“And so it was, that she, having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised.” Hebrews 6:15
They say that when you give up everything: dreams, ambitions and all, that God then has the chance to bring beauty into your life. Why is it that we—stubborn, insufficient and wholly incompetent beings—are convinced to know best? After today, I have never been more convinced that God is in control, even if we wholeheartedly run away from His mercy in order to dwell in our sin. Through scars inflicted by legalism, I’ve always believed God would only accept me if I followed His commandments “to the tee”, living in false perfection and unabridged pride; I also believed pain was a result of imperfection: a punishment for falling short of God’s glory, which we are all destined to do. Through these scars, it’s been immensely difficult for me to accept God’s love after believing I’d never been worthy, which is true yet the reason for the blood shed on the Cross. I’ve been running away, fearing the extent of His punishment after the immense extent of my sins, when all He wants is for me to turn back, running like a little child into His loving and protective arms of love. Today, as I sat in my hospital bed, discouraged from hearing the news that I can’t yet be discharged, God showed me just what He means by forgetting our pasts and merely wanting to drench His children in love, mercy and beautiful profits. One thing I’ve been called to give up is my job as a nurse tech in the ICU, which was an amazing experience but just too much for me to handle right now, due to the high stress, responsibilities, and expectations of nursing school as well as fighting for my life against the lethal demons of anorexia nervosa and suffering physically from its effects on my body. As I waited to hear back from my supervisor, with anxiety building with each second, I was convinced this would be a disaster, affecting any future employment I may seek out. However, after listening to a voice-mail having come during my consultation with my doctor, I was absolutely blown away. The voice-mail was from my current supervisor in the ICU, saying she completely understands my situation and is willing to take me off of all schedules, without having to hand in my two week notice; she was sorry to see me go, and even offered to return my job back should I ever desire to come back, since I’d been “such a good addition to their staff with my optimism, bubbly attitude, hard work, quick learning & willingness to fulfill any task, as well as, apparently, many families and patients complimenting my care and positively energetic spirit”. I am still in awe of God’s mercy and grace, as nothing I have done is worthy of such credit and acknowledgement.
Yesterday, as my physician came into my room to see how I was doing, she told me some immensely eye-opening facts, helping me to realize just how lucky I am to be alive. She told me that never, in all her years of practice with eating disorders, had she seen anyone so sick from anorexia nervosa; had I waited one more day to come in, I most likely would not have survived. She also said she’d never been so scared for a person in her life and hopes to never have to experience that again; she was torn as whether or not to send me to the ICU, which would only give me immediate IV fluids, or to send me to the regular floor which had less supervision should something happen but provided for a longer stabilization period. She explained to me that normally in anorexia, peripheral hypothermia and cyanosis is normal, but with me it was central, or all over (as indicated by thick lanugo covering my body, but especially my back), indicating my body was so malnourished that all systems were shutting down to preserve and shunt the energy to vital organs such as my brain and heart. She also explained that the reason my heart rate is normal when I’m dehydrated is because my body has learned to survive off of dehydration; now that they've hydrated me, my body has gone into panic mode, dropping my heart rate into the thirties. Through all of this stress I've put my body through, my heart has been affected, and so I may always have a low heart rate, averaging in the forties rather than the normal range of 60-100. My blood pressure has also failed to normalize, despite the large amount of IV fluids, re-hydration and nutrition, which is also a concern. So, I’ve been here a total of seven days tomorrow, and in order to be discharged, my heart rate must maintain within the forties, no nighttime episodes of drastic heart rate decelerations can occur as they have been, I must gain or at least begin to gain the weight I lost since being taken off of IV fluids, I must eat 100% of my meal plan (regardless if I like what they send up or not) and my blood pressure must remain normalized for 24 hours. They’ve also kept me longer due to starting me on a new med which has a high risk of toxicity, and due to my low weight, they want to monitor to make sure the right dose is found and make sure I don’t get overdosed with a toxic amount of the medicine in my blood. So, all in all, it’s not all bad; even though I’m beyond tired of confinement within these tight corners of a hospital room, staring at the same five walls for nearly seven days now, I’ve learned many irreplaceable lessons I’d never experienced had I not decided to make the right choice: no, not the easiest choice by any means, but instead the exact opposite—the choice to be real and seek help, losing all control in order to gain my life. Through this experience, I’ve seen many nurses and have discovered just which nurses I never want to be like; they've taught me how not to take care of and treat patients; but then there are others who have showed me how a nurse was intended to act: to care for patients in a selfless way, treating them kindly even if they may not deserve it, checking in frequently to see if they need anything, maintaining a cheerful attitude while serving, and doing the things most would consider lowly or undesirable. Each nurse has taught me something, both good and bad, allowing me to build upon my own nursing philosophy and how I want to treat patients and approach nursing in general. Also, through experiencing the philosophy of yet another physician, I have discovered what does and most of all, what doesn't work for eating disorders and can use this information in the future to help develop the best possible approach to eating disorder treatment. Eating disorders still remain absolutely misunderstood, overlooked, minimized, stereotyped and belittled, so my goal as a medical provider is to use my own knowledge and experiences, combining it all with current evidence based practice in order to develop a protocol or customized approach to treatment, in hopes that eating disorders can be eradicated or at least better understood and treated. Right now, in this current day and age, as I suffer to find a treatment team that actually understands eating disorders but is also affordable, I’ve come to find that Ohio and even the United States in general really doesn't have many options, at least quality ones. As eating disorder prevalence only continues to increase, this needs to change; we cannot afford to offer poor care to suffering individuals and expect them to ever walk in freedom. What we need is a proven, conceptualized, holistic and most importantly faith based approach so that those suffering don’t have to be hospitalized time and time again, as I have experienced. We need to get to the root of the matter: the heart of the disease in order for any progress to be made. I believe God is still teaching me, through my past, current and future experiences, exactly what this approach resembles because He is, after all, the Healer of all and holds the key to all impenetrable locks. Maybe this is part of why I’ve been called into nursing: to provide care and advocate for those suffering from the life-threatening illness of an eating disorder. All I know is that wherever He leads, I will boldly follow, even if it brings me through more pain than this world may ever comprehend. The pain will be well worth it, as the empathy, compassion and knowledge I’ve gained and continue to gain far exceeds the temporary sensations of traumatizing pain.