CHARELSTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Becky Smeltz loves to garden, but the 70-year-old had to give up all of her favorite hobbies after she started experiencing neck pain and difficulty breathing.

“I had trouble walking distances. I loved to do things with the grandchildren. We almost did nothing because it just was impossible to do very much without being exhausted and short of breath,” Becky recalled.

And, that included going on roller coasters with her grandkids.

“Oh, I do them all! Yes, yes,” she said with excitement.

Becky was desperate to figure out what was wrong and went to Cleveland Clinic to get checked out. There, doctors discovered she had diaphragm paralysis.

“Diaphragm paralysis is when that muscle of the diaphragm isn’t able to function as well as it could or function at all,” said Alejandro Bribriesco, MD, who specializes in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at Cleveland Clinic.

Dr. Bribriesco said sometimes diaphragm paralysis can heal on its own, so they decided to wait to see if that would be the case for Becky. However, she did ultimately need surgery, which went well.

“I usually perform this with four small incisions, just enough for my camera and the instruments. Then with a series of permanent stitches, just sewed down the diaphragm so that it’s taut and flat,” he said.

Becky said it felt amazing to breathe with ease again, especially since she had been dealing with this issue for two years.

“I could take a deep breath for the first time in those two years, and it felt really good,” she said. Now she’s back to going on thrill-seeking adventures with her grandkids. “I ride roller coasters again and I can walk and do everything I used to do,” she said.