I Am Seattle Children's

Natalie Merlo: I Am at Home

Natalie Merlo

Freshman at Villanova, from Mercer Island, Washington

I feel at home at Seattle Children’s. I’ve been coming here since I was 4. When I was little, I thought every kid came here to check up once a year and was surprised when my friends said they had never even been to Children’s. They were really missing out: I got to leave school for a day and meet amazing doctors who just wanted to talk about me.

Early this summer I had surgery to move my midface and upper jaw forward. I wore a brace on my head all summer to help support my changing bones. The surgery made several amazing changes. The biggest one is my breathing. Before the surgery, I couldn’t breathe through my nose because my airways were foggy and blocked. Now, I sleep easier and breathing through my mouth is a thing of the past. My cheekbones were the other problem. They used to be sunken and unable to do their main function of protecting my eyes. Not having to worry about my eyes is great, especially as I head off to college.

My condition wasn’t as severe as some people’s. But it still affected my life daily. Little things like breathing different, looking different, eating different, they add up.

I love Children’s – my providers are like aunts and uncles, like family. They are always there for me. It is clear they genuinely care. They have so much passion for what they do and so much joy for helping kids out. I can’t think of anything I have that kind of passion for yet – but watching their passion makes me want to find my own.

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Published in Connection magazine, September 2013