So, you were with a school group in Europe and ended up needing an appendectomy—what were the top three indications?
1. I was constantly dehydrated.
2. I threw up anytime I tried to eat for two days.
3. I was constantly tired, able to sleep on a bus full of constantly talking/screaming/gossiping teenagers, something I could never do before.
What six things made the biggest impression on you during your ordeal in Switzerland?
1. Our teacher/chaperone, Maribeth Brooks. She took me to the doctor’s office, and stuck with me at the hospital until my mother arrived, a full two days, including the day I got the surgery. She is a saint, and should be treated as such.
2. My angelic mother, who flew over and stayed with me. She is quite a woman, and was key in my psychological recovery.
3. The hospital was located in the Alps. Seeing them from the balcony lifted me up during my recovery, helped me feel blessed to be where I was.
4. Swiss German—German words spoken in an Italian accent with French guttural sounds.
5. I stayed on a ward—no fewer than four patients in the room at a time.
6. My state became a subject of conversation. I didn’t know what they were saying until one of them exclaimed “Martin Luther King!” I told my mother about this unfortunate association; we then introduced Elvis’s name and sang part of “Hound Dog,” which jogged their memory.
Back in Knoxville, what five things were you happiest to see again?
1. My family. It was great to know I had people who would love me no matter what, and knew my language.
2. All the signs in my native language.
3. People speaking in American Southern accents.
4. The warmer temperatures. I have never been so glad to be sweating in my entire short life.
5. I loved seeing my church friends again. They had been so concerned about me, and had a surprising amount of sick in Europe/appendectomy stories—though never both at once—so I fit right in.