22 February 2018

Wedding Day

On September 9, my twin sister got married to my favorite brother-in-law, who is perfect for her. Many hours went into planning this special day, which was exactly as she’d imagined, apart from a few details which were out of anyone’s control. On Saturday morning, the bridesmaids arrived at the church by 10 AM to get ready together. The wedding planner provided each bridesmaid with a Starbucks drink of her choice, which “hit the spot”. My sister hired two hairstylists to do the bridesmaids’ hair and makeup and then another to do her own, which was absolute perfection, as she looked stunning. My grandma provided food for all of us, but I was so busy getting ready that I forgot, or at least didn’t take the time to eat. Once we were finished getting ready, we all went into the hallway to see the bride in her dress and were all speechless!

We then carpooled to a local park for pictures and the weather was far beyond perfect. The groom and groomsmen were there prior to our arrival taking pictures, so once we arrived, it was time for the bride and groom’s “first look”, which was exceedingly romantic, as there was not a dry eye around.

We then took the rest of the pictures, and when it was time for the entire wedding party pictures, I started getting nauseous and noticed the signs of syncope; suddenly, I was on the ground and everyone staring at me with concern. I got back up, horribly embarrassed, but was then overtaken with a sudden need for the restroom, so my dad then carried me to the car and drove me to the nearest outhouse. My grandma then held my dress to keep it from getting soiled and after about fifteen minutes, all the pictures were already finished, so the rest of the bridal party headed back to the church to eat lunch but I drove with my parents to our house, where we quickly “whipped up” a protein shake, as there was little I was comfortable with eating due to severe anorexia nervosa. I “chugged” the protein shake and we rushed to the church, where the wedding was scheduled to begin in less than twenty minutes.














 Utterly embarrassed, I couldn’t face the bridal party, so I took off for my dad’s office in the church, where I could cry in silence. My twin then entered and was hurt that I didn’t want to come out and witness her special day, and decided that due to concerns for my safety, I would not be walking down the aisle as planned but would instead sit in the front row with the rest of my family. I began sobbing and was so ashamed of “ruining” my twin’s special day, but my aunt then came in and gave me a “pep talk” and held my hand as we walked into the ceremony together. It was difficult to watch the rest of the bridesmaids walk up the aisle and to imagine myself walking behind my younger sister, but the disappointment faded once I saw the pure joy on my twin sister, the bride’s face, as she gave her heart to the one man that had stolen her heart. 




My dad gave her away and we then sang some praise and worship songs and then the ceremony began. My dad had gotten his license to marry prior to the wedding, just so he could perform the marriage ceremony of his first daughter to get married. They then lit the unity candle and combined pink and grey sand and finally both set of parents gathered around the couple to pray for them.


 It was then time for the first kiss, and the bridal party was escorted out into the hallway. We then greeted everyone and headed to the gym, where the reception was held. My twin decided she wanted me to sit at the front of the gym with the rest of the bridal party, so I walked into the reception escorted by my “date” after our names were announced. It was nice to be a part of the reception, and everyone treated me as if nothing had happened, which was comforting. The gym was breathtaking, with lights strung across the ceiling and flowers everywhere, as well as gorgeous “touches” of my twin’s, as well as her fiancĂ©’s personality, including a pink sparkly tablecloth on the cake table and popcorn as favors for each guest. The reception was far beyond perfect and we had such a good time, and before we knew it, the time arrived to “pack everything up”, after we had wished the bride and groom “good luck’ as they headed to the hotel where they would spend the night and then “fly on a jet plane” to their honeymoon destination. This day was one I will treasure forever, even though things didn’t go quite as planned!















