F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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PeppermintPiper
Hi - first post here. I’m new and just need to “talk.”

There I was, going along, and BOOM! Within two weeks I find out my mom has breast cancer and my daughter (14) almost certainly has bulimia.

We knew she was vomiting fairly regularly, but at the doctor yesterday she admitted it’s happening every day. EVERY DAY. I know from reading several posts that every day is not unusual or shocking (anymore) for most of you, but this is very shocking to this previously-in-denial mama. This has been going on for at least eight months, probably longer. We’ve been referred to the adolescent medicine clinic at our local children’s hospital, but there will probably be a wait of at least a few months. 

Re: my mom, thankfully they think it’s stage 1 at this point, but I guess they won’t know for sure until her lumpectomy which is scheduled for Nov. 11. 

I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next few weeks/months. 

I’m obviously worried about how the next few months will go for both of them, and I’m sure I’ll be asking for ED info and support, but the reason I’m here today is because I need an outlet so I don’t lose my mind. In 2008 I lost my first husband to suicide, and an online forum was a major help in getting me through it. 

Thank you to the forum and moderators for for being here, and thanks to the members too.
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ValentinaGermania
Hi and a very warm welcome from Germany and so sorry you need to be here.
I can only send a virtual hug at the moment. Your titel of the thread is great. Yes, that is how it feels at the start.
To point out the positives, now both are in treatment and now it can get better. It will take months but not all problems will hit you at the same time and day so you can try to just get through it day by day and week by week.

How can we help you? Besides being here and listen and send good vibes and power packs?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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PeppermintPiper
Thank you, Tina. Virtual hugs, vibes, prayers and responses are very helpful!

I found out the wait for evaluation isn't as long as I'd thought, more like a few weeks. D's bloodword came back, mostly pretty good overall they said, but there are some smaller-size red blood cells (but no iron deficiency) and an elevated white count. Still waiting for EKG result. 

I'd like to know what we can expect from a full evaluation. What is involved, how long does it take, what kind(s) of practitioners are involved? 

And as we embark on treatment (let's assume at home for now), do we need to stop all other activities, such as sports?

How do people deal with this situation from home when there are much-younger siblings? We've got a five-yo boy and we don't want him bossing her around with food or blabbing to everyone about it. 
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sk8r31
Welcome PeppermintPiper, though sorry you have a need to be here.  Getting an ED diagnosis and getting up to speed involves a very steep learning curve.  Knowledge is power, and learning all you can, and preparing for what is to come will be so important.  The FEAST Family Guides are a good place to start.

I can't recommend Lauren Muhlheim's When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder, more highly.  It's the book I wish had been written when we were first dealing with an ED 11 years ago.  Lots of skills and tools to help you get through.  Eva Musby has some great resources on her site too.

It's quite likely that sports activities will need to stop in the short term, and possibly school attendance curtailed, depending on severity of symptoms and behaviors.  Deenl has some great posts about supporting her son's siblings through refeeding at home, you can use the search button to check those.

As well, it's important to make your own physical and mental health a priority, getting the support that you need in order to be in the best shape you can be to support your d.  Many on the forum, myself included, needed meds and therapy to power through the dark days.

Sending you strength and support.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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Foodsupport_AUS
Welcome to the forum. It sounds like everything is coming at you  at once. I agree with the others that learning as much as you can prior to assessment is essential. The quality of care received around the world is highly variable and sometimes very poor quality. It is likely your D's behaviours will become much more obvious when challenged she will require regular meals and supervision after those meals with a view to stopping all purging. You can start without waiting for the assessment - FamilyLedRefeedingRecoveryResourcePartA_Nov_2017.pdf
D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.
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PeppermintPiper
Thank you Sk8r and Foodsupport for the resources. I’m reading and watching and listening to all I can. Even Hubs, who usually leaves all the research to me, is reading. 

Sk8r, I think I saw elsewhere that you are