Age: 20

Condition: Idiopathic subglottic stenosis (ISS)

Procedure: Resection surgery

Hometown: Hinsdale, Massachusetts

In high school, I was a 16-year-old three-sport athlete. One day during soccer tryouts, I was unable to catch my breath or breathe easily. After many appointments with my local primary care doctor, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor and pulmonologist, I was diagnosed with idiopathic subglottic stenosis (ISS), a narrowing of the voice box and trachea.

I came to Massachusetts General Hospital for three of my dilations (widening procedure of the trachea). In total, I received five dilations. I had resection surgery (removal of the constricted section of the trachea) at the end of December 2017 with Dr. Mathisen. He has been the absolute best provider. 

During my last dilation in August 2017, he said that I should consider resection surgery because the scar was coming back quicker and stronger than before. The scar tissue kept coming back in the same spot on my trachea above my voice box. My breathing was limited when I exercised. At its worst, even walking up a flight of stairs made me lose my breath. The smallest my trachea has ever been was the size of a straw, but this was resolved with my fifth dilation. To prevent it from coming back, Dr. Mathisen suggested getting the surgery and I’m so grateful I did! He gave my mom and I all the information we needed to know and learn more about the process, making me feel beyond comfortable going into surgery.

His team is just as outstanding and my week stay at Mass General was a breeze. I am 20 years old and now know what it feels like to breathe normally again. I am so grateful that I went through with the resection. I’d rate the whole process a 10! I couldn’t be happier. Thank you to Dr. Mathisen, his team and Mass General!