Looking Back

It’s been a long time since I last wrote. Lots of things have been on my mind this week.

One is all that went on at this time last year. Being unexpectedly hospitalized and subsequently taking a medical leave from school to enter treatment at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver. While I certainly wasn’t “fixed” during my time there, I do believe I made more progress (and more lasting progress) than in any previous treatment. Things are certainly not perfect. Far from it. My weight is lower than my treatment team would like it, I still engage in eating disordered behaviors on a fairly regular basis, I still struggle with being able to not exercise and be okay with it. But things are not nearly as bad as they have been in the past and I have more motivation to continue to fight this than before.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Zephyr recently. Today would have been his sixth birthday. Not only does that bring back some tough memories, we also recently (as in this week) got another puppy. An Aussie puppy. I thought I was ready for another Aussie because I was beyond the stage where I still thought I could replace Zef. But I was not prepared for the fear that came with having another pup so similar to him. Whether he truly is similar or not is probably debatable because I view everything he does through a lens clouded by fear that Zero will turn out to be like Zef. I see his playing with Ziva as aggression and dominance against dogs instead of typical play. I see his struggles with being restrained as aggression against people instead of normal puppy behavior. While we are working extremely hard with him so that none of this does happen I probably should relax a little more. And I am scared because I don’t totally love him yet. I think my experience with Zef has made me more reserved in my dog love. I poured my whole heart and soul in to that dog. I felt so connected to him and he was my sole companion for many years of living alone. And the pain that came with putting down my best friend in the entire world was heart breaking. I don’t think my heart will ever recover from that. I didn’t love Ziva when we first got her, but I love her to death now. So I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I don’t totally love Zero yet; with time he will almost certainly grow on me as well.

I have more to write about, but enough for tonight.

I’m here

How has it been so long since my last post? I started on at the end of July, but never finished it. But where to begin….

When I last posted I had just (like that day) put down my dog. Since then (like the day after) I wound up with another dog. Far sooner than M & I had intended, but as a veterinarian my mother has connections and hooked us up with a pretty cute sheltie puppy for a pretty good price. And that’s how we ended up with Ziva.


Ziva at 4 months old



She’s a doll, she’s crazy, she’s sweet, she’s beautiful and she still isn’t fully potty trained (grumble grumble).


Ziva at 9 months old


After a few months off I have returned to school part-time. I started last week with only ~2 hours/day. It’s all pretty much review for now. Actually in the entire 8 week class a solid 4 weeks is review of stuff I was still around for and passed exams on last year. So it seems a little pointless and somewhat boring, but I’ll probably be eating my words when January/February roll around. And hey, maybe I’ll honor this class.

Things are good with M. I’m hanging in there on the eating disorder front. Still seeing my therapist, not seeing my dietitian (not helpful, expensive, and was never a really good fit anyway), still seeing my psychiatrist (and still trying to figure out how I can ditch her because we are really really not a good fit).

I’m sure there’s a lot more to write, but a little bit is a lot better than nothing!


This is why people believe in God. I want so badly to believe that there’s something on the other side of this life. That I’ll get another chance to see him loping towards me with a tennis ball in his mouth. Another chance to be the owner he really deserved. A chance to get answers about all of it.

My heart is broken right now. It feels like someone reached into my chest, grabbed a piece and won’t give it back. It went exactly as I’d imagined. I threw him some tennis balls and his frisbee for a few minutes when we got to the farm. My mom anesthetized him first. The anesthesia she used typically causes hallucinations and often they look terrifying but even Zef’s hallucinations were happy. First he rolled around on the floor like he was doing the happy dance he did when I gave him a bone, then he lay on his side and was running somewhere. For the actual euthanasia I cradled his head on the table and held his leg so my mom could find the vein like I had done for so many dogs so many times before. He took his last breath in my arms. That was the only time I was silent and without tears. And then I broke down again. And so did M. I don’t think he expected it to be as hard as it was.

