This past week, as many college students do, I've gotten sick. It's not bad or anything; I'm a little nauseated, my head feels stuffy and my throat is a bit scratchy. I know most of the time when I get sick it'll last for a week at most, and then I'll be good as new again. Sure, I miss a couple swim practices or a day of school to sleep and let my body recover and reset, but my immune system and I are pretty good buds. However, every time I start to get sick now, I always worry I'm going to essentially become incapacitated for another five months like I did my sophomore year of high school.

The second semester of my sophomore year had started and I'm doing pretty alright. I'm thriving surviving in my first AP and college-level classes, and we just finished Christmas training on the swim team. I'm really starting to feel like I'm back in shape, and I'm excited to see how I do at the end of season meets this year. All of a sudden one day during practice I started feeling sick to my stomach. I got out of the pool and left early because it was probably just some stomach bug going around school I'd caught, and I'd be good as new the next day. Sadly, I was wrong.

We ended up meeting with a GI specialist, who was convinced it was just a virus running its course and I'd be feeling better any day. The days turned into weeks, and I wasn't really getting any sicker but I also wasn't improving at all. I was just sick, tired, and wanted to feel well enough to get in the pool again. I had put in so much work to have a great end to my season, and instead, I was watching it all waste away in front of me as I spent every moment I could curled up in the fetal position on my couch.

More testing got done, which led to more people still not knowing what the heck was wrong with me. It was an endless loop of frustration, doctors' appointments, and pills. It felt like so many different pills and "alternative treatments" that were supposed to help with issues in your GI tract. None of it was working. Eventually, my mom took me to an acupuncturist because frankly she didn't know what else to do, and it's not like that could make the situation any worse, right?

When we met with her I honestly didn't know what to expect, but that meeting potentially changed the rest of my life. This acupuncturist was the first person who suggested chronic appendicitis as a possibility, and honestly, my mom had a few doubts about it, but as more tests came back saying I was healthy, she started to reach out and eventually found a surgeon who agreed to do an appendectomy while I was undergoing another procedure.

The difference from when before I went under to after I woke up from surgery was like night and day. When I woke up, I was hungry for the first time in five months, and I almost cried because I was so glad it was finally over. I still had to heal, and then spent all of my junior year trying to get back to the level of swimmer I was before, and while I know I lost a lot of training, being sick for so long and making it through that taught me I can do just about anything, admittedly with one organ less now.