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I suppose it’s time I could sit down and write a quick update. I’ve been at ERC for 7 1/2 weeks now. The days take forever to get through but the weeks seem to have flown by. Probably because all the days are the same and I have no external events (i.e. exams) to mark the time. I finally reached maintenance weight this week so now I get to start decreasing my meal plan. I had a decrease on Friday and will have another on Tuesday and then after that can discuss an “exercise contract.” Pretty sure their definition of exercise is not quite the same as mine, but still it will be nice to not get scolded every time I decide to walk somewhere.

This week I have felt more like myself than I have in years. My mood is up, I enjoy socializing and hanging out with people. It’s been amazing and so much fun. I’m looking forward to enjoying family and friends back home with my new (old) self. And that will be happening soonish…I fly home May 14th. Can. Not. Wait!!!

Week 2

It’s hard to believe another whole week has gone by. I started week 2 by getting moved up to “level 2.” A somewhat arbitrary designation–basically it means you are completing all your meals and get to eat with other level 2 people. They aren’t struggling as much so it makes it easier to get through meals too. Because I’m in residential, it also means I can go on passes for meals/snacks off the unit on my own. I went on my first pass on Tuesday just for morning snack….meaning I went to Starbucks!!! We only get one cup of mediocre coffee in the mornings and I have been struggling with that. While I sort of wished I had found a local coffee shop, the Starbucks across the street (that taunts me day and night with its glowing sign) hit the spot. This weekend though with everyone visiting me I have more passes! Hopefully involving more coffee and possibly a diet coke….

Here’s how my days go

5:55 am: wake up, go wait in line outside the bathroom

6:20 am: bathrooms finally open, stand in the line for vital signs, pee in a cup, put on a see through gown, get weighed, hope I did all that quickly enough that I don’t have to wait in line for one of the 5 showers that 20 girls have to share

7:15 am: get meds, waste some time

7:30 am: breakfast

8:30 am: morning goals/intentions group

9:15 am: waste some more time, bathroom

9:45 am: snack

10 am: waste some more time

10:15 am: fresh air/outside time!!

10:30 am: some sort of therapy group (ACT, DBT, values, menu planning)

11:15 am: stand in med line, bathroom

11:45 am: lunch

12:15 am: waste some more time

12:30 pm: group

1:30 pm: waste some more time

1:40 pm: fresh air/outside time again!!!

2:00 pm: waste some more time, bathroom

2:15 pm: snack

2:30 pm: stand in line to get my electronics/free time

3:30 pm: turn electronics in (sad face), afternoon group

4:30 pm: waste more time

4:40 pm: another fresh air time!

5 pm: waste some more time, stand in med line again, bathroom again

5:30 pm: more f#$$ food (aka dinner)

6 pm: wrap-up group

6:30 pm: stand in line for my electronics again

6:40 pm: last fresh air time

7 pm: free time

8:15 pm: why the hell do we eat so often??? (aka night snack/tea time)

8:35 pm: more free time

9:15 pm: turn in electronics, stand in med line one more time, bathrooms open for an hour to get ready for bed hope there is an open sink to spit my toothpaste in

10 pm: sleep

Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat

Speaking of which….it’s 9:13 meaning I have to turn in my electronics in 2 minutes…

Week 1

I feel like I should write something to update people but I don’t know what. I’m tired. My stomach/GI system are very unhappy right now. I’m somewhat depressed. But I guess I’m in the right place to move forward. Hopefully the physical stuff will begin to improve and with some more weight my brain will come back.

The past 2 days

Thursday Feb 20th

1:30 pm: appointment with my psychiatrist (Dr. H). I’m assuming that it will just be a regular appointment. I have been struggling and I have been considering more intensive treatment, but my psychiatrist visits are more of a formality and she doesn’t do much with me. My therapist and the counselor at the med school are the people I really talk with about this stuff.

1:45 pm: Dr. H wants me to go to the ER and get a “medical” evaluation. I am adamant that I will not do that. It’s not that I’m against being medically evaluated I just think it’s a waste of healthcare dollars to send me to the ER to do it. Why can’t I do outpatient tests and if they come back abnormal I’ll come back? I beg her to call my therapist, W, thinking he would side with me that I don’t need to go to the ER. I am wrong and he agrees with her. Shit. Apparently I am a little too adamant about not going, Dr. H sends off a page and suddenly there are 2 people at her door to escort me to the ER.

2 pm: ER. Awkward chief complaint: my psychiatrist wants me to be medically evaluated for an eating disorder? EKG, blood draws, hang out, chat with the on-call psychiatrist, wait for the test results to come back normal so I can leave. His response: “you don’t know then?” Clearly, I don’t know. Turns out Dr. H. got a legal hold and they are admitting me to one of the inpatient psych units. It is not the general eating disorder floor fortunately.

