Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Magic Plate is back on the table

After a tortuous weekend for Emily, on Monday she made the decision to stop restricting with our help. She said she really didn't have a choice because there is so much that she wants to do with her life and she can't do it if she isn't healthy. I was surprised by how quickly she was able to shift her thinking because on Sunday I was thinking she was going to end up back in the hospital because she couldn't eat anything and was an emotional and mental wreck.

On Sunday afternoon, after a dreadful morning, I was desperately trying to think of something to distract her from her pain and a friend offered to take us kayaking. She really wanted to go but I was concerned that she was too weak to manage it safely. We checked her heart rate, which seemed okay, but I said she had to eat something in order to go. She managed to get some fruit and yogurt down and I brought some snacks. She kayaked for about 20 minutes and came back to shore, she wouldn't admit it to me but I think she was exhausted. While I was out on the water she ate some more food, then asked to go swimming. Together we swam a couple of hundred meters, the water was 24c degrees, which is very warm for us, which made it tolerable for Emily. That night she ate several pieces of sushi. It took her a long time and she ate it while watching TV, but she ate the entire package, which was the most I had seen her eat all week.

Monday morning she surprised me by getting up early to say good bye to me because I was going back to work. She seemed 'lighter' mentally. Monday afternoon when we talked on the phone, I commented that she seemed a little less stressed and that's when she told me she had made her decision. when I got home, she presented me with a list of menu items that she finds easier to eat and a grocery list.

Tuesday we met with the team, she told them her decision and we discussed strategy for the next week which included upping her medication to help reduce her anxiety over eating, refeeding at 1200 calories a day and working up to 1800, no exercise or driving the car for a couple of weeks. Her vital signs are all good, her weight is still within a healthy range. We dusted off the magic plate and she re-started her slow climb up recovery mountain.

The refeeding has had it ups and downs this week but it has been more up than down. By Thursday she was ready to spend time with some friends, and she spent Friday studying for a math exam that is coming up on Tuesday. She says she is seeing a friend today, which I hope she does and tomorrow we have plans to attend a fundraiser for a wildlife animal sanctuary that she has a great interest in. I see my role, in addition to refeeding, requiring me to throw interesting and fun 'life' activities into her path to keep her connected to her motivation to be healthy. I even told her she can use the 'I need to be distracted' card to manipulate me into taking her just about anywhere she wants to go.

For the most part, I have been feeling very calm and strong and steady throughout this latest episode, which I know is because of my yoga practice, especially the meditation. I meditate on the qualities of a beautiful tree in my yard every morning. It helps me to stay rooted, grounded, consistent, protective, accepting, nourished and open and flexible to whatever the wind blows through my life. That's not to say that I haven't had moments of sheer terror that the E.D. would destroy Emily, and moments of regret for not seeing it sooner, and moments of self-pity for having to do all the work related to refeeding. But they are just moments that I allow to come and then let go. I know I can make the choice to let them go or hang on to them. A year ago, when all this started for me, I didn't know how to let them go and they consumed me. It turns out that the E.D. has been a powerful catalyst for some extraordinary changes in our lives. I am not grateful for the E.D. but I am grateful for the positive changes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

If I am back to blogging, the E.D. is back

Well truth to be told, it was never really gone. And truth to be told, I never really felt like it was in spite of my darling Emily's very exceptional acting abilities. Upon reflection, I think there was maybe a five week episode, following the hospital stay, where healthy Emily was stronger than the E.D. Then we went to the cottage for five weeks and the E.D. got stronger and stronger but the restricting got harder and harder so binging and purging silently took up residence with us for most of our time away.

Once again, I found myself observing behaviours that seemed unnervingly familiar. And once again, I was chalking them up to adolescence in the face of Emily's exasperated "Really, I'm fine Mom" responses to my queries. Apparently 'really I'm fine' is code for 'the E.D. is alive and well'. But a few days after our return home, Emily bought two items at the grocery store that screamed 'Hi it's the E.D., remember me?' - rice crackers and cup of soup. And like a combination lock tumbling through the right sequence of numbers, all my little nagging thoughts clicked into place. My mind reoriented itself to look through the E.D. filter and reality took hold. I was standing in the kitchen, kind of verbalizing my stream of consciousness in real time, and I saw the look of sad agreement on Derek's face and knew he and I were on the same page.

We had a team meeting set up in a few days but I wanted to let Emily know that we were gravely concerned so that she wouldn't be blindsided at the meeting. I took the opportunity to mention a couple of my concerns to her, which she refuted at first. But I like to think that I saw a little bit of relief in her. Relief that the cat was out of the bag, or perhaps that now she didn't have to go it alone.

She said that she didn't want to talk about this to anyone so I was the relieved one at our meeting, when Dr. C, was able to draw her out of her fierce reluctance to disclose her thoughts and feelings. But what poured out of her was so very hard to hear. The anorexia voice has taken over her thinking 24/7, she is engaged in full blown restricting, although thankfully the purging has stopped.

Dr. C, has given her four options and four days to consider them. She can continue restricting, try to stop restricting on her own, try to stop with the help of the team and us, or go back in the hospital. She has been given an exercise to use to help her make her decision. She is wandering around the house in the E.D. fugue, unable to distract her mind from the 'voice' to get any relief, unable to eat, unable to stop thinking about eating, unable to choose health and life over the power of the E.D.

She told me last night that she still can't believe that this is happening to her. She is embarassed and ashamed and doesn't want to let everyone down and she hopes that people won't find out. We are in holding pattern until Tuesday when she has to make her decision then the team will instruct us on how to move forward. I think that if she chooses to let us help her that we can implement the 'magic plate' strategy and bump up her team interaction to help get her back to being strong enough to give the E.D. the heave ho, if not for good, than at least for a while. I wish I could stop her suffering and mental anguish, it is the curse of motherhood to not be able to kiss it and make it better.