My deep blue eyes filled with tears as I was told that I would be re-admitted to the hospital for the fourth time in a year. I was sick and tired of hospitals and didn't want to spend any more time in them. I knew I was too sick to be at home, but I was at the point where I'd rather die than spend another day in the hospital. However, I wiped the tears from my eyes and forced a smile onto my face. I collected my things and walked out of the exam room and made my way over to hospital admission. My mom walked quietly at my side, sadness reflecting from her eyes, as she too thought about the last nine months.
It has all started in July of that summer. I had just returned from my freshman year at The University of Florida (UF) and was ready to work during the summer in order to make money for the coming school year. My time at UF had been a blast and I was so excited to return. I had joined the club lacrosse team, the previous fall, and it had been one of the best decisions I had made. I loved the team. I loved the sport. When I began I knew nothing about playing lacrosse. I didn't even know what a penny was. When they told us to bring one to the first practice, I assumed they meant a coin penny verse the reversible jersey that we would wear when we scrimmaged to differentiate who were your teammates and who were your opponents. I learned how to play lacrosse that year and while I was no where near the talent level of our first string players I could cradle, pass and (most of the time) catch the ball. More importantly the girls on the team had become a kind of family to me and I loved them all dearly. I couldn't wait to see them again in the fall, but that wasn't to be the case.
I had lived all my life with stomach problems. Certain foods would send me into vomiting fits and I frequently dealt with cramps and irregular stools. That July, however, my stomach took a turn for the worst. I would eat at night and still be full the next morning. I would usually go for a run each morning and sometimes that would help move things out of my stomach, but other times I would vomit after my run, vomiting food that I had eaten the night before. In August the doctor's did an exploratory laparoscopic surgery in order to see if there was anything growing on the outside of my intestines, that was impeding my digestion. The surgery didn't reveal anything. So a couple weeks later I had a surgery to have a G-J (gastric-jejunal) tube placed into my stomach. The G portion of the tube continuously drained out all the liquids in my stomach, into a bag attached to the tube. The J portion of the tube was threaded through my stomach into the second part of my small intestine. It was through the J tube that I received my nutrition.
After I received the G-J tube I spent about a month in the hospital. I was released, but returned a week later for dehydration. The next stay also lasted a month. I was out of the hospital for about four months and was then readmitted that January. When I was released the first week of February I thought my hospital stays were over, but sadly I was once again admitted about a week later. As I mentioned above I was heart broken and didn't want to see another hospital room, but I reluctantly agreed to the admission.
During this year my biggest fear was that I would lose my place on the lacrosse team. I was afraid that my new family would forget about me and that I would become merely an after thought. Little did I know how wrong I was.
It was about the second week of my fourth hospital admission and I was beyond depressed. My eyes reflected a deep sorrow and emptiness that I felt on the inside. I was supposed to be in my sophomore year of college, not sitting in a hospital room. I contemplated why I was still fighting, for giving up seemed like the best option at the moment. I wanted to leave this world. To be done with the pain, sadness and depression. I was lonely. I wanted a normal life. I knew that my life wouldn't ever again be normal and I debated whether that was the type of life I wanted to live. I wasn't contemplating suicide, but I just didn't want to keep fighting to live.
So, at one of the lowest moments of my life, I decided to log on to facebook as see what my friends were doing in hopes of cheering myself up. When I logged on I saw a notification that said I had been tagged in several pictures... Me... In pictures? That didn't make sense, I was in the hospital and no one had been taking pictures, at least not to my knowledge. I then saw that Nicole White, had tagged me in the pictures and my confusion only grew, because Nicole White was one of my teammates on the lacrosse team.
Nicole White started playing on the lacrosse team the same year I did. We were both freshmen, but that's where the similarities ended. While she was an incredible player and was part of the first string from the moment she joined the team, I was a newbie and at the completely opposite end of the talent spectrum. She was a player full of passion and watching her on the field was truly a show in and of itself. I was never close to her and honestly believed she didn't like me, but that perception was completely wrong.
As I clicked on the notification, up popped a picture of me with some of the girls on the team. When I say me, I mean a cardboard cut-out of a blown up picture of me. Nicole White had designed it and had brought it along on the team's travel tournament to California. So even though I was in the hospital I was also in California. I lived vicariously, that week, through all the pictures that Nicole posted on facebook. It was the push I needed to keep fighting. It filled up my hope tank and gave me a reason to live. For in the one simple act, Nicole showed me that I wasn't alone. That I hadn't been forgotten. That I was still loved. She showed me that I couldn't give up because they wanted to see my face again. I'll never forget how Nicole White brought me to California while I was in the hospital. For it kept me from succumbing to the dark thoughts that threatened to destroy me and gave me the strength to push on for one more day.
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