[Embarrassed]. Oh, right. Was there anything else that happened in the hospital?
Yeah, actually. It was my birthday.
Right after the operation?
Yeah. It wasn’t all bad, though: the nurses sang me “Happy Birthday” and— this was one of the best things that happened to me— there was a little four-year-old girl a room down from me, her name was Aimee and she had infected burns over about two thirds of her body. Apparently she’d heard the nurses singing “Happy Birthday” to me.
She asked one of the nurses to get her into her wheelchair. She made me a birthday card and asked to be wheeled down to my room so she could say happy birthday.
It’s nice that you’ve got some good memories, mixed in with the difficult ones.
So what happened when you went home?
I stayed at my mum’s house for a week, because she’s a nurse and she knew how to look after me properly. The first week was the week of a drama class performance, which was amazing and horrible at the same time. I remember forcing my mum to take me to school that morning so that I could do a rehearsal which I immediately regretted because I threw up, right before my scene.
[Grimacing sympathetically]. Yeah, I was there.
Yeah, well, I went back on stage and rehearsed and everything.
This girl is daring almost to the point of idiocy.
And then when I got home, Mum made me lie down. I couldn’t eat normally—I was supposed to be eating normally but I just couldn’t—I never felt hungry. When I was in hospital, I couldn’t eat because I threw up every time I ate. That was the result of the same medication that affected my memory which, as it turned out, I was having all the negative side effects of: blurred vision, double vision, headaches. One of the side effects is seizures, and is it just me or is it a little strange to put someone with a history of seizures on a medication that might cause seizures?
Yeah, it is. So, you have a history of seizures?
Yeah. Last year I had three seizures. The first one was in my Granny’s house. I was downstairs playing Scrabble with my little sister and the next thing I knew I was in an ambulance. They told me I’d had a seizure, and I was confused, and everything hurt, and I didn’t feel like I could move, and I was talking to one of the paramedics about Mean Girls and The Big Bang Theory and Harry Potter.
And then you had two more?
Yeah, I remember one incident where it was the same paramedic that got me after my first seizure and I desperately wanted to say, “We really need to stop meeting like this,” but I couldn’t because, well, my brain wasn’t working properly.
Did I mention she’s a bit eccentric?
Is there anything else that’s happened in your life?
[Raises an eyebrow]. A lot of things have happened in my life, Steph.
[Laughs, cheeks flushing]. Yes, um, any other major things? Before the seizures and the back operation, when you were in primary school, you had glandular fever, right?
Yeah, that wasn’t very nice at all. I started getting really bad headaches and I was tired all the time and sick a lot. And I missed out on an excursion to the Titanic exhibition—I’m hoping that comes back to Melbourne some time so that I can go. So anyway, Mum took me to her work, which at the time was at a doctor’s office, and she got the doctor to check up on me and give me a blood test, which I absolutely hate. And then Mum made them put it up to “urgent” level so I could get the results as soon as possible.
Your mum sounds like a very protective woman. Do you think maybe you got a bit of her personality?
Yeah. I’m pretty protective of the people I care about. Anyway, we got the results of the blood tests back a couple of days later. She called me, because at the time my parents had just divorced, so that was a pretty bad experience, as well, actually.
It always is.
So she called me up, told me what it was, and I was like, “Am I gonna die?” She just said, “No, you’re not going to die, it’s just something really awful.” So after that, I couldn’t get through a full week of school without having to go home. I was just tired all the time and it was horrible.
Wow. Sounds like you’ve had some challenges in your life.
No, I wouldn’t say so. People have had it worse than me. There are some people who don’t have anything to eat.
Dauntless, eccentric, brave and food-crazy. There’s Lauryn in four words.