My daughter has an eating disorder, the kind that convinces you that you’re nothing and you shrivel up into a frail bony shadow. We first noticed this when she came home one day from managing the high school Lacrosse team. She was clearly dehydrated and looked terrible with bags underneath her eyes. She told me she didn’t eat or drink all day long. Ironic because she was in charge of feeding and hydrating all the players on the team! Weak and exhausted we fed and hydrated her and put her to bed. She wasn’t back to normal until 2 days later. That was in February.
By March we knew something was wrong so we talked with a counselor at the high school who recommended we see her doctor. He put her on a depression med. We saw an upswing in her eating and mood for about 3 weeks and things started to spiral downward once again. He also referred her to a G.I. doctor but the appointment we received was for September so we just had to wait it out. This is a constant struggle with Medicaid, long waiting lists to see a specialist. From there I started my research online and making phone calls to see what the next step would be when got there.
Next step was to visit an eating disorder clinic in a well-known University for an assessment, but, bad news… You have to wait 2-3 months to get an appointment! We survived and encouraged our daughter to eat and drink. Assessment day finally arrived. We answered many questions and left emotionally tired and were told we’d hear something within a week.
We were then referred to an intensive outpatient clinic about 30 minutes away from our home. She would see a therapist, dietitian and eating disorder physician all together. This took about 3 hours each time we went. We were told to MAKE her eat. We choose her food and make her eat it. We also had to supervise her in the bathroom for 45 minutes after her meals. We had to write down everything she ate and keep a detailed log of her nutrition.
She is trying. Her anxiety is so large that she vomits at the table half way through a meal. She cries and says she is trying to eat and get better and now her body won’t allow her to do so. We keep meeting with the clinic weekly. No physical progress is being made because her body won’t digest food. It’s gone without for months. Constant diarrhea and vomiting that seems to come from anxiety.
In July I press the clinic to take the next step. Everything I’m reading says the earlier you intervene the better off the patient is long term in life. They make the referral and now my daughter is hospitalized. She has been there a week. The intake process was emotionally exhausting for 3 hours. Days later, crying phone calls begging me to come and get her. I had to explain coming to get her means she DIES. The lining of her heart is already damaged and thinned from malnutrition.
BAD NEWS… Her insurance won’t cover her for any residential facility here in NC. We have to take her all the way to a hospital near Richmond, VA. Cumberland Hospital for Children. I HATE MEDICAID! This child has been through so much in her life and now she has to go so far away! I could write a book about how Medicaid creates difficulties for my foster and adopted teens. They go through enough and having to navigate the system takes a lot of time and stress to get my kids what they need.
This is Journal 1, the first part of a series of 6 entries that will be posted daily for 1 week.