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Journalist discusses fear, overcoming obstacles

My whole life I have had no difficulty playing sports. At three, I started to play soccer and have played ever since. I had no major injuries or problems with my body until the summer of 2015. At a routine physical, my pediatrician told me I had Pectus Excavatum.

Pectus Excavatum is a chest well deformity caused by an overgrowth in the cartilage of my chest. Side effects of the deformity include decreased endurance, trouble breathing, chest pain and altered physical appearance.

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Freshman Jacob Hyatt, Feather journalist.

My pediatrician referred us to the Kaiser Permanente in March of 2016. The doctor noticed how thin I was and was scared to do the operation. She was very honest and revealed that she hadn’t done the operation in seven years.

Board certified pediatric surgeon, Dr. Michael Allshouse met with me and my family to properly assess what was happening to my chest, June 2016. He was forth coming with the problem and properly explained it. He told me that my chest wall cartilage was overgrown.

Allshouse is a world renowned pediatric surgeon. His main office is in Valley Children’s but he travels the country to do other surgeries. Allshouse trained under Dr. Donald Nuss, inventor of the Nuss procedure. The University of California San Francisco explains what the Nuss procedure is.

“The Nuss procedure also aims to force the sternum forward and hold it there with an implanted steel bar,” Nuss explained, “but without making a big incision to resect the abnormal cartilage. In this procedure, the curved steel bar is placed under the sternum through two small incisions on the sides of the chest. Because the sternum is forced outward and held under great pressure, the Nuss procedure results in more pain and discomfort than the modified Ravitch procedure. The steel structs must remain in place for approximately 2-4 years in order to properly reform the chest.”

Knowing that I would have a surgical steel bar inside of me was scary. It was weird to have a foreign object inside of me. My family helped me through it by praying with me and researching all my options.

Allshouse gave us sometime to think about my options. I could go with the Nuss procedure and be out of sports for six weeks or be out for six months with the more invasive Ravitch procedure. We went with the Nuss procedure because I would only be out of sports for a little while compared to six months.

Feather Staff | The Feather Online

Hyatt began playing soccer at a young age.

The surgery was then scheduled for Dec. 13, 2016. Leading up to the procedure, I was frightened to think that I would be in the hospital for five days.

Once I woke up I was in tons of pain. I had bruising across my whole chest and major fatigue. I couldn’t get up and walk, I couldn’t shower, and I couldn’t focus on one thing due to the pain.

I felt horrible. I felt that I couldn’t do anything for myself. The first night after surgery I was in an insane amount of pain. Nurses woke me up every four hours for me to take pills and drink fluids. I was on heavy pain medications to suppress the pain and my parents told me that I was loopy. Getting past that first night was my main goal.

The day after my surgery my parents allowed people to come see me. Many people showed their support from the school by bringing food, candy, and just spending time with me and my parents.

I spent five days in the hospital. With help from the nurses I was able to walk again, have my appetite back again and wene off of the heavy pain medication. I was released from the hospital, Dec. 18.

That night was one of the worst I’ve ever had. I remember waking up my parents because I was yelling in my sleep. Being previously stressed out about staying in the hospital, my parents wanted to just check me back in. I told them I could push through it and I eventually got used to the pain.

Sam Cross | The Feather Online

Bryce Foshee, ’21, (left to right) Lorenzo Fierro, ’21, Hannah Villines, ’21, and Hunter Raynes, ’21, visit Hyatt during his stay in the hospital.

Being out of sports for three months was the most difficult thing to handle. Sports have been a major part of my life, and having that taken away was a huge thing for me to lose. I am grateful that I had this break though. It gave me a chance to focus on school and church. I had a chance to take a break from rushing everywhere to play sports.

This break was good at the beginning, but I began to miss playing sports. It was hard for me to watch my friends playing sports without me.

Once the three months were over, I started to play soccer and run track again. I had one of my best seasons of high jump and achieved a personal best of jumping 5’,11″. Coming back to soccer I was rusty but my coach was very understanding, helping me to gain my confidence back.

From this whole experience, I’ve learned to push through the tough times because they will get better. Even though I have a surgical steel bar inside of me, I still play competitive soccer, compete in track and start for Fresno Christian soccer.

For more columns, read COLUMN: Roman Endicott discusses life choices. For more feature articles, read Christian campus offers students various opportunities.

Jacob Hyatt can be reached via Twitter or via email

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