Inpatient Treatment

I know, it has been far too long since I last updated my blog! My life has been far beyond chaotic, as last year I had to drop out of my senior nursing semester due to medical complications caused by anorexia. After a doctor’s appointment in November 2017, I was forced to seek inpatient treatment STAT, as my weight had dropped to around 50% of my IBW, labs within critical range and vitals unstable; if I refused to go, I would likely die, so I packed my bags and my parents drove me to Pittsburgh, where I would spend the next four months. As much as I fought against it, I only had one choice for an inpatient eating disorder facility, which I had been to three times prior and vowed NEVER to go to again—however, God had other plans! I waited in the DEC for many hours and went through the process of being admitted, which included a physical, lab work and many questions; the next morning I was sent to the ninth floor, which is the dual diagnosis, or drug and alcohol floor, until a bed on the eating disorder floor opened. Later that day I was transferred to the eating disorder floor and began the long journey of medical stabilization. I was started on a low meal plan and increased every couple of days, but the process was delayed a bit due to unstable labs and refeeding syndrome. Once my labs were stabilized, my calories were increased, and my psychiatrist informed me that if I restricted even one time, I would be 302’d, or involuntarily committed and force tube fed. The food at the facility was less than appetizing and rotated on a weekly menu, which was the same every week. Every day included countless “fear foods”, including cheeseburgers, cake, pie, French toast, fries, cookies, etc. and one day I “caved” into restriction, only to refuse the “back-up”, which was Ensure Plus. The team then gave me a choice of either an all Ensure Plus diet or tube feeding, and I chose the Ensure since I refused to get a tube down my nose! Every couple of days the amount of Ensure only increased, until it was a nearly intolerable amount I had to complete in 45 minutes. I began to get sick off the large volume of Ensure Plus forced within 45 minutes and was thus losing weight, so the team decided to involuntarily commit me and feed me “over objection”, which basically meant I couldn’t refuse to be tube-fed. After threatening to rip my tube out, I was restrained to a hospital bed but ripped my tube out, only to have another one replaced, and my restraints tightened so I couldn’t rip it out again. I could get up and go to the bathroom once a shift, and security was called to escort me each time. On each side of me a security officer held my hands behind my back, so I wouldn’t pull out my tube, as my life literally depended on the constant nutrition, which I wouldn’t allow or at least tried to prevent, as I viewed it as poison. After four days of constant nutrition, I was taken out of restraints and slowly given back privileges, such as walking on my own and attending groups. After about a week or so, my phosphorous dropped to a critical low, so I was then immediately sent over to the neighboring hospital to be admitted for IV phosphorous and monitored during and after the infusion. While there, I was threatened once again to be restrained if I refused tube feeding, so I decided to allow it, but immediately began to manipulate the tube feeding. Since the hospital was not familiar with the many “tricks” accompanying anorexia, I was then stabilized and transferred back over to the inpatient unit, where I once again began to manipulate the tube feeding. The team couldn’t figure out why I was continuing to lose weight despite aggressive calorie increases, so I was then put on 24/7 monitoring and “caught”, so to speak, only to be once again forced into four-point restraints. I was hysterical about the situation and the ethics department consulted, who decided it was unethical for me to be restrained for another week, so after 24 hours, I was allowed to walk on my own and attend groups, accompanied by a staff member within arm’s reach. Once I exhibited “good” behavior, absent from pulling my tube out, I was given more freedom, including the chance to go in my room alone, without supervision. I was kept on tube feeding for another month, but one day ripped it out and the team decided it was pointless to keep replacing tubes if I was just going to rip them out, so I was given the choice of how I wanted to receive my nutrition: I could either be tube fed or choose to eat the food provided. I decided to meet them halfway and decided to try and eat a “maintenance” meal plan and receive the rest of my nutrition via overnight tube feeding. I was then slowly weaned off the tube feeding until I could eat ALL my calories orally. Once my weight was stabilized, I was then discharged to home and am now in the process of being admitted to a free Christian residential facility, where I will hopefully spend the next six months. These past four months have been by far the most difficult of my life, as all rights were taken away, including the right to freedom of choice, but I know I would not have survived had not such drastic measures been taken. While I was away at treatment, my grandma passed away, which was devastating for me, as she was one of my greatest supporters. I couldn’t attend her funeral but was given the opportunity to watch it via Facebook Live, which was a blessing! It’s comforting to know she’s in a better place and free of pain and suffering, but I still miss her and can’t believe she’s gone! I have chosen to spend the next six months in treatment, even though it’s scary and seems like a long time, since I know it’s what she would have wanted for me. She asked God right before she died to take her life and in exchange give ME life, so I could be free of anorexia. So, I continue to fight for my life with her in mind, as well as the many people who love and support me! 

