break, and then it got worse and worse and worse until it was a full break. Again, they reassured me it would heal itself. But it hadn’t happened previously, so I was skeptical.
At that point, I was at a pivotal moment: I thought I knew what my life was supposed to be, and I was determined to be on stage. But suddenly, I was forced to take a step back and be introspective about whether or not that was the right choice for my health.