2-3 pm: ER. I frantically start calling and texting people. The staff physician on the admitting floor comes to talk to me. I am so fortunate that currently the staff physician is my favorite psychiatrist in the whole facility (Dr. F). He is down to earth, normal, listens to patients, and gets stuff down. He tells me that he has already arranged to work privately with me with absolutely no resident or medical student involvement. He then does all my admission stuff in the ER while we are waiting so once I get to the floor I should have things set. He asks me what he can do to help and lobbies to allow me to eat a vegetarian diet, remain off the strict eating disorder protocol, and have my laptop. He must be a good persuader because I am allowed these privileges–dependent upon my not abusing them.

4 pm: M is taking this surprising well. He is going to take care of my dog and bring me some stuff tonight. We are both pissed at Dr. H.

On the unit: Matt brings me stuff. Dr. F stops by to talk to me again. He says that W is already working with facilities to get me admitted to a different eating disorder treatment program as soon as possible. Basically I am here to stay “safe” until I can be admitted. I am a ball of anxiety and spend most of the evening pacing the hall. The staff here know nothing about the typical eating disorder protocol (basically zero movement) and while I am not on the protocol I know I probably shouldn’t be walking as much as I am and am terrified someone is going to call me out on it. They let me order a safe meal and pace the night away. I’m not sure if ordering a safe meal is abusing my privileges or not. If I didn’t order something safe I would very likely purge it so I err on the side of what I think I can eat and not purge and if someone gets angry then I will deal with it.

Friday Feb 21

I am awake half the night. Nothing unusual. This has been happening more frequently the past couple weeks. I fall asleep and an hour later I am wide awake for another 3-4 hours. I am pissed that they won’t let me hang out in the day room and color so I sit in my bed and read a magazine by the faint hall light until 3 am. I wake up at 5:50 when my alarm usually goes off. They won’t let me take a shower until 7:30 am. WTF.

A friend comes to visit, the medical school counselor comes to see me with forms to sign, the staff dr comes to see me, a medical school dean comes to see me. I pace the halls. Even with the safe meals I can’t seem to finish them but I am committed to not purging so I do what I can. I pace the halls some more. Dr. F comes back and drops the legal hold and lets me sign in voluntarily. M and my mother come to visit. Dr. F comes to talk to me briefly with them when they are there. It is somewhat awkward because while he doesn’t bring up purging (thank god) he brings up depressive symptoms and sleep that I haven’t really let on. Throughout the visit Matt gives me some strange looks. I choose to not elaborate on why I am here. Apparently my dad is angry too. Dinner is the hardest meal yet. I’m not sure how much I will be able to do on my own over the weekend. I guess I’ll tackle those meals when they come.

And here I am Friday night. It has been confirmed that I will be admitted to a treatment center in Denver the only question is when. So I am almost certainly stuck here for the weekend. My roommate wasn’t too bad yesterday but today she is driving me nuts. At least the staff basically ignores me.

I’m mad that W hasn’t come to see me. I’m thankful that Dr. H hasn’t come to see me because I’m not sure I could be civil.

I want to cry. I can’t cry. I alternate between wanting to sprint the halls and curl up in a ball in a dark corner. Neither of those is acceptable so I compromise by pacing the halls at a moderate speed.

Recent Thoughts

Apparently blogging is my most recent study procrastination strategy ;)

So many things to think about in the past week.

1. I passed my human organ systems exam. Despite feeling excessively prepared I came through with an 81% overall. Primarily missing histology questions. I didn’t study histology at all and got 93% on the non-histology portion. Note to self: study more histology.

2. I am totally freaking out about my immunology exam. Seriously don’t know what I’m even supposed to know for it. It’s all random letters (C1q binds the activated IgG, then activates C4b which activates C2a then the C4bC2a complex activates C5b which leads to formation of the C5bC6C7C8C9 MAC and C5a runs off to stimulate TNF-a etc etc)

3. The Biggest Loser. All I have to say is wow. It’s a strange experience though. She is approximately my height and weighs exactly what I do right now. I look at her and can sort of see what people are freaking out about, but I look at myself and swear to god that I definitely look 10-15 lbs heavier than I am. So I’m in this strange place where I actually almost understand why people are worried about me because I do think Rachel doesn’t look all that good. But then my brain goes in to overdrive to tell me that I definitely don’t look like that and could still lose more weight without looking any different.

4. And speaking of weight….I’m on a short rope right now (surprise surprise!). This seems to happen every time I’m in therapy and lose weight and yet every single time I don’t understand why people make such a big deal of it. My therapist told me I had 2 weeks to stop losing weight (I’m pretty sure he would have preferred one, but he doesn’t believe that’s a completely fair measurement). He said that he had seen a significant change in just the short time I had been back to see him. Now I am totally paranoid that everyone is looking at me and thinking I’ve lost too much weight and the worst part is I don’t even know what I look like to them! And then there’s the whole I have to stop losing weight thing too. We discussed the 3 main factors: eating, purging, and running. I had a minor outburst at his suggestion that reducing exercise might be good for me (ok, he said it was a major outburst). And I’ve been trying to stop purging for well over a year and haven’t succeeded, so surprisingly food appears to be the variable most easily modified here. And it’s not easy at all. I also spent a good half hour trying to convince W that my exercise was not a problem at all and that I was not obsessed with it. Apparently arguing about running when he didn’t even say I had to stop running does not give the impression that I am not obsessed with exercise. He didn’t really say much about what happens at 2 weeks if I can’t maintain my weight, he just said we would have to discuss other options. I then told him as long as I was passing tests I wasn’t leaving school. We both have concerns about my ability to do this on my own.

