Last fall, I was looking forward to my senior year running track at my Louisiana high school. I thought I had a chance to do well, and I was thrilled when I came in first place at a regional competition.
As I started training for the state competition, which was two weeks after that, my legs felt very weak. On the day of the race, I realized I couldn’t feel my feet. Still, I ran three miles in 17 minutes and 45 seconds. It was a blistering pace, but I had been running more than a minute faster than that all season.
A few days later, just before Thanksgiving, I started to feel very sick. My face drooped, and doctors diagnosed me with Bell’s Palsy, a neurological condition. But I just kept getting worse. The day after Thanksgiving, I couldn’t get out of bed. My parents rushed me to Children’s Hospital New Orleans. I spent the next eight days on a ventilator as my respiratory system shut down.