Monday, October 8, 2012

Post-Parent Weekend

My mom and dad were in town this past weekend and I was so happy to have them here. The last time my mom was in town, I spent the day freaking out and crying and generally being a big fat baby, so this visit was a nice change. My dad actually hasn't been to College City since dropping me off at the beginning of my freshman year when I was still totally lost and intimidated. It was kind of fun to show him around campus and the city, bring him to a famous restaurant, etc. I'm probably more of a mama's girl at heart, but I do love my daddy a whole lot and he definitely spoils me rotten.

Meals were okay. Snacks, not so much, but I think I made up for the calories by having bigger meals. I asked my mom one day if she thought I'd gained too much weight, and she sighed and said no, of course not, you don't look like you've gained anything at all. So, I guess that was nice to hear. I GUESS.

We ate out for lunch and dinner on both Saturday and Sunday, and I didn't restrict or freak out or anything. I'm feeling motivated again—remember the wonderful doctor I mentioned? Well, the part I forgot to tell you guys is that he was much more optimistic than anyone else I've seen. Basically, he thinks that all my body failures are totally related to being underweight, and that things should definitely improve with better nutrition = weight gain = stronger immune system, tissues, muscles = less body failure = MUCH HAPPIER KAYLEE. I was so freaking happy to hear that, I wanted to give Dr. P a big hug. This was a huge boost, especially after my last doctor told me that my pain is probably permanent and can only be managed with meds. But Dr. P went over my whole history and was way more optimistic. He kept telling me that I'm "doing great" and stuff, and I really really really needed to hear that. Next step: he referred me to a specialized physical therapist, so stay tuned.

Anyway, that gave me a big motivation boost going into the weekend, and beyond. It's really exhausting to have this invisible pain, the constant nagging reminder that I abused my body for so long and it just couldn't take any more, but all I need to know is that it will get better. I can't be skinny and healthy, I can't restrict and be healthy. I just can't. And that's okay with me.

Another fun tidbit of the weekend: my mom discovered that she somehow accidentally created a Facebook account in 2009 and has no idea how it happened. Oh, Mom. If you happen to see her approaching, lock up your technology. Bad things happen when she gets too close.


  1. Dear Kaylee,

    I've been reading (and enjoying) your blog for quite a while now. I'm not much of a commenter but I wanted to reiterate the hope your new doctor has given you. Although I don't know your specific health problems, I'm going to tell you my story just in case it seems like it may be applicable to your situation.

    I was anorexic for seven years and then for the past ten years, I existed in a pseudo recovered state. My BMI was in a supposedly "healthy" range (about 20) but I still had many disordered behaviors. I went through periods of obsessive exercising (nothing extreme, but it was obsessive and more than my body wanted), had lots of fear foods (which limited the variety in my diet) and "saved" my calories for the evening (which meant that I ate next to nothing during the day). About five years ago, I suddenly became very ill. I had intermittent sharp pains in my abdominal area that radiated around and up my back and brought me to tears, periodic fevers, weird muscle cramping, bone-crushing fatigue, severe night sweats, and myalgias. An endoscopy revealed sores throughout my esophagus that the GI doc thought looked like herpes, as opposed to ulcers (tests were inconclusive). Blood tests revealed chronically high inflammatory markers. Over the next four years, I spent thousands and thousands of dollars trying to work out what was wrong with me. The specialists all concluded that I had some type of autoimmune disease, but they couldn't come up with a firm diagnosis. I became resigned to a life of being at the mercy of my flare-ups of fatigue and pain and fell into a pretty severe depression.

    I can't remember exactly what led me to stumble across Gwyneth Olwyn's restrictive eating disorder recovery website (, but it was about a year ago. Actually I do remember why - I had been trying to get pregnant for over 18 months without success and a google search led me to Gwyneth's blog post on eating disorders and fertility. I spent days devouring all the information she has gathered (and reading the discussion boards) and came to the conclusion that, if I ever wanted to be truly recovered and free of my eating disorder, I needed to (1) eat throughout the day, (2) increase my calories, (3) eliminate the concept of "good" and "bad" foods, (4) stop exercising, and (5) stop weighing myself. At the time, the thought that doing these things might help my putative autoimmune problems never entered my mind - I was more focused on freeing myself of my remaining eating disordered behaviors so that I could enjoy life in-between flare-ups (and potentially improve my fertility). I started taking the above steps when I was feeling well, and now, almost 12 months later, I still haven't had a single flare-up. I suppose that it's possible I will have one in the future, but in the past five years, I'd never gone more than 3 months without becoming sick.

