Intrepid cyclist Katie shares her own experience of growing up after being born extremely premature…
My name is Katie Hendry and I was born at 23 weeks in March 1995, weighing 1lb 07 ounces.
I spent the first 6 months of my life being oxygenated in Hillingdon Hospital under the intensive and special care baby unit. When I was just a few months old I was taken to Hammersmith Hospital for laser eye surgery to save my eyesight which had been damaged by the amount of oxygen I had been on. I wear glasses all the time now.
My lungs were very weak when I was born and were not formed properly. When I came home from hospital in the September I was kept on oxygen for another 2 years - wherever my mum and dad went they had to carry the oxygen cylinder around with them.
I live at home with my mum, dad, older brother and sister in West Sussex. I also have a little terrier cross called Suzi. I have chosen a career in Administration and have just successfully completed my Level 2 Business and Administration qualification. I am about to start my Level 3 course.
I have always had incredibly strong support and encouragement from my family and close friends throughout my whole life. This has certainly played a huge part in achieving my goals and getting me to where I am today.
Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my friends and family and walking down the beach with my dog. I volunteer on a Saturday morning to help an elderly lady clean her house which I have been doing for 3 years. I enjoy helping her because I have always been interested in caring for other people.
I feel that being extremely premature hasn’t stopped me enjoying life like any other person. Unfortunately I am unable to learn to drive due my eyesight being so damaged by the oxygen when I was a baby. I am unable to pass the number plate test but I have bought myself a bike so I have my own mode of transport, however I am still able to reach the goals and aspirations I have in my life.
Being premature does make me realise how lucky I am to be here today and to have received the outstanding care I did when I was a baby.
I really enjoy being a part of Epicure and keeping up to date with all the research they do to help other babies who are premature and their families. I am very much looking forward to taking part in Epicure@19.
Update from Katie November 2017
I first wrote about my experiences of being born extremely premature back in April 2014. When I decided to write about what it has been like to be born at 23 weeks in 1995, I was working in Debt Management and studying towards a Business and Administration Apprenticeship. I successfully passed both Level 2 and 3 and experienced learning new skills on the job for 2 years.
Things have slightly changed from my original piece of writing. In October 2014, I started my first job as a Care Assistant which I very much enjoyed as it has always been in my interest to care for people. I completed my Health and Social Care Level 2. Whilst working as a Care Assistant, it made me realise that making a difference to someone’s life is very rewarding. I became more and more interested in becoming a Nurse, which has always been a profession I would like to be a part of. In the year of 2016, I completed an Access Course in Health Sciences at my local college. Successful completion of this would enable me to continue onto Higher Education.
Following the achievement of my Access Course, many interviews later, I am now studying at University in my first year of Adult Nursing. This is a huge success for me and I feel incredibly proud to be where I am. It has been difficult at times but even coming into the world 17 weeks early, it can be possible!