My nose, my chin, my ears, my cheeks—all pale purple. I panicked. My whole body shook, I broke into a cold sweat, and my heart began beating out of my chest. I felt sicker than I've ever felt. A second later, I heard footsteps. Michelle rounded the corner into my parents' room. "It's me," she said—and then she saw me. "Oh my God, Amy, you look dead!" she said. She dropped her purse and ran to me.

At the time, Michelle was only sixteen—so you can imagine how overwhelmed she felt. "We've gotta get you to the hospital!" she yelled. As I stumbled down the hall, I couldn't feel my feet—so my flip-flops flew in every direction. On my way out, I grabbed a jug of water. I had never been so thirsty. "We need to get out of here right now," I slurred. "Get your car." Clearly, I was in no state to drive—so thank goodness Michelle had recently gotten her license. But just as we'd made it out the front door, she said, "Oh my God, Amy—I don't think I have enough gas!" I could barely even hold my head up.

"Then let's take my truck!" I told her.

"But I don't know how to drive a stick!"

"Well I'll teach you how to drive a stick right now!" I said in desperation.

We took Michelle's car. I figured that if she ran out of gas, we could call 911, which is what we should've done before we even left my house, but panic can make you forget everything you know. "Let's just go," I ordered. So she floored it through the desert while I curled my body up in a ball in the passenger seat. I had to stay alert enough to direct Michelle—we had a new hospital, and she didn't know where it was. The whole way there, I gasped for air. Amy, just breathe, I kept repeating in my head—but I couldn't seem to catch my breath. "Turn ... gasp ... right .... gasp ... here," I managed to say. She did—and her gas tank indicator inched closer to empty.

Fifteen minutes later, Michelle sped through the hospital parking lot and screeched right up to the sliding doors of the emergency room. She helped me out of the car and I fell to the ground. A passerby who'd spotted us getting out of the car rushed a wheelchair over to me. "Here you go, Miss, use this," he said. I was so frail that he had to lift me into the seat.

The ER was packed that evening. A long line stretched up to the front window. We checked in, and forty-five minutes later, a nurse finally wheeled me into the back, and then hoisted me up onto the table. All I wanted to do was lie down—and I tried to. "I'm gonna need you to sit up," she ordered. She then Velcro'd a cuff around my left arm and took my blood pressure. She sat still for a few seconds and listened through the stethoscope. Then suddenly, she bolted from the room. "I need a doctor!" she screamed as she sprinted down the hall. Seconds later, a doctor and nurse rushed in and wheeled me away on a gurney.