07 August 2017

A Look into Anorexia




So, I've been hearing about this new movie called Feed, which is a recent film about Troian Bellisario's battle with anorexia. Troian, from the famous TV series Pretty Little Liars, wanted to portray how there is a separate, controlling voice in the eating disorder victim's head that becomes "safe", or comforting, promising to take care of the victim and convincing him/her that everyone else is against and only wants to inflict harm on him/her. I thought the movie did a good job of showing how this voice becomes overwhelmingly dominant and controlling and difficult to "drown out" or get rid of, which is true in my own experience with anorexia; this voice becomes your best friend and everyone else becomes your enemy, even when the opposite is true. I also liked how it showed the excruciating battle of getting yourself to eat or else being force fed, which is a struggle I've also experienced; most eating disorder facilities do indeed serve the unappetizing meals shown, which, if not consumed within the allotted time frame, result in having to drink a nutrition shake or else, the last measure, having a tube forcefully shoved down a nostril and into the stomach or intestine and feeding controlled by a man-made pump. Medications can, and are often, used to control the victim when the battle to eat becomes too extreme to control. It also does a good job of showing how often, in these facilities, one simply "does what they're told" or says what they know those in authority want to hear in order to simply get out of that "torture chamber", without ever truly getting "rid" of the ED voice. It also does a good job of showing the extreme personality changes which are experienced throughout the battle. One thing, however, I did not like, was the extreme partying atmosphere and the many inappropriate sex scenes, which could have been skipped over, since in my opinion were highly unnecessary. Over all, the movie Feed was a fairly realistic movie and, in my opinion, much better than the recent Netflix movie To the Bone, which was unrealistic, in my opinion. In the movie To the Bone, it shows an unconventional treatment center in which the victim is not expected to eat a set amount and there is also a lack of accountability/authority figures to "watch over" those enrolled. I also didn't like all of the inappropriate sex scenes shown. The movie did do a good job, however, of showing the tension and family dynamic changes which occur from an eating disorder, as it tears the family apart. Each movie had its strengths of at least attempting to personify the torture experienced by one caught within the grips of an eating disorder, but, having experienced it firsthand, I am highly disappointed, as there is still not a movie produced that accurately exhibits the torturous life with an eating disorder. Maybe, however, this is because everyone's experience is so vastly different and cannot be portrayed in a single movie. If you would like to at least get a glimpse of what life is like with anorexia specifically, I recommend Feed (skipping the sex and party scenes) which does a fairly decent job. To the Bone is also another option to see some of the experiences; feel free to check them out for yourself!




