WALKER, Mich. (WOOD) — Kelly Walski is looking forward to her senior year at Kenowa Hills High School in the fall.

With supportive family, friends and a boyfriend by her side, she knows she’ll be able to handle whatever the year throws at her because her limit has already been tested.

“It was awful. I was just bent over in pain, throwing up, headaches, body aches. It was awful. The only thing that would help me is laying straight down in my bed,” she recalled.

A couple of years ago, while the world slowed during the pandemic, her world was closing down.

“I would be at my volleyball games or volleyball practice or just out with my friends and I would have to leave. I was bent over in pain or in the bathroom throwing up, it was awful,” she said.

A formerly active and healthy girl, she was frequently falling violently ill and no one knew why.

“At a volleyball game, the pain got so bad that we ended up at the ER at 9 p.m. that night. I remember they told us she had kidney stones even though they couldn’t find one on the ultrasound and that set off a year of appointments,” Kelly Walski’s mother Krista Walski recalled.

A whole year of X-rays, EEGs, CAT scans and ultrasounds. At one point, Kelly Walski was on four different medications for IBS.

“He (the doctor) said the only test left to do, if it came back positive, you would have already been dead by now. That was the last test possible to prove that something was physically, internally wrong with her,” said Krista Walski.

Kelly Walski’s body was fine. Doctors had tried everything. So why the debilitating pain?

The answer came in a last-ditch appointment at a Palliative Care and Pain Management clinic at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. A team of professionals including a neurologist, social worker and psychiatrist met with Kelly Walski for two hours.

“At the end, Dr. Barber Garcia came on the screen, and she said, “Kelly, I know what’s wrong with you and I can fix you.” And that was the moment we both just started crying,” Krista Walski said.

“Somatic symptom disorders are actually pretty common. We see these occur in kids and adolescents and all the way up through adults,” said Dr. Brittany Barber Garcia, chief of pediatric psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

The mystery now had a name: Somatic Symptom Disorder. Barber Garcia says doctors are seeing a lot of kids and teenagers with anxiety right now — numbers that have risen in the past few years.

“We know there is strong mind-body connection and so when we are experiencing stress or anxiety in our everyday lives, sure we might experience that in our emotions, but we can also experience that through symptoms in our body,” Barber Garcia said.

There was more good news for Kelly Walski — her condition is treatable. Therapy, medication and even breathing exercises have improved her quality of life.

“I promised her at the start that I would not give up until we figured this out,” Krista Walski said.

The future is bright after a painful journey. It’s not something Kelly Walski is hiding from anyone.

“Now I’m proud of it. I wouldn’t change it for anything that I go to therapy and that I have this because some people don’t, but what Dr. Barber Garcia has done for me is something I wouldn’t change for anything,” Kelly Walski said.