Learn from Little Rachel

Little Rachel is only sixteen years old and skinnier than a twig.
She plays all sorts of sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer and even has time for a little hockey (her dad used to play and she always looks forward to the drives home after the game, because it’s the only time they ever get a chance to talk).
Two older sisters, who are stud athletes, occupy the house along with her mom, who is tall, but skinny, like her, and Little Rachel (she’s been called that since she was a kid) tries hard, but she isn’t the one on the team that scores the baskets or the one that tallies the goals.
Yeah, she’s a little awkward and a little goofy-footed, and sure, she often gets razzed by her teammates and especially her sisters, but she’s content on being part of the team (though deep down she wishes she was the one that was scoring the baskets and tallying the goals).
One day Little Rachel was in the locker room getting ready for her basketball game when she noticed her teammate, Jen, taking a few pills at her stall and downing it with some purple Gatorade.
“What are those?” curious Little Rachel asked.
“These are what help me score 30 points a game,” Jen answered with a grin that would’ve made the Grinch cringe.
You see, Jen is the star player on the team. Other girls follow Jen. Jen is popular. She’s pretty. Not really smart, but that’s okay because she’s got “those fab-abs” the boys really like.
Intrigued, Little Rachel starts asking some questions—Jen offers her teammate a few pills.
“I can’t feel anything,” Little Rachel says, who cringes from the after taste (she’s never liked taking pills; but she’s never liked sitting on the bench either).
“It’ll take some time, but if you take them every day then you’ll start seeing results in a few weeks,” Jen says.
“What kind of results?” Little Rachel asks.
“You’ll grow. Get stronger. Run faster. Jump higher,” Jen says.
“Isn’t that the motto for the Olympics?” questions Little Rachel.
“Yeah, but this will get you to that level,” Jen responds.
Jen gives Little Rachel a weeks worth of pills and tells her how to take them, and says that if she wants more she will need to ante up—“About $100 a month, if you want the good stuff”.
“I’m not the star just because of my shoes, if you know what I mean?” winks Jen.
Little Rachel winks back.
But there’s a problem—Little Rachel doesn’t have that kind of money. She works at the local ice cream parlour, but only a few hours a week, because of the time spent on sports and homework (Little Rachel is an honours student and plans to become an architect).
The week goes by and Little Rachel’s “supply” is out. She needs money. She wants to get big. She’s convinced that she needs to get big. So one day when she is by herself at home, she goes to her parents room and takes a few bills from her mother’s purse. She feels bad, but her mom and dad won’t mind—“My dad always said he wanted to hear my name called for the starting lineup”—and this will help her get that for him, and plus, they have lots of money (both parents work two jobs).
Weeks go by, then months and Little Rachel is spending more time in the weight room and gym than in the library reading about math and biology. Her marks are suffering, but her biceps are getting bigger.
Her parents don’t seem to mind. Little Rachel’s dad is starting to spend more time with her since she’s started to get more minutes, but her mom isn’t spending as much time with her as before.
And before you know it, Little Rachel isn’t so little any more.
But the Little Rachel that was the nicest girl you could ever meet isn’t so nice anymore. She now gets angry at the littlest things.
There was one time when she was waiting in line at the school’s cafeteria when someone budded ahead of her and instead of just letting it go (like Little Rachel would’ve done) this version of Rachel went up to the boy and punched him in the face.
She gets suspended, but her dad is proud of her because he taught her she should “never take that kind of crap”, and Rachel can tell her mom is saddened by her actions, but doesn’t say anything.
But that’s okay, because a week later Rachel gets named to the starting lineup (you see, she started taking something more to help her grow, but it wasn’t from a pill—she started taking injections every week along with Jen and a whole bunch of other girls every Friday) and when her name is announced over the P.A. system for the starting lineup she can see her dad crying in the stands. Her mom, though, isn’t smiling—Why? Because she isn’t there.
That hurts Rachel, but it doesn’t compare to the hurt she laid on the opposition. You see, Rachel has always been tall (she’s 5’9”) and now with her extra size she has become a force in the paint for the team, and is starting to get really popular.
She and Jen and the other girls always hang out and everyone wants to be like them. Rachel is now popular. She’s the one that scores the points. She’s the one the boys chase. She’s barely passing her classes, but it doesn’t matter, because “I’m going pro and don’t need an education.”
But her stomach starts hurting, so Rachel goes for a doctor’s appointment.
“Rachel, is that you?!” Dr. Mario Millan asks.
“Sure it is doc. You say that has if you’re looking at a different person,” Rachel laughs.
“Maybe because I am looking at a different person,” he says, “what seems to be the problem?”
“My stomach is killing me,” Rachel says grasping her stomach.
“Well, we’ll do some tests and see what turns out,” Dr. Millan says. “Now I’m going to have to do some blood work, and I’m sorry for that…”
“Oh, I’m not scared of needles anymore doc,” Rachel says.
Dr. Millan is starting to understand what’s wrong with Rachel.
The results come back and Dr. Millan asks Rachel’s mom and dad to come into his office.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but Rachel’s blood work came back and it’s not good,” Dr. Millan says (who ordered more than just a regular workup).
“Rachel, I’m sorry, but you have HIV.”
Silence.
“But I’m still a virgin,” a shocked Rachel said.
“I’m sure that’s true, but the needles you have been using were not sterile and …”
“What needles?” Rachel’s dad interrupts.
“Dad, I’m sorry, but I’ve been using steroids to get big. I thought you would understand. I did it for you,” Rachel says choking back tears.
Rachel’s mom is no longer silent—you can hear her crying from the corner of the room.
Last week, a shocking survey revealed there are girls as young as nine years old using bodybuilding steroids with up to about five percent of high schools and seven percent of middle school girls admitting they have tried anabolic steroids at least once.
When’s the last time you talked to your kid?
emoutsatsos@fortfrances.com

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