14 July 2017

Living without Fear

I know, it’s been far too long since I’ve written, but honestly, I just haven’t been able to develop the courage to sit down and write. I hear the devil whispering things like “that sounds stupid” or “you have nothing to say” and every time I am still, I must come face to face with these lies, as well as vulnerability. Writing and expressing the desires of my heart prevents me from self-imposed safeguards, allowing my fragile heart to be exposed and facing rejection and further abuse. I just want to protect myself and run away into what has become comforting and familiar over time, but I know that this comfort will literally kill me. I can no longer live a slave to the things of this world but am rather called to something much greater, if I will just simply allow God to lead me. I’ll admit—I am not very good at giving up control and trusting anyone but myself, even though my mind has led me astray countless times! God is showing me that it is OK to let down my guard and trust Him because He is not like others who have so violently hurt and abused me. No, I did not deserve this abuse and still don’t, as much as I believe otherwise, but instead He wants to so graciously pour out blessings and joy. “But I didn’t EARN it”, my performance-driven mind screams and then I hear God so quietly replying “you never will”, which is why He sent His Son to die for my sins and imperfections. I am weary and tired of following endless “rules and regulations”; the more I am told what to do the more I want to do the opposite, which frustrates me!
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
Romans 7: 15-24 (NIV)
I have become resentful from years of being rigidly controlled by man-made rules that I cling SO tightly, with my entire being, to any form of control, whether false or true. Sports and extreme fitness protected me from further sexual harassment, as well as gave me a false sense of achievement. Anorexia allowed me to override my very own body and its cries for attention to prove I was “invincible”, or so I thought, as well as allowed me to cling to some form of control when everything around me was spinning out of control. God is showing me, though, that by “following my mind” and the things that ED (eating disorder) tells me to do, control is being lost instead of gained. Starvation leads to a point where one cannot be trusted because the end literally leads to death if no action is taken. Sometimes extreme measures are called for but other times they may cause more harm than good. For many years I was forced to eat whatever was placed in front of me, no matter how revolting and utterly un-appetizing, because I’d proven I couldn’t feed myself on my own; left to my own desires, I would literally starve to death. It became familiar to have every calorie counted and food weighed, as well as pre-determined requirements dictating what I could or could not eat. What was it like to eat intuitively and listen to my body—to hear its deafening cries for sustenance and actually provide? Through countless hospitalizations and inpatient admissions, it had become normal and eventually comforting to have every meal and snack planned for me so all I had to do was eat, which alone was nearly too much for me to handle. It didn’t matter if I “didn’t like” the food that was being placed in front of me because I was an “addict”, which seemed to somehow make me “less of a person” and incompetent of decision-making. If I couldn’t trust my own mind, then who could I trust to keep me safe? If doctors told me I must have a tube forced down my nose or eat a greasy, unappetizing and overcooked cheeseburger, I had no choice but to comply. No matter how much agonizing fear and anxiety burned within me, I had to comply—or else bad things would happen. After years of neglecting the desires of my heart and living a slave to man-made rules and antidotes, this internal God-given voice within me—my very instinct—has become depressed and nonexistent. I’m tired of being told “If you’d just do this, you’d be healed” because when it doesn’t happen I feel utterly hopeless and beyond healing—like a failure to the world. Through much gentle pursuing, however, God is showing me that only He possesses the authentic key to the freedom I was born to desire. Trusting in man will only lead me “so far” and at times make me feel beyond hope but God will never give up on me, no matter how many times I run away into my own comfort and destruction. He is showing me, with much patience, that He has already given me everything I need to walk in victory but I need to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done—TRUST!
It has been over two months now since I had my surgery and the doctor cleared me to eat an unrestricted diet. After feeling tired and weary of being told what was “good for me” but later finding out I’d once again been deceived, I ran to the Bible—the only thing on Earth I know to be constant and unchanging. What does it really look like to be “healthy”, nourishing and loving my “sacred temple” rather than punishing and destroying it for every imperfection? How did they live so long in older days, when medicine was nearly nonexistent yet health and longevity thrived? Even though we now have all these “supplements” and weight loss tools, why is obesity becoming an epidemic and heart disease leading to strokes and even death? I don’t want to be terrified of food, yet when the world around me thunderously rages with constant and ever-changing lies and contradictions, I wonder if food really was made for my survival or if it, too, has become my enemy.
After crying out to God for answers and reaching “my end”, I was led to Trim Healthy Mama. Now I’m not saying that this is the “cure for life” and by eating this way I am exempt from disease but to me it just felt “right” and gave me a peace about eating for the first time in many years. I was tired of being told to just eat x number of calories, no matter how stuffed or starving I was, forcing myself to push aside my body’s intuition. I was tired of being told I couldn’t eat this, or couldn’t eat that or needed to meet a certain number of grains, fruit, veggies, fat, etc. to be healthy. What if my body wasn’t hungry for what had been already planned, but was instead craving something different? I fell in love with the Trim Healthy Mama Plan because it wasn’t just another “fad diet” restricting calories, eliminating food groups or pre-planning menus—it was “food freedom”. Rather than gorging myself on processed, sugar-laden man-made foods that my body cannot process, I’ve discovered that, according to 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “Anything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the Word of God and prayer”. I’m learning to tune into the needs of my body, which is scary after being told for so many years it could not be trusted; I’m learning that, no, I in my flesh may not be able to be trusted, but God is and He dwells inside of me, always ready to step in. I’m learning to eat and enjoy foods that once brought me to my knees in uncompromising fear because God created them with me in mind. It is fascinating to learn how the body was created and processes different types of fuels. I no longer need to fear carbs or fat but instead can enjoy the foods He provides and take pleasure in providing the best nutrition for His dwelling place, as a form of gratitude and honor. This has been one of the hardest changes I have ever made and many times along the way I have failed and wanted to give up, but God is so graciously pursuing me to “keep pressing on” because I was not intended to walk through this journey alone. I must cling to His mighty arms with the little strength that I possess and in turn, He will provide everything, if not more, that I need to be victorious day in and day out. On my own, I am apt for destruction but with His guidance and provision I am free to enjoy every blessing He provides! Sometimes I still want to fade away—to become invisible—out of fear I will once again be taken advantage of, but God is patiently showing me that He is not like other men; I can trust Him to protect and shield me from the destruction I’m destined for in my flesh! 

