She was withering away before their eyes.
They watched her slog through marathon workouts every weekday morning at the Green Hills YMCA, her emaciated body leaning on the rails of the Stairmaster.
“That girl was there,” Frank Grant told his wife one Sunday afternoon, confirming the couple’s suspicion that she was working out multiple times a day. They didn’t know her name, but she was young enough to be their daughter.
Other gym-goers at the YMCA also were watching her decline and wondering what to do. Was she really anorexic? Was it some other medical condition? They contemplated the potential awkwardness of making a wrong assumption, the rudeness of violating someone’s privacy and the danger of doing nothing.
Then nine of the concerned gym goes decided to stage an intervention. They tried talking at first.
“I know we don’t know each other,” Louise Grant said, introducing herself to Lax. “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 gave a politely defensive response, saying she was OK and had received counseling. But the unspoken message was clear.
“It was sort of, ‘You need to leave me alone,’ ” Louise Grant said.
Then they contacted her parents through social media and shared that the group of 9 was planning to meet their daughter in person with the intention of getting her to the hospital.
They met in the parking lot early in the morning before the gym opened and waited for her to arrive. Lax resisted at first, but agreed to go with them.
If they had waited any longer, Lauryn Lax would have died.
When they got to the emergency room, however, doctors almost didn’t keep her there, and Lax was ready to go home and get back to her old ways:
“Very eerily, everything looked OK on paper,” Lax said. “My little angels were just so adamant. They knew that I was not well and really fought to keep me there.” The morning she was supposed to check out, however, she started experiencing chest pains. The disorder had weakened her heart. Doctors thought they might have to implant a pacemaker. Anorexia nervosa had weakened Lax to the point that her heart was struggling to beat.
Now after receiving treatment, she calls them her angels. Today Lax is healthy and is scheduled to graduate in May after completing her clinical requirements to be an occupational therapist. She hopes to find employment helping people with eating disorders. She’s planning a party with her angels.