Stars Worth Searching For

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Chapter Seventeen

My alarm blares and I turn it off, actually excited to go to school.

It’ll be fun to take the tri rail again, and even though these classes are gonna be hard, I can’t wait to be a medical researcher.

I grab a white ruffle top, and jeans, and hop into the shower.

“Hey!” Hannah calls, as I’m finishing up.

“I made you some breakfast.”

I can always count on Hannah to cook. She’s always making something,“Thanks!” I head downstairs and take some french toast, and bacon.

“What class do you have today?” Hannah pours me some chocolate milk.

“Medical Terminology.”

“Yikes. So do you have one test today, or two?”

“I know, right?” I laugh. “I work today too.”

“How do you do it all?” She asks.

“I’m not sure, just hope I’m not in over my head,” I put my plate in the dishwasher.

“Can I take a picture of you, before you go?” Mom asks.

“Mom, why?” I groan.

Hannah laughs.

“Because it’s your first day of school with a different major!”

“Fine.” I fix my hair and strike a pose in the grass, with my hand on my hip.

“Thank you.” Mom smiles.

“Alright, I have to get going.” I pick my textbook up, and hoist my Jansport backpack onto my back.

“Does it feel weird wearing a backpack again?” Hannah asks, starting her car. She’s a sophomore at the local community college.

“Yeah, but it’s a good kind of weird. Like an excited weird.” I toss my backpack in the back.

………………………………………………………………………………………

I hop off the tram at school and head over to Starbucks, grabbing an iced chai tea before heading to class. I hope this isn;t a bad impression.

I grab a seat at the front table, and grab a syllabus.

“Hi.” A girl about eighteen smiles. “Is this seat taken?” She gestures to the chair next to me.

“No, go ahead.”

“Thanks.” She smiles. “I’m Samantha, but you can call me Sam.”

“I’m Alexandria, but you can call me Akex.”

“Nice to meet you.” She smiles.

“You too.”

The professor goes over class introductions, and the syllabus, and we get out twenty minutes early.

“How old are you?” Sam asks me, after hearing my introduction.

“I’m twenty-two. Kind of a late bloomer.”

“That’s inspiring. We should study sometime.”

Sam writes her number down on a piece of paper, and hands it to me.

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen.”

“Wow.”

“Yeah.” She laughs. “I’m kind of an overachiever.”

“Do you want to be a doctor?”

“Close.” She smiles. “I want to be an Oncologist. My mom’s a Cancer survivor.”

“Wow, that’s inspiring.”

“Yeah, I feel like it’s my way of giving back. Maybe one day I’ll find a cure for Cancer.”

“That’s amazing.”

“Thanks. What are you planning to do after school?”

“I want to be a medical researcher. I have Retinopathy of Prematurity, so I wanted to research that along with other diseases that cause childhood blindness.”

“Wow, I’m glad you’re researching that, cause I have never heard of it.” She looks a little embarrassed. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s cool.” I hoist my backpack onto my shoulders.

“I was gonna go to the library, before lunch. Do you wanna come?”

“Sure.”

Sam and I head to the library and study the first chapter, and work on the first assignment

……………………………………………………………………………………………

“So, how was school today?” Mom finishes setting the table.

I scoop some fried rice, and honey chicken on my plate.

“It was good, but I can tell it’s gonna be a lot of studying.”

“And a lot of money,” Dad interjects.

“I got the scholarship I wanted.”

“That’s good.” Dad smiles. “I’m rooting for you.”

“Thanks.” I take a sip of milk.

This is gonna be a lot of work, but I know it’s gonna be worth it.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Two weeks later, I’m at an appointment with Dr. Calloway, when he brings someone new into the room.

“Do you still want to be a medical researcher?” He asks.

“Yeah, I’m getting ready for my first exam in Anatomy.”

“Well I’d like to introduce you to Anastassia, she does a lot of research for me.”

“Hi, you can call me Ana.” She smiles, and extends her hand.

“Do you have some spare time? Do you want to meet for coffee after your appointment?”

“Yeah, that sounds great.”

“Okay. I’ll be in the Starbucks downstairs waiting for you. Is that ok?”

“Yeah.” She seems really nice

“Okay, good.”

Dr. Calloway tells me about the prognosis of my appointment, and I check out, making another appointment.

“Have a good day.” Dr. Calloway smiles.

“You too, thank you.”

I take the elevator to the first floor, and meet Ana in front of the Starbucks.

“You want something to drink? It’s on me.”

“I’ll take a Grande Iced Chai Tea Latte, thank you.”

“No problem.” Ana gets the drinks, and I grab us a table.

“So what made you want to become a medical researcher?” She asks, taking a sip of her coffee.

“I want to research causes of childhood blindness, such as ROP, so I can help people, before they’re in the situation I’m in.”

I clear my throat to keep from crying.

“Can I ask you to elaborate on that?” She asks.

“I mean basically I wasn’t diagnosed with ROP until I was already an adult.”

She raises her eyebrows. “Really?”

“Yeah. I was with a different doctor, and I don’t know if he knew all that he was doing, when he was caring for me as a patient.”

She puts her hand on my forearm. “What do you mean?”

“We;; basically before I started going to Dr. Calloway, the retina in my left eye detached three times.”

“Wow.” She exhales. “In what time span?

“In about the span of a year.”

“Really? Yeah that can happen with ROP.”

“Yeah. I think the second surgery was the one that really did me in. And I waited too long to go to Dr. Calloway. It was already damaged beyond repair.”

“Did something go wrong during the surgery?” She asks.

I blink back tears. “I don’t think so. I woke up from the second surgery with an excruciating headache, and it lasted for over a month. Nothing would make it go away.”

“Was it the pressure?” She asks.

“Yeah, it was at about sixty. My doctor gave me drops, and it went down for a while, but about three months after the surgery, we were looking for a different doctor.”

“Wow.” She stirs the ice in her coffee with a straw. “I can see why you want to be a medical researcher now.”

“Yeah. I don’t want anything like this happening to anyone else. So I want to be a part of researching new methods in surgery, or non invasive procedures. I can’t see well enough to become a surgeon, so this is the best I can do.”

“That’s a really great way to look at things.”

“Thanks. I figure it’s better than being bitter and angry, like I used to be. That didn’t solve anything.”

I change the subject, before I start crying. “So, what did you have to do to become a medical researcher?”

“I had to get licensed as a doctor, even if I’m a medical researcher, I still conduct clinical trials, and am in contact with patients.”

“How long did that take?”

“Twelve years,”

“What?” I almost spit out my drink. She can’t be any older than thirty.

She laughs. “It’s the genetics. I’m forty-five. Started college at eighteen, finished at thirty.”

“Have you been working for Dr. Calloway this whole time?”

“No, after I had my children I started working for him, because of the benefits.”

“Did you always want to research the field of Ophthalmology?”

“Yeah. The eye is so interesting to me. Especially when it’s complicated.”

“It was nice meeting you, and thank you for talking to me.”

“No problem.” She throws her cup away. “And good luck.”

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