20 May 2017

Surgery

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through this surgery, it’s that I am a very stubborn patient! Convinced this was a simple procedure due to it being laparoscopic, requiring only four keyhole incisions, I thought I’d bounce back in no time, but it hasn’t been quite that easy, mostly because I decided to take up the “I know best” attitude, not letting anyone tell me what to do but instead doing the exact opposite! Yes, stubborn, I know, if not utterly stupid! Post-surgery I was instructed to stay on a full liquid diet for 7-10 days and then slowly (key word) advance to low residue, low fiber solid foods. However, being the “know it all” that I’ve become, I decided after three days of full liquids that I’d “had it” with this way of eating and my body was somehow different and could handle whatever I put it through. Yes, after my seven-hour spinal fusion, fusing my spine into a manipulated 20 degrees using 21 screws and 2 titanium rods, I developed the same attitude, thinking I, the uneducated patient, somehow knew best. If the surgeon said no exercise for a minimum of a month, it was ok to wait two weeks to start back into my old routine of push-ups, cardio, strength training and running “marathons”, right?  I was, after all, invincible, or so I thought. I prided myself in pushing my body far beyond the limits, setting new records and being able to handle whatever obstacle was thrown my way with “ease” (not mentioning the fact that I’d learned to abandon my weaknesses and pain within the dark, brutal depths of my abused and ever-increasingly lifeless heart, convinced I would never again let someone harm me in such excruciating and humiliating ways; I put up walls to keep everyone out, convinced the world was against me and the only person I could trust was myself). This surgery may not have been as serious as a seven-hour spinal fusion, but after all I’ve put my body through I’m discovering it no longer holds the capacity to “bounce back” with such ease and I am no longer (and never was) the exception. After three days of a full liquid diet, I decided I was feeling pretty good and therefore could handle solid food, right? Well, not just any solid food; I decided to give into my cravings of fresh fruit and vegetables (full of high fiber and difficult to process), as well as whole grains with seeds—everything I’d been instructed to avoid for a minimum of four weeks. After about a week or so of eating this way, however, I’ve never felt more miserable but tried to convince myself as well as others that I was “fine” and once again “invincible”. I’ve had zero energy, excruciating gas pains as well as bloating which is complicated by my tendency to restrict my intake any time I “feel fat” or bloated due to years held captive by the nearly fatal chains of anorexia and self-starvation. It was a slow decline, but I’m seeing how the voices of ED crept back in after surgery, which is exactly what we’d all feared. It started with the bowel preparation the day before surgery, requiring consumption of nothing but clear liquids as well as many laxatives to “clear out” my system. Naturally, as anyone would, I lost weight due to the low number of calories consumed as well as evacuating my entire digestive system of all waste. The day of surgery finally arrived and my poor stomach churned with hunger pains due to the fact that I couldn’t eat or drink a single thing after midnight and it was now nearing lunch time. As I was registered for the upcoming procedure, an IV line placed and fluids pumped into me, I heard my ED screaming at me with urges to “restrict, restrict, restrict”, when I knew I was in trouble! The surgeon, who was known for his crazy, bold socks, came to check on me prior to surgery and I meekly surprised him with a gift of superman socks I’d searched for and purchased as a thank you for being my “superman” and FINALLY getting the job done after many years of waiting. His face lit up at the sight of these socks and he promptly changed into them as we waited for the room to be prepped and sanitized following his last procedure. 