I cried all day. I cried all evening. I woke up now in the middle of the night crying again. I’m sitting in the living room because M finally fell asleep and I don’t want to wake him up with my sobs. But even this feels wrong. Zef is supposed to come out from under the bed, give me that What-the-hell-are-you-doing-up-at-this-time-of-night look, and flop on the living room floor to sleep near me.

He showed me how to truly love every moment of life. He was my buddy when I lived in lonely apartments by myself. When I was depressed he would drop a tennis ball in my lap and give me that goofy grin of his and I would be motivated to finally move. He did so much for me and I just gave up on him.


I’ve been home for a week now and have hit every emotion from ecstasy to despair in that week.

I was so excited to be coming home and yet sad to be leaving everyone in Denver behind. And then so happy to be back in Iowa and see everyone there. Being home was more challenging than I expected. Life here isn’t structured and regimented like it was in treatment. I’m responsible for choosing and making my own meals. Our lives are hectic and chaotic and dinner might happen at 6 pm one day and 9:30 pm the next and who knows when lunch might be, if it happens at all.

And then today I made the hardest decision of my entire life. Zephyr (my dog) is the love of my life. I have loved him more than I ever thought possible to love any living thing. Up to about the age of 3 1/2 or 4 he was happy and loved all people and all dogs even if he was a spastic ball of energy. But then his personality started changing. He started becoming more aggressive to other dogs. I took him to classes and then had a trainer come work with us 1:1 at home, but it didn’t seem to help and his behavior has only gotten worse. He still goes up to people wanting to be petted and then will turn and out of the blue try to bite them. 6 months ago he bit M’s little sister. At that time I had my mom do a full medical evaluation and we started him on Prozac for aggression. She couldn’t find any medical issues. The only possible explanation is that about the time his personality changed I witnessed his first (rather long) seizure and he had another fairly long one again this spring. But his behavior has continued to get worse. He has bitten/tried to bite several friends who came to the house. He’s become a liability, I’m out of ideas for what to do for him, I’m afraid to walk him because I worry some person (or kid) will come up and try to pet him, and I don’t know that it’s much of a life not being able to be petted. So I decided to have him euthanized.

I’m so sad I can barely function right now. I feel terrible. He’s in the prime of his life and still seemingly healthy and I feel like a terrible person doing this. I feel so guilty. I feel like I failed him in some way. And I feel like I don’t deserve to own another dog.

Last week I felt like I had really hit a turning point in this whole recovery thing. I was feeling great and things were getting easier and life was amazing. This week has been almost the exact opposite. I have had so many eating disorder thoughts and urges. I had an all-day pass on Sunday during which I missed some exchanges and had more exercise than my team had wanted me to. Coming back I was honest with my team about it (a new thing for me compared to previous treatments). When my psychiatrist even grazed the idea of pushing back my discharge date because of my struggles Sunday I made a goal of getting through the next 2 weeks with no behaviors. Easier said than done. Especially as the eating disorder thoughts are coming back with a vengeance (extinction burst?).

Today we had a lunch outing to a pizza/pasta restaurant plus we had challenge snack in the afternoon. At the beginning of community meeting I was thinking that there was no way I could keep pushing through this until my discharge date. Community is a twice weekly meeting where everyone in my treatment group (18 patients) plus all the staff (milieu coordinators, therapists, dietitians) get together and discuss things. The primary activity is where we go around the room and all the patients have to say (1) something they are accountable for, e.g. an eating disorder behavior, restriction, exercise; (2) a committed action for how they will do things differently to change that behavior; (3) gratitude for someone; and (4) a success. This was the first community meeting in a while where I was able to say that I had no accountabilities. Saying it aloud to a room full of people along with my success that I did it despite raging eating disorder thoughts/urges made me realize that even though this week has been really hard, I have been doing it. I have been succeeding. And that has made the rest of the day easier. I don’t know that it will last through tomorrow but after being disheartened by my difficult week it has given me hope.

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…