Back in February, my younger brother asked me “What weight would you not want to see on the scale?” I told him if I ever saw anything in the 80’s it would be unacceptable. I would never allow that to happen. Sadly, I wasn’t too far off, but I wouldn’t want to go below 90.
On March 18th, when I went to NYGH to speak to them about their program, their first order of business was to weigh me. I had taken laxatives the night before so I knew I would be at a low weight.
88.6 lbs. Yes, 88.6lbs. I couldn’t believe it. I went below 90. That was the number I said I didn’t want to see on a scale. But, instead of feeling anger I felt accomplished. In a sick and twisted way, that is essentially what this whole disease is about. Having a goal, perfecting the goal and reaching the goal.
The horrified look on the nurse’s face did resonate with me. What was I doing? My BMI should be 20, it was at 14.7. I should weigh 135lbs. I weighed 119lbs in February of 2014 at my physical and to be honest, I don’t remember hating that number. My doctor said that although she would like to see me at 125, with my history she was satisfied. So what in gds name happened between February 2014 and now? I am playing Russian roulette with my own life. If I continue to play, I will not win.
I googled low BMI and this is what I found:
A BMI of 15 is very unhealthy, people usually get treatment at a hospital when their BMI falls below 15, and a BMI like that is considered life threatening. Even if you’re not hungry, you have to eat to gain weight when your weight has gone that low. Here are some of the effects:
* Stunted growth
* Endocrine disorder, leading to cessation of periods in girls (amenorrhoea)
* Decreased libido; impotence in males
* Starvation symptoms, such as reduced metabolism, slow heart rate (bradycardia), hypertension, hypothermia and anemia
* Abnormalities of mineral and electrolyte levels in the body
* Thinning of the hair (makes your hair look weird and ugly)
* Growth of lanugo hair over the body
* Constantly feeling “cold”
* Zinc deficiency
* Reduction in white blood cell count
* Reduced immune system function (increases chance of getting several diseases, usually harmless diseases like flue may put your health at risk)
* Pallid complexion and sunken eyes
* Creaking joints and bones
* Collection of fluid in ankles during the day and around eyes during the night
* Tooth decay
* Dry skin
* Dry or chapped lips
* Poor circulation, resulting in common attacks of ‘pins and needles’ and purple extremities
* In cases of extreme weight loss, there can be nerve deterioration, leading to difficulty in moving the feet
* Brittle fingernails
* Bruising easily
* Distorted body image
* Poor insight
* Self-evaluation largely, or even exclusively, in terms of their shape and weight
* Pre-occupation or obsessive thoughts about food and weight
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Belief that control over food/body is synonymous with being in control of one’s life
* Refusal to accept that one’s weight is dangerously low even when it could be deadly
* Refusal to accept that one’s weight is normal, or healthy
* Low self-esteem
* Intense fear about becoming overweight
* Clinical depression or chronically low mood
* Mood swings
Other causes are loss of menstruation, risk of becoming sterile, stomach pain, delayed/abnormal puberty and wounds will also heal slower, and easier get infected, due to a weak immune system.
All of this, from not eating properly and taking laxatives. All of this from me torturing my own body. All of this can stop. I can fix this and make it go away.
When NYGH told me that I was too sick to be in their program, I thought they were crazy. How do you turn someone away that is asking for help? But they were right. Three days a week from 3pm-8pm would not give me the tools and knowledge to fight this battle and recover from my eating disorder. When I was referred to TGH as a patient in their five day a week program, I accepted the fact that it was time to make this my full time job.
And that is exactly what it has become. I refuse to be like the woman I met at TGH who is 56 years old, has been a patient in their outpatient, inpatient and several other programs. She said “my life is passing me by and I’m going to be sad that I’ve missed it.” That cannot be me. I have so much to live for.
I can no longer allow ED to play games with my body and my mind. I will take control once again.
During one of my many doctors visits to the various programs and appointments, someone said to me “Don’t you want your old life back?” My answer – No. I want a new one. My life has been so consumed with ED that it is time to create a new life.