Always a reason to smile

Have you ever known someone with really bad luck? Someone who can never catch a break or always get hurt? I have, her name is Camille Drain. She is a 14 year old girl from Crystal Lake, Illinois, who was born with a birth defect, legally drowned, and choked on her tongue. Camille was born with what is known as an imperforated anus along with a blockage in her intestine. An imperforated anus means that the opening to the anus is missing. As soon as she was born she was sent into emergency surgery to correct the blockage and was given an opening in her stomach to secrete waste. A few months later she was brought back to the hospital to have her anus built. Once the doctors could see that her body was working properly with the new anus she had to undergo yet another surgery. This third surgery was used to close the opening in her stomach that was originally created to rid of her waste. Camille lived in the hospital her first year of life but was able to live a somewhat normal life afterwards. When she hit the age of four she had complications that sent her back to the hospital and forced her into one more surgery for corrections. This final surgery made her life incredibly difficult. She had over 20 stitches that prevented her from going to the bathroom on her own. She had to have someone sit with her and rinse the stitches after every time she used the bathroom. Most of the time it was a family member, but at school it was usually one of the nurses. An inflatable donut became her best friend when it was time to sit down but her worst enemy because it never failed to spark questions from her peers. Not being able to have privacy in the bathroom or even be able to sit down for too long and then struggle to stand up was embarrassing to Camille. The feeling of helplessness overtook her and ate away at her confidence. To this day, Camille does not have the normal amount of control over her urinary system. She is unable to hold in her pee and suffers from frequent constipation that has given her multiple trips to the ER. This experience gave her a fear of doctors, she always expected to get poked or prodded while in their office.

Although she was put through multiple surgeries, Camille was still able to go to things like her brothers baseball games. She was kept in a stroller but was still somewhere other than a hospital. One day at the field her brother had a tournament so it was a long day. Camille was in her stroller being pushed by her mom when a foul ball shot over one of the fences and hit Camille in the head. The impact caused her head to get knocked back and her tongue went backwards down her throat, she had swallowed her tongue and started choking on it. The ambulance rushed her into the concession stand building and began to try and release her tongue from her throat. They were successful in opening her airway and she was able to breathe. As a precautionary measure she was taken to the hospital but released later that night.

After her final surgery when she was four, she was able to start living a normal life again. Her stitches healed and she was able to gain the privacy most people take advantage of. The trips to doctor offices became less frequent and she was able to start going on playdates and enjoy her childhood. Less than a year after the final surgery, Camille went to the beach with her sister and close family friends. It was a beautiful day and she loved to swim even though she was still learning. Floaties were forced on her arms and her bathing suit had a built in air pack that helped keep her head above the water while still inexperienced. Around noon, everyone she was with got called out of the water for a lunch break. She was freed from her floaties. When Camille finished eating she was ready to jump back in the water. She saw some older girls playing a game called “Dead Man Float”, this is where you lay on your stomach and float in the water until you need to come up for air. The goal is to see who can float the longest without coming up. Fun loving little Camille wanted to play, so she sat off to the side and started to float on her stomach. Without her floaties she struggled to sit back up and only pushed herself deeper into an area where she could not touch the ground. Her lungs filled with water and she had to be pulled out by the lifeguard. There was no beat coming from her heart and her face was blue, she was legally dead. The lifeguard gave her CPR followed by mouth to mouth resuscitation. Three minutes of this repeated action gave Camille the strength to spit out the water and breathe in air. She was then immediately rushed to a hospital and was kept overnight.

At the age of five this little girl had already been through so much. She had spent so much of her life in hospitals bouncing from doctor to doctor for various procedures and check ups. Her history made her scared. She had security issues with people she was not familiar with and although she was young she remembers the different kind of pain she suffered from. Whenever she heard a siren she would get scared that “they were coming to get [her]”. Her history created a certain amount of pain and fear, but it never stopped her from overcoming them. Camille never wants to leave the pool during the summer, she loves going to baseball games, and is able to see an ambulance without crying. While talking to Camille about her experiences she seemed to focus more on the good of what happened to her. She explained that all the doctor visits gave her time to bond with her aunt and mom who would always go with. While she was in the hospital recovering from the drowning, she went to the gift shop to find a present for her sister just because she wanted to make her smile. After her surgeries her siblings would get to stay home from school to play games with her and keep her company. Camille still has confidence issues due to her birth defect and the side effects she suffers from, but she doesn’t let it weaken her. She transformed from a strong little girl to a powerful young lady. With all that has happened to her she still finds reasons to smile. Not once has Camille looked back and asked why, she has taken her experiences and used them to shape herself for the better. Camille Drain is a role model and an inspiration to the people of her hometown.

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