Monday, July 27, 2009

A Different "Recovery"

This past week has been a bit of a blur, after undergoing spinal fusion surgery exactly one week ago today. Trying to manage pain, adjust to basically not doing anything (for now), and fighting with those perfectionistic/control issues I have about managing my household in a certain way....I'm finally feeling more "normal", whatever that is. I guess you could say I am in recovery..again...but definitely much different from eating disorder recovery!! I had several people ask me before this surgery if I was concerned about how it might affect my ED recovery. I really had none, and still don't.....YAY!! My previous surgery, right about three years ago, directly involved my stomach, so I was NPO (nothing by mouth) for five entire days. I was already struggling a bit with the beginning of a relapse before that surgery, and being unable to eat or drink for five days set me up royally for a total relapse. It was horrible.

But going into this surgery, I knew I would be OK. I know where my mind is, and while I may always be vulnerable, I don't feel fragile at all. So this past week has been painful, but that's expected. I'm now in less pain, moving better, and today I decided to put my contacts in for the first time in a week, and a little make-up. So I know I am feeling better. In terms of eating...the first few days were hard because I had no appetite, and had off/on nausea, perhaps from the pain medication..not sure. But I ate anyway, and I continued to choose foods and drinks that were higher in calories, so I won't fall back. Example...using a Bagel to make a sandwich gives me twice as many calories as using bread or a bun...kind of reverse dieting....:). I always drink whole milk, so I have made sure I am drinking at least two full cups of that per plenty of other juices, etc.

The pain medication that I am taking, as most, causes constipation, so I have had to deal with that. My head (thoughts) are truly fine with it, and I'm surprisingly NOT uncomfortable physically....??? I just keep eating things that I know usually keep me regular, and the recommended stool softener (NEVER laxatives), and I trust that it will all work pun intended!!

So far, this experience has been one more affirmation to me that my dedication is grounded for continued recovery. The "critters" that have so often stayed in the background, waiting to pounce on me during my weaker moments, are no longer there!!

I'm looking forward to many exciting opportunities in the next couple of months, and I'm beginning to believe that I will feel GREAT and be able to participate and enjoy them 100%!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Weekend In Recovery

So, what is it like to be free from and recovered from a chronic eating disorder? My life is far too different to relate everything, but I'd like to share a bit about this past weekend. I drove down to my hometown, 325 miles away, for a GNO (Girl's Night Out) on Friday, and then I stayed until Monday morning to celebrate my Mother's birthday and visit with my family. Would I have been excited to see classmates from 35 years ago if I still had anorexia? No. I would have been embarrassed, too tired to be up after 8:30 pm, and just not interested in trying to talk to people when my brain was fried from starvation.
But I was very excited to be going!! I saw many friends from HS, plus people from my community who I think may have thought I had died. I ordered dinner without a second thought. I walked up to people and talked to them whether I was sure they knew me or not. I danced like a schoolgirl and sweat like a football player, and I had the time of my life!! The ONLY drawback was that my sweetie was back home taking care of his Mom. That's the way we have to do it right now. I wore myself out, but left with some new happy memories.
My relationship with my Mom is better than it's ever been. I'm not afraid to say what I think, even if I know she doesn't agree with me. It's OK for me to be be ME....and I've found that my family actually shows me respect for standing up for I miss my Dad. Memories of him are everywhere. I cry and move on, and focus on what a respectful, loyal man he was. That doesn't mean I always agreed with him.
I visited the cemetary where my son is buried. The Azalea I planted in April is thriving. I talked to him. I cried. I told him I love him, and I left with a picture in my head of he and my Father laughing and riding the tractor (John Deere of course!).
My siblings and I got together and celebrated my Mom's birthday...a bit early. I eat what I want....really eat....and I enjoy my brothers and sister for who they are, not for how I measure up to them. I wasn't waiting for them to leave, as has always been the case in the past. I picked green beans in the garden. I went to my brother's house that night to celebrate his wife's son's 30th birthday. But the real reason I went was to see the 7 month old twins and the 6-week old baby boy of my niece and her husband. Babies are popping out all over down there....:)
Rested more on Sunday....ate fried chicken for the third time in a row...who cares? But by Sunday night, I knew once again that I would never be able to live there again. I would smother to death. Too many memories and reminders of being sick. By the time I loaded up and started back home on Monday, I couldn't wait to get home.
I didn't count calories or meal plan while I was gone. My body is beginning to know how to care for itself. My weight has been stable for many months. I praise God that I can trust my body and mind to allow me to be healthy. But I'm not naive. I will always keep meal planning in my life to keep me stabilized. I've been through Hell, and I don't want to go back there again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

From Anorexia To Bulimia-Why Does This Happen?

As I've recently been in contact with many people, dealing with many various aspects of an eating disorder, I've come to realize just how common it is for someone with anorexia to eventually evolve into bulimic behaviors. I've known this on a cognitive level, but never so much on a personal basis, such as hearing from many people, especially women, who are experiencing this. What I am hearing is a great amount of shame, especially for those who have been in treatment for anorexia and thought they had defeated their eating disorder. This is irrational, yet very understandable, given the attitude that society has towards eating disorders in general.

Statistically, approximately 50% of anorexics will develop some sort of bulimic behavior during their illness. For someone who has been weight restored, and on the path to recovery, a "relapse" into bulimic behavior can be devastating. They feel an even greater loss of control with their eating, and a desperate fear of weight gain. This can cause depression, hopelessness, and other impulsive behaviors in an attempt to numb out their fears once again. All of these things are what I hear being expressed.

The reasons for this transition from anorexia (restricting) to bulimia can be due to a couple of very logical explanations.
1) If a person is not weight restored to a point where they are no longer biologically challenged, the likelihood is greater that they will not be able to continue to suppress their intake or weight, which will eventually result in impulsive binging (and possibly purging) behaviors. This begins only one more vicious cycle that commonly causes shame and isolation.
2) Sometimes a person who has had chronic anorexia for many years, and has tried several different treatments that have "failed" (in their eyes), their body may simply not be able to continue the extreme starvation. Biology takes over, and because this person hasn't established a healthy, consistent eating routine, binging may be out of control.

A person who is in this situation often expresses hopelessness, apathy, and just simply giving up on ever being free from their disorder. If the disorder is not treated, the medical and psychological consequences of these behaviors will only increase in severity, or in some cases, a person will just give up, believing that there is no hope for them.

There is ALWAYS hope, as long as there is life!! Anyone who has suffered with an eating disorder is very strong in character, whether they realize it or not. The key is to use that strength in a positive way to fight with all they have for the freedom they deserve!!