As I was taken to the operating room and laid on a cold, metal table beneath many bright lights, the kind staff carefully explained all that would be happening while I was put to sleep. A tube was inserted down my throat, another IV inserted, catheter placed and four keyhole incisions made as my abdominal cavity was inflated with CO2 in order to form a dome over my organs, protecting them from accidental harm. To cover the basics of what took place during those two hours, my rectum was cut from all surrounding tissues and stretched up to my backbone, where it was fastened and secured by many stitches. When I awoke, requiring about an hour to recover from the anesthesia, the first thing I asked for was a grape popsicle to moisten my parched lips. They said I had to wait until I was taken to a room and was then joined by my vivacious, caring surgeon who was still wearing his superman socks; he informed me that I have very “good anatomy” and everything went as planned, without complications. I was then taken through many hallways of the massive Cleveland Clinic to a shared room where I would spend the next day or so. Finally, as it was nearing dinner time, I was given my long awaited grape popsicle and a liquid dinner tray arrived, of which I left untouched due to the nausea and pain. My incisions hurt with each breath and intestines churned with discomfort as my body was still traumatized by the burning through flesh and manipulation of organs which were meant to be left untouched. Once I was settled into my room and pain medication administered, I told my family to leave because they’d been by my side the entire day and we all needed some rest. Doctors and nurses came to check on me throughout the night, awaking me every couple of hours to monitor vital signs and administer pain medication in order to keep my pain under control. Early Friday morning I was awakened by a young resident doctor who asked me many questions regarding how I was feeling, informing me I might be able to go home later that day. However, things did not progress quite as quickly as anticipated and I struggled to force myself to eat due to the pain; the doctors were most concerned, however, by the fact that I wasn’t yet passing gas which meant the CO2 was still trapped within my abdomen, explaining the piercing “gas pains”. I managed to force down about a fourth of my cream of wheat but struggled to get much more in; my surgeon came back to check on me later in the day and we were both uncomfortable with me going home that night, so I stayed overnight to give my body more time to heal. It was also good I didn’t go home that day because my IV had been discontinued but I struggled to drink enough to prevent dehydration and my magnesium also dropped, requiring two bags of IV magnesium. So, on Saturday, after lunch, I was discharged and picked up at the front entrance by my loving dad and sister. The car ride was painful but not as painful as it would’ve been had I not forced myself to make laps around the nurse’s station throughout the day, which promoted healing. 

After three days on a liquid diet, convinced I was now “healed”, I gave in and ate a turkey sandwich. Exempt from any negative consequences following digestion, I decided to abandon all the surgeon’s instructions for another four to seven days on full liquids and slow advancement to soft low fiber foods, choosing to instead eat a large salad with grilled chicken and fresh vegetables, as well as dried fruit and all the other foods I was instructed to avoid for a minimum of four weeks. After about a week of eating this way, my symptoms caught up with me and I struggled to bounce back. I suffered from painful fluid retention and bloating, complicated by the fact that I wasn’t drinking enough to allow my body to rid itself of the IV fluid and toxins. I’ve also been struggling from extreme allergies, which left me beyond miserable but once again in denial; after finally having enough of “trying to be strong and invincible”, I gave in and allowed my body the rest it so desperately needed. I also decided to “give in” and follow the surgeon’s instructions to the best of my ability, despite the fact that it went against everything ED taught me and what had become familiar. Instead of high fiber, low calorie foods my body was desperately craving higher calorie, easy to digest foods in order to allow my digestive system to rest rather than work in overdrive. So, I’ve been learning to “take it easy”, as much as I hate it, which in turn allows me to heal faster and more thoroughly. And yes mom, you did know best, although you couldn’t tell me otherwise! ;) I guess the statement “mother knows best” is true, after all! This surgery is revealing many things about my true nature and stubbornness, as much as I fight against it! God is showing me that it’s ok to let people in and care for me—that not everyone is against me. He’s helping me to tear down the many walls I’ve created for protection which at one time were helpful but have now become destructive. With His gentle guidance, I am becoming the woman He created me to be! 

29 April 2017

Relentless Fight

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’” Matthew 6:27

      Why do I let fear and worry torment me, I constantly ask myself—it’s not like worrying will make it happen, after all! “What we worry about frequently never happens anyway, and if it is going to happen, worrying won’t prevent it. God’s Word promises us that He will take care of us if we trust in Him” (Joyce Meyer). I remember a time when I was so paralyzed by fear I couldn’t even lift a spoon to my mouth and feed myself—the very requirement of living and breathing—and so admitted myself to the Cleveland Clinic so they could feed me. The guilt and shame tormented me with every bite but without it I wouldn’t survive. In my mind I was “fat”, even though bones protruded through my skin and lanugo covered my poor, failing body in attempts to maintain a normal or even below normal core body temperature. One of the craziest things about Anorexia is body dysmorphia, where one cannot see oneself accurately. According to the Mayo Clinic, “body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that, to others, is either minor or not observable”. “They can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look fine; their thoughts may cause severe emotional distress and interfere with their daily functioning; they may miss work or school, avoid social situations and isolate themselves, even from family and friends, because they fear others will notice their flaws” (ADAA). How could something so seemingly small and insignificant become alarmingly powerful and lead to life-threatening actions? I’ve come to realize that because I suffer from this disorder, as well as perfectionism, I will never be satisfied with myself; the number on the scale is NEVER low enough until death occurs, which never seems to be a possibility in the moment. 


