Monday, February 21, 2011

When Stomach Flu is a Good Thing

Last weekend Emily came down with a severe bout of stomach flu. It made us a little nervous, but things have been going so well that I didn't feel the need to react to her lack of eating for the first 24 hours. Instead I decided to ride it out and see what happened once she got past the symptoms. By Sunday night she was ravenous and although she choose her items carefully she had no problem eating them with the gusto of person who is hungry and relieved to be able to eat. I kept a close watch on her for the next few days because I was aware that any restriction for any reason can trigger the ED thoughts, voice and feelings in her.

A few days later, as we were driving to the hospital for her weigh in, she shared with me that she was feeling ready to move forward with recovery. When I asked her what had prompted the shift she said it was because having the flu reminded her of two years ago when she was too sick with mono, to eat and how she felt so relieved to have an excuse not to eat. But this time when she was too sick to eat she was disappointed and worried about it. And that made her realize that she is further along in the recovery process than she thought.

While I was overjoyed to hear that she was feeling ready to choose recovery, I wasn't all that surprised because for the last month she has been successfully taking full responsibility for her breakfasts and lunches. I have to confess that we kind of blindly stumbled into her taking control of her nutrition as a result of unexpected house renovations that resulted in Emily having to move in with relatives. At first we talked a lot about meal planning and did the food shopping together but then it just evolved into her taking over most of the planning, shopping and preparation of her breakfasts and lunches with only minimal supervision by her aunt. I feel that in the past we have gave Emily control of her food too early in the process.

I hope that her success with managing her meals without supervision has bolstered her confidence and made recovery seem a little more do-able. But I have been fooled by the ED so many times in the past that I know there is a possibility that her words, behaviours and even her weight could be yet another elaborate rouse on the part of this demon disease. But until I see evidence of slips and relapse I am going to enjoy this bubble of contentment.

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