Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu
Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC
During my high school years, one of my friends challenged me to a contest to get a six pack of abs. As silly as it sounds, this sparked my research online as to what it took for a female to achieve a six pack of abs. What I read indicated that women would need to be at a very low body fat percentage and to limit carbohydrates, so that's what I began to do.
At this point, I did not count calories - I simply began to cut carbohydrates from my diet, with the exception of fruit. The six pack challenge with my friend came and went (neither of us really achieving a six pack either), yet I was now on an unhealthy path. My weight began to drop. My parents and I both noticed it and noticed the need for me to make an effort to gain weight. This is when I began to count calories. It's ironic that I began to count calories to gain weight but this led me to an obsessive, unhealthy relationship with food and tracking my intake. When my weight continued to drop, I felt a sickening pride. I knew it was twisted, I knew it was wrong but I couldn't help it. I was warring with my own mind. I knew that it was not good for me to be losing weight but it pleased my eating disorder very much.
Finally, my weight got so low that my parents were telling me to seek treatment. We approached several different facilities. Due to liability reasons, no facility would accept me for an outpatient program and we had complications with insurance and finding an open bed for an inpatient program.
In July of 2014, I was admitted to the hospital for extreme iron deficiency and treated with three rounds of iron infusions. The medical staff no longer had any "reason" to keep me there so I was discharged, still with no treatment options available to me.
Soon thereafter, insurance approved a residential program about an hour from my home. This was an experience I will not soon forget. It was not completely enjoyable and I felt very humbled being required to count while I used the bathroom. However, I do believe that treatment was good for me. They helped me to restore my weight relatively quickly and safely. At this point, I wanted to recover. I had already begun to gain weight on my own and even believed that I could do it on my own, but treatment was a safer option. It saddened me so deeply, though, to see the other patients who were not committed to recovering, still enslaved to their eating disorder and blinded to the fact that they were killing themselves.
I left the program AMA because insurance was not going to cover it any longer, I had been weight restored and I felt that I was ready to move on with my life. I maintained my weight for a while but as calories dropped (I had been consuming about 4000 calories in treatment - not sustainable) and activity increased just due to my active lifestyle, my weight began to drop again.
Around the time when I began to see a need to make a conscientious effort to gain weight again, I experienced a traumatic injury. I was attending a concert and a stage diver landed right on my head. I was on the ground. Everything was a blur. I felt as though I was being trampled but I was unsure. Finally, someone slung me over their shoulder and got me out of the crowd. The security thought I had simply passed out. I couldn't talk, couldn't move, couldn't feel. When they realized it was something more than just passing out, they called an ambulance and laid me in the dirt outside the venue.
When the ambulance came, one of the EMT workers assured me that I was just stunned and I would be surfing the next week as I had planned. Some part of me believed him. When I arrived at the hospital, I was taken immediately to the trauma center. So many things were happening, needles, tests, and scans. At one point, the nurse tried to give me morphine and then I went unconscious and she was afraid that she had killed me.
I believe it was the next day (it's quite hazy) I underwent a neck surgery where they put a metal cage in my neck. I had suffered a broken neck and a spinal cord injury (Central Cord Syndrome) that affected primarily my upper body. The doctors could not say if I would walk or walk normally ever again.
It was a very slow process and again, I was humbled as I relearned the simplest of tasks such as walking and writing. My hands were probably the most affected and I still do not have full feeling in them to this day. It was not easy and I spent many nights in tears wondering how I could ever live a normal life when I couldn't even use the bathroom on my own.
I spent about a month total in the hospital and the hospital's physical therapy unit before being discharged. I did not feel ready. I had made a lot of progress but still couldn't dress myself and to make matters worse, I had lost even more weight during my hospital stay. I began to do outpatient therapy and I followed my therapy exercise program religiously. Every day, I went through my exercises and my mother and I would go on a mile long walk. My mother and my faith in God helped me through this time so much. I cannot fully express my gratitude.
As I was recovering from my spinal cord injury, I also struggled mentally with my eating. The physical therapist recommended 3000 calories to facilitate healing and recovery. As I was in a neck brace, and very limited as to my physical activity, this was very hard for me. I managed to get up to 2500 calories and to restore my weight.
I continued to make progress and now I appear almost normal to the unknowing spectator. My gait is still not quite normal but I run and hike again. My hands still don't have feeling but I can dress myself and even type (which is vital to my job!). I am so grateful.
After the spinal cord injury, all my muscles had completely atrophied. I could not even lift a dinner plate. A lot of this was helped by my physical therapy exercises but this led me to the desire to become strong. I began resistance training after my neck brace came off and in January of this year, I joined Gold's Gym. I love the feeling of getting stronger both mentally and physically.
Sometimes, the destination of a journey is not in sight, but that's okay. I believe it's important to enjoy the journey. I will continue to change. I will grow mentally and physically. I will persevere.
|2013- Pre Eating Disorder Treatment|
|2014 - Post ED Treatment|
|2015 - Post ED Treatment|
|2015 - Post Spinal Cord Injury|
|Left - After getting out of neck brace (2016) Right - Current, resistance training, 2017|