Ella lay still as the hard plastic held her mouth open and the thick hose was inserted. Her throat was numbing, a sickening paralysis that made her helpless to the procedure. A pressure pushed in her throat, a mechanical fumbling with the mouthpiece, murmurs from the man in the white coat, the nurse in her jarringly bright scrub smock, and her mother's persistent tone that was edged with fear.

"...usually don't see it in girls this young," a male voice said. "It's generally misdiagnosed, and isn't even recognized in some medical communities..."

The tube moved in her throat, her vision unfocused on the sterile hospital room lights and bland beige walls. A hand pushed her hair from her forehead, the smell of antiseptic strong. Nurse fingers. Where was her mother?

"... for the anemia. I'll write you a prescription..."

The tube in her throat moved as something was guided down it. Her eyes closed.

"... you feeling, honey?" Nurse speak.

Ella couldn't have responded if she wanted to.

"... doing fine. Just a little longer. We'll start in a minute here."

They hadn't even started yet? Ella made a muffled sound, wished her eyes would close in sleep. The nurse said something about blood pressure, and then she woke up slowly, unsure how much time had passed.

She opened her eyes and immediately closed them again. Her mother was speaking lowly with the doctor.

Never, Ella thought as her brain started to work at half speed. Never again.