Breath control is something every performer must master. For dancers, good breathing technique can add not only to endurance, but also to fluidity and grace. It can add power to an actor’s speech. Breath control is especially important and challenging for 18-year old Kendrick Trujillo, who suffers from severe asthma and allergies. Thanks to his multidisciplinary team at National Jewish Health, Trujillo has mastered breath control well enough to pursue dance and theatre studies as he heads off to college.
Trujillo has suffered life-threatening asthma attacks since he was an infant. He recalls the time a wet dog triggered an attack that sent him to the emergency room, sirens blaring. “I felt lightheaded and couldn’t breathe; I started shaking and throwing up. An ambulance took me to the hospital,” Trujillo said. “It was a very, very close call.”
Trujillo came to National Jewish Health for Kids as a young child. Since then, he has been cared for by a whole team of specialists, including an allergist, pulmonologist, psychologist and nurse, who work together to determine the best way to keep their patients healthy and active.
“It is more than just medications that determine a patient’s health,” said Ronina Covar, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and director of the Pediatric Severe Asthma Clinic. “It is also their support system, their lifestyle and the self-awareness to care for themselves.”
“Kendrick is a busy teenager who juggles after-school activities, academics and work,” said pediatric allergist Kanwaljit Brar, MD. “We have been able to incorporate a daily asthma regimen into Kendrick’s busy life. By maintaining control of his asthma, he will be able to continue pursuing his passion for dancing.”
Trujillo recently began his first year of college, studying theatre education. He has taken with him all he learned about mastering his asthma and his breath control. “The secret is staying on top of my meds and exercising my lungs,” Trujillo said. “I train my lungs by staying active. I dance for hours every day and then have theatre rehearsals on top of that.”
Even though Trujillo is away from home, his support system will remain in place, and even grow. National Jewish Health will schedule follow-up appointments when he visits Denver, and help him find a doctor near his university in case of an exacerbation. “As long as music exists, I will dance,” said Trujillo.