I've always been a quiet girl and I can't say I've always fit in with the other girls. I was, however, a very good student and a known member of the community. I was "known," but I didn't feel as if I were an important part of something bigger; I was just a number.
A year ago, in January 2010, something was amiss. I hadn't eaten much, hoping less food would ease the knifelike pains in my stomach. My head hurt too, but I guess I wasn't surprised, I'd been feeling like this for more than a month.
I had been avoiding a trip to the doctor's office and was convinced I could tough this one out. Besides doctor visits were pricey, and I could hardly stand asking my parents for inexpensive necessities. My dad, always more nurturing than my mother, took me with empty pockets to the Crystal Lake Clinic in downtown Frankfort.
Four needles later they were able to tell me I had small veins, a low blood count and a lack of iron. On Thursday my dad called and they told him the hospital was probably a better place for me. On Sunday my mom took me to Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital where they pierced me with 10 needles to find that I had lost another 70 percent of my red blood cells.
The doctor spoke to my mother loud enough to hear through the door, so I edged a little closer to hear him better.
"There isn't much we can do. She's dying."
My heart sank, and it sank, until it could sink no more. I have never been so scared in my entire life. I remember lying, petrified, on the hospital bed, hearing the crunchy, plastic sheets and feeling the silent tears escape down my cheeks. The doctor returned, and instead of telling me I was hopeless, like I expected, he told me I could be helped, but since I was only 15, I'd have to be shipped down to the Helen Devos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.