Lauryn Lax was on the brink of death when a group of nine strangers at her gym staged an intervention for the 23-year-old anorexic graduate student three years ago.
Five-foot-four Lax weighed just 79 pounds the morning the group stopped her in the parking lot of the Green Hills YMCA In Nashville and took her to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for help.
In a phone interview with MailOnline, Lax confessed that she struggled with the eating disorder for more than a decade, and had been hospitalized a dozen or more times.
But it was that much needed ‘wake-up call’ by the group of mere acquaintances that led her to finally get healthy.
Frank Grant and his wife Louise were two of the YMCA members involved in the intervention, and had noticed the girl working out religiously – sometimes multiple times a day – at the gym for quite sometime.
Before they learned her name, they called her ‘that girl’ in conversations until they finally got the courage to say something.
Mrs Grant was the first to make the move. On a Monday morning, she approached Lax as she was walking from the upstairs workout area to a downstairs weight machine.
‘I know we don’t know each other,’ Mrs Grant recalled to the Tennessean. ‘I have to tell you that I would like to get you some help. I believe that you have an eating disorder, and I really want to do something to help you.’
Lax rebuffed Mrs Grant’s concerns, saying she was OK and had received counseling.
Little did she know that Lax had with Anorexia nervosa since elementary school when a popular girl asked her how much she weighed at the age of 10.
By the time Lax was in the seventh-grade she had to be admitted to a inpatient program, and had to seek treatment again when she was a freshman at the University of Texas.
She hit her rock bottom weight in August 2011 after moving to Tennessee to attend graduate school at Belmont University and the members at her gym decided to voice their concerns.
‘It was just a struggle to even work out 30 minutes less or to make myself eat a teaspoon of almond butter more,’ Lax said.
The day after Mrs Grant’s initial conversation with Lax, the members started getting more serious about their intervention.
They found out Lax’s first name from someone at the front desk, and another member was already a friend of Lax’s on Facebook.
From there they were able to track down Lax’s father on the social networking site, and the very next day Mrs Grant and gym-member Susie Bateman called up Mike Lax to voice their concerns.
On Wednesday morning, the Grants and Bateman banded together with L’Taya Bell, Judith Hill, Andy Clough, Bob Johnson, Fields Stringfellow and Johnny Phipps to arrive at the gym early before Lax started her workout.
The group persuaded Lax to go with them to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and she nearly talked her way out of being admitted. However, her Dad called ahead warning the hospital staff that his daughter would not cooperate.
‘We couldn’t help her,’ said Mike Lax said. ‘We were so close to it for so long. We had just been to Nashville three weeks before the intervention. We came to Nashville the last week of July and really got in the car and cried on the way home. We didn’t know if she was going to make it.’
Had the strangers decided to not say anything to Lax, she probably wouldn’t be alive today.
Lax spent three days in intensive care and three and a half weeks in a cardiac unit because her heart beat had slowed down to such dangerous levels doctors were considering surgery to install a pacemaker.
But Lax recovered, though she spent nearly a year in treatment working towards a healthy weight.
She spent most of the 11 months at a treatment center in Miami, aided by the long-distance support of her cheerleaders back at the YMCA. Lax says she received constant letters, emails and Facebook messages from the group which really helped her stick with treatment.
Three years later, Lax says she no longer pays attention to her weight and doesn’t count calories. And though she no longer lives in Nashville, she remains close to the nine ‘angels’ who stepped up to save her life.. The group reunited nearly every time she is in town, and they are planning a party to celebrate Lax’s graduation from Belmont in May.
‘I consider them some of my greatest friends in Nashville… I think our hearts kind of bonded through that experience,’ Lax told MailOnline.
After graduation in May, Lax hopes to find work helping other people struggling with eating disorders.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
313975 316 38
her path of destiny = 38 = Feeding. Taking meals. Body care. Taking care of herself.
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