Even the word scares me. The thought that I might need dialysis in the future scares me even more. But the functioning level of my kidneys has significantly declined in the past few months. My blatant mistreatment of my body through anorexia and laxative abuse has taken its toll.
The first hint something might going wrong came up several months ago. I was badly relapsing and using multiple dosages of different kinds of laxatives to purge myself of even minute quantities of food. I craved emptiness and felt so clean after all food was cleared from my body. (Or so I thought. I've since learned it does not work that way and some of the food stays in your body. That was very clever of God to design our bodies to work that way, and it probably has saved me from worse problems.)
That was in February. I was hospitalized for a week with a NG feeding tube and this should have been my wake-up call. I thought I had hit rock bottom with my eating disorder, but I soon learned I was wrong.
Tests results showed minor problems with my kidneys just before I left for the PHP at River Centre Clinic. My doctor thought the problem would correct itself once I was eating properly again. No worries. The rest of my tests were fine and I was medically cleared to go to RCC.
I am tested weekly for all sorts of things via my blood and urine. I resumed both treatment with Dr. Sackeyfio and his tests after I left PHP. (I didn't receive any physical tests, except blood pressure and temperature checks, while at RCC.)
Then two weeks ago I went to see Dr. Sackeyfio. He pulled out the test results the minute I walked in — NOT a good sign — and told me my kidneys' functioning had "significantly declined" since the last tests two months prior. It really is a puzzle. RCC had me eating almost 3,000 calories daily for weight restoration and I have not once used laxatives in almost three months.
The bad news got worse this week. The damage is starting to show in my blood as my potassium levels have dropped. Low potassium levels can put me at risk of cardiac arrest, a leading cause of death amongst anorexics.
What's going on?
Damage from anorexia and laxative abuse. Damage that might not be reversible through conventional means, i.e. eating healthy. Damage which I feel I caused.
I am scared. Right now we are going to see if eating properly will reverse it. But ... I looked at Dr. Sackeyfio on Friday and asked if I could need dialysis in the future. He said yes.
Then there is food ... I have struggled with eating since leaving RCC. Eat well. Eat but not too much. Eat but avoid fattening foods. Eat but restrict a little. Eat but restrict a lot. Eat as little as possible.
Lose weight. Gain weight. Stay at the same weight. Fat. Not fat. Fat stomach and thighs. Not really hearing people when they say I am still too thin. Not seeing it myself. Nope. Nothing wrong with me. I'm just fine.
Looking at my gaunt face in the mirror. Feeling some days as if I have no future. Then becoming angry and declaring that anorexia WILL NOT WIN. Not this time. Then I plot how to eat less food each day ... Back and forth it goes.
My mind continues to swirl and I wonder why this doesn't shock me out of my complacency. I mean, dialysis for God's sake! Even the fact that it is just a possibility frightens me. And yet ... This should be rock bottom for me. What am I waiting for? Dialysis to fail and then need a transplant? Being rejected for a transplant? What then?
I feel as if I have squandered my future. I have so many dreams, and anorexia seems bent on killing them one way or another.
I try to tell myself that anorexia is an illness and I did not chose to have it. Something in my brain snapped about four years ago. I keep waiting for it to snap back, for something to click back into place and finally, finally give me the strength to let go of this and LIVE.
Many mornings, I wake up just as dawn is rising. I see the hint of the still blue-black sky and hear the small noises of birds readying for the morning. I look over at my husband, sleeping peacefully. I think about how much he loves me and how much he has believed in me through the past fourteen years.
I think about the friends and family who love and support me and the times we have spent together and the things we have shared. I think about graduate school and everything I have discovered there, from a love of children's literature to the pride I feel by finally understanding just a little about literary theory and criticism.
Sometimes I remember my days as a journalist. I remember when I flew in a hot air balloon and felt as if I could touch the clouds, that I could just leave the balloon and fly all alone. I remember the dips and shakes as I rode in a four-seater airplane, feeling scared and excited at the same time on that cold winter day. I remember the grief on the faces of family members who laid to rest a young soldier who lost his life in this inexplicable war in Iraq.
During these brief moments, my heart often races and I wonder if this time it will happen ... I lie still and try to calm my mind, but often my last thought before going back to sleep is that real life is behind me. I feel as if I am lost, lost in a demented fairy tale in which there is no cure from the evil witch's curse and I will forever be under her spell.
I wonder if I ever really appreciate how full and wonderful my life was before anorexia? Did I ever have even a hint of what was to come? Did I ever stop to think of the beauty in the ordinary? Did I know what was coming in the recesses in my mind? Or was I oblivious to the fact that the life I was living was soon going to fly off its tracks?
Did I ever tell the people in my life what they meant to me, what they still mean to me to this day? Do the people in my life really know how much I love them and that the thought of maybe not seeing their faces someday ... Why did it take anorexia to realize how important love and friendship and everyday, ordinary life is?
Each night, I lean against the back of my husband as I struggle to sleep. He already is sleeping; the peaceful look on his face makes me happy. I think of the future, in which anorexia is just a bad dream and recovery is so strong nothing can break it. The darkness begins to falls and I struggle not to let it ensnare me. I drift off thinking about possibilities ...
Then dialysis floats in my mind. But I try to let it go for the night, and bring myself back to the present. Now is now. I have no control over the past nor the future.
I tell myself I can still turn this around. That it isn't too late. I can return to health and life. That I have a future. I lean further into David's warmth, wrap my fingers through his thick wavy hair and then drift off.
(Postscript - Today I received word my mammogram showed "several abnormalities" in the right breast. I go see the radiologist tomorrow (July 13). I feel as if God is trying to teach me something ... Hopefully I will hear Him and follow His will.)