The year is 2009, as an active young girl that loved volleyball, softball, flag football, and anything in between, Angel started feeling inexplicable sharp pains in her muscles, mostly concentrated in her legs and back. It got to an unbearable point, and she had to be rushed to the emergency room.
Many tests later, it was found that her CK (creating kinase) levels were off the charts. I'm not a doctor (and even the doctors aren't able to explain this very well), but basically CK is one of the enzymes in everyone's body that breaks down the muscles, usually after a strenuous workout. An average person's CK levels generally fall well below 100, and they will usually be hospitalized when their levels escalate to 200-300.
Angel's CK levels have skyrocketed to over 40,000 in the past. By the time she is admitted to the hospital, her levels usually range anywhere from 15,000-35,000. The damage this disorder does to her body is more than just excruciating physical pain, it also causes stress on her vital organs such as her kidneys and heart. It has even caused her seizures. Her normal, everyday levels are anything under 1,000, which is still significantly higher than the point in which normal people would be hospitalized.
Fast forward to 2017, Angel has been admitted to the hospital 19 times throughout high school and college, and her stays are usually 5-9 days apiece, becoming more and more frequent. She is now admitted to the hospital about once every 2-3 months. Hospital sleepovers and holiday parties with nurses have become regular occurrences for our group of friends.
Angel is, without a doubt, the strongest human being I have ever met. She is able to kindly explain her confusing disorder and answer the same questions over and over 1000 times a day to intrigued medical staff and visitors, while she is in unbelievable pain. Most people, if placed in her position, would be depressed, addicted to pain meds, and broken. Instead, this beautiful Angel decided to kick ass and become a nurse so that she can be the light in the world and help people that are stuck in similar situations. She has remained persistent, patient, and strong, and I have no clue how she does it.
No one knows what causes these episodes, how to prevent it, or how to cure it. She remains undiagnosed. All the nurses and doctors have been able to do up until this point has been to treat her with IV fluids and pain medication until her levels naturally drop to her normal. The only slightly preventative measures that can be taken are for Angel to not participate in any form of physical activity(including hiking, sports, or even remaining on her feet for extended periods of time), which is absolutely heartbreaking for a young woman that loves being active. If you were to look at Angel, you would have no idea that she is sick. She never lets onto the fact that she is in a constant state of pain, until she is to the point in which she cannot move and needs to be taken to the Emergency Room.
FINALLY, after years and years without ANY answers whatsoever, Angel has been granted the opportunity to be studied by the competent doctors at UCLA. This is the opportunity her friends and family have been praying for. This is her step in the right direction. One short office meeting with a doctor from UCLA this week has already told her more about her disorder than the Las Vegas doctors and specialists have been able to in the past eight years.
Insurance covers some things, but by no means will it cover the weeks of work Angel and her wonderful boyfriend Mac will have to miss in order to stay near UCLA. It will not cover day-to-day expenses, copays for the many doctors she will need to meet with, her usual bills, flights to get down there, or many other things. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and she needs your help to make it happen. Thank you so much in advance, from the bottom of my heart.