    ...and there are so many other wonderful things that have happened :-) The biggest is that I'm ten weeks pregnant ...but also that my extreme hunger (that I've battled for the last 15+ years) is gone, the anxiety around food is gone (I actually enjoy going to restaurants, I don't worry about food situations at work or parties), my relationship with my husband has improved, etc., etc..

    I really agree with your doctor that there's a very good chance your body has been below its set point for so long that it's finally starting to stop cooperating with you. I love your line "I can't be skinny and healthy, I can't restrict and be healthy. I just can't. And that's okay with me." I hope you're able to put all the discipline and energy that has gone into your eating disorder into recovery. I'll be quietly cheering you along.

    Best wishes,


    1. Wow Elizabeth, thank you for writing. Your story is so inspiring. I'm really sorry that you had to go through all that as it must have been incredibly scary and frustrating. It has been really hard for me to swallow the fact that even though I'm doing well with food and gaining weight, my body is still suffering the effects of being underweight long term. I am SO happy to hear that you are doing better, and I will definitely check out that website. Really glad it has been so successful for you! And a HUGE congrats to you and your husband on the pregnancy, that is fantastic news!

    2. Thanks so much for your response! I can definitely relate to being frustrated that doing well with food and gaining weight doesn't translate very quickly into physical and mental improvements. Given that I had been at a medically "healthy" BMI for about a decade, the thought that perhaps I was underweight in relation to my set point never entered my mind (especially since I was always a very skinny kid) ...but now that I've increased my BMI from 20 to 23, all of my symptoms have disappeared. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that you'll have a similar experience to me.

    3. PS In reading through my initial comment, I realize that I perhaps made it seem like recovery is a snap as soon as you are properly motivated. This wasn't my intention at all. My recovery was complicated and very much a two steps forward, one step (or more!) back kind of thing ...but since my comment was already obnoxiously long, I didn't want to go into how hard getting myself to take those steps was :-)

    4. I totally agree with MMD-- it's not as though my recovery was at all a snap once I actually started eating enough/weighing enough, but it got SO MUCH more rewarding once I was actually consistently & stably well fed. I crave so many diverse foods, I can go eat sushi at a restaurant by myself because I've had a crazy day and want a quiet wonderful meal, I can appreciate really good food in a way I couldn't before-- it's not stressful to go out and celebrate special occasions, the menu reading I do beforehand is to find the place with the most delish drinks/foods, not the place that lists the calories, etc.

      I also got a boost in bone density. Still iffy as to whether it's enough to keep me off of bone boosting drugs, but I'm not walking around breaking bones just by stepping off the curb wrong anymore.

      Recovery is soooo worth it, but you might have go further out of your comfort zone than expected to find it.

    5. So glad to hear that your bone density has improved! That was one thing that REALLY scared me when I was first diagnosed, as everyone kept saying that once bone is lost, you can't get it back, and that bone only grows through adolescence and then you're done. thanks so much for the encouragement and I am THRILLED to hear how well you're doing.

  2. I'm so thrilled that you had a great weekend with your parents! And I'm really proud of you for doing so well with food and eating out. Congrats! I know how hard you've worked on that, and it seems to be paying off! It sounds like that made the visit with them much less stressful, and just more enjoyable for you. That's really really awesome :)

    I'm so happy for you also that Dr. P is so optimistic about your overall health! It's great that it was a double-win, with more confidence about your body returning to a healthier, less painful state, and also that it boosted your motivation. I hope things with the physical therapist go similarly well!

    1. thanks Alie! Eating out has actually gotten WAY easier the more I've done it, which I refuse to admit to my D because she kept telling me that over and over and I kept telling her she was crazy and that restaurants just suck. Oops!