5. My car died today. I was just starting on a ~35 min drive to a clinic to shadow a doctor for one of my classes and 5 minutes in my car stopped responding to the gas pedal (while I was on the interstate). I was just going on an entrance ramp to another interstate and stopped to see if I could get it to work again. But alas, it only got worse. Fortunately, if my car had to die it chose a very good moment and place to do so. I was still very close to home and on the entrance ramp there were 2 tow trucks winching a car out of the ditch (from the snow/icy roads we had this morning). As I fiddled with my car, called my physician mentor, emailed school, and called my parents they finished up and came over to check on me. I then paid a ton of money to have my car towed to a repair shop. The shop was about done for the day so I don’t know what is wrong with my car. I’m hoping it’s nothing serious. My trust cav has come through a lot with me and I’m not ready to giver her up yet.

6. School has been hectic recently. But it should start to get better. As I looked through the next month my schedule is much more free than it has been the past 4 weeks. That is good because this month has been just as bad as first semester. I have been in class essentially 8:30-4:30 every single day. From here on out I primarily get done at 2:30 and even have some days where I’m done at 12:30. Can’t wait.

7. Cold. I hate it. It will be the death of me. In related thoughts, I realized today that every winter for 4 (I think?) winters my weight has been low. This led me to wonder how different winter would be without starvation induced coldness on top of my already somewhat low cold tolerance.

8. There’s probably more, but I have about another 20 minutes of immunology studying and a neuroscience lab video to watch yet tonight.

Study Slump

I’m in a Thursday night motivation slump and am struggling to continue to study for my exam tomorrow. First exam of the semester: Human Organ Systems–covering epithelium, skin, muscle tissue, nervous tissue, connective tissue, and pretty much whatever doesn’t fit in to the “real” organ systems. I think part of my lack of motivation is that I’m still not fully back in to the school routine. I haven’t had an exam yet and the reality of exams every Friday has yet to hit me. The other part is probably related to my brain struggling through the eating disorder fog.

But the stuff we are learning is definitely more interesting.

Ok. Honestly, I can’t even think straight enough to write a coherent blog post right now so the rest will just be random thoughts.

Neuro is cool. At least the playing with brains part. I was enjoyed neuro lab today and was like “ooooh! that’s awesome!” and one of my lab partners responded “it’s neuro, it’s not awesome.” And he was somewhat serious. I thought that was strange because I’m holding a real human brain! how on earth is that not cool?! He then suggested that perhaps I should be a neurologist. I will almost certainly not be a neurologist, but I will continue to think brains are cool.

Wound healing is awesome. Ok, so I did once time in junior high document the phases of a random largish cut I had, so this shouldn’t be all that surprising that I like wound healing. Sadly, with my low weight I struggle to get extremely excited about things, so although normally I would be over the moon about learning how wounds actually heal I’m more like “meh, that’s interesting. I’ve always wondered how that worked.”

Immunology….uhhh I’m somewhat lost there right now. I should probably get unlost before the exam in it next Friday. It’s not that I don’t understand it…ok so I don’t understand some of it. It’s primarily that I don’t have a clue what I should or shouldn’t even be trying to learn.

I was looking forward to learning the neurological exam and then I went to learn it and had a quiz on the musculoskeletal exam right before that and the standardized patient gave me 50% for stupid nit-picky reasons and it ruined my mood for the neurological exam. It did however, make it somewhat more satisfying to gag her and prick her with a pin as part of the neuro exam (don’t worry, I didn’t do it too hard).

I really hope I don’t fail my exam tomorrow. If I did fail tomorrow though, it would make me consider taking time off for more intensive treatment slightly more than I currently am. I think I would probably have longer-lasting success if I could get back up on my own. But most nights I feel so stuck and in such a deep deep hole that I’m not sure it is possible to get out on my own.

A text

A text from a friend regarding recovery from an eating disorder. I saved it because it’s so poignant. And sadly, many days I share the same sentiments.

It’s a losing battle, always. There is not a single person that I have met through all of my treatment that is better, or even doing well. Maybe they were for 2 months, maybe even a year, but everyone ends up sick again, in treatment, over and over again.

We’re a hopeless bunch yet so caught on the hope that we might get better, so we put in the energy and the huge sum of money, and the time. It never seems to truly get anywhere, except maybe a short reprise where we can function for a short time, at least well enough to fool everyone else. But we don’t fool ourselves.

 

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