Many times I’ve tasted death and come too close for comfort; truly, I have been told by many doctors, it is a miracle I am still living and breathing, with no or minimal damage to my severely abused and tortured body. Days on end without eating and relying on coffee to disguise or numb the agonizing and piercing hunger pains relentlessly churning within me brought me comfort and became the very existence of normal life. Fear of passing out and the world becoming aware of my deepest darkest secret—starvation—paralyzed each moment, afraid someone would force me to consume but even a single calorie. In my mind, this was the worst possibility. No, this is not living but instead the exact representation of death; yes, it was in fact like living within the depths of hell, surrounded by torture and piercing life-stealing screams.
      The day I was told I had to go back to COPE, my worst nightmare, I remember crying out to God in adamant anger; why would He allow such a thing? COPE, or Center for Overcoming Problem Eating in Pittsburgh, took away every inch of control, forcing me to eat whatever was served on my plate no matter how scary or seemingly impossible it may appear. The scariest of foods, including tantalizing and rich chocolate cake, buttery French toast, greasy pizza and cheeseburgers, to name a few, left me in excruciating torment, convinced I would not survive even one bite without blowing up. Each day, every meal and snack, I had to set aside my tortuous fears and find the strength within me to not just take one bite but finish each life-threatening calorie. How could one so malnourished and near death’s door be so violently afraid of the single thing that would bring life and prevent death? No, I have not yet come to a conclusion of why these things occur, but I know how real they all seem!
      Never did I expect life in recovery to be so difficult, but I must remember that nothing worth having comes easy. Since coming home, I have been struggling to consume enough calories to prevent dropping weight, which is a problem due to my upcoming surgery in which I am expected to lose weight. I am SO incredibly excited to finally, after four years of waiting, be getting surgery, but also nervous because I must completely change the way I eat and face many fears; I’m used to a high fiber, low calorie diet but now must maintain a low fiber, high calorie diet to prevent recurrence of my prolapse. No, this will not be easy, but God will get me through, I believe!

13 January 2017

2016

           It’s hard to believe 2016 has come and gone; it seems like just last week I was starting my Spring 2016 semester but now am getting ready to begin my Spring 2017 semester, which is crazy! Honestly, I think 2016 just might’ve been the toughest year for me; spending two weeks in the Cleveland Clinic after almost being killed by fluid overload and refeeding syndrome as well as infection, having to drop out of my semester and almost not finishing the last semester, four months at COPE fighting for my life and countless hospitalizations after near death experiences left me weary and exhausted, wondering if things could ever get better.



    
          For the first time in almost three years, I was home for Christmas, so I wanted to make it really special. Instead of stocking stuffers, I decided to make candy: I made buckeyes, chocolate covered Oreos, chocolate covered strawberries, Reese’s trees, Oreo balls, mint Oreo balls and red velvet Oreo balls, as well as chocolate candy cane pops. I also made “Grinch hats” for watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, which we never then watched but ended up watching “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” instead, which was hilarious! Everyone loved the candy and it looked so festive, which made me excited! We had a nice dinner together and then opened gifts; I got a gorgeous ring which I am in love with, as well as charms for my locket; my favorite is a crown reminding me I am a Princess, as well as a cupcake which I am obsessed with. I also got a warm sweater, framed picture and glitter Starbucks tumbler. We had such a blast opening gifts and just loving each other and then watched “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”; I bought everyone their own mug, which they then filled with warm, fresh-brewed coffee as we snuggled in cozy blankets. All in all, it was definitely one of my favorite Christmases; I just love holidays!
















           2016 has been brutal, and at times we didn’t know if I would make it through, but God spared my life countless times and I am pleased to announce I am doing well. I found a new dietitian after my stay at the Cleveland Clinic for kidney failure and she has been such a blessing! She gave me a new meal plan, which at first I said I would never follow since it seemed far too excessive, but have been trying my hardest for three days now and couldn’t be more proud, plus I feel a hundred times better! God is good! I also got a new adult doctor, who I absolutely adore! Last week we discussed options for treatment, which really motivated me to “kick it into gear” and get serious about recovery; it has been hard but SO rewarding!

           This semester in college I am doing my preceptorship; I applied for Akron Children’s but still haven’t heard back so am hoping to hear within the next week. I am SO excited to be really getting a hands on approach and get a feel for what it’s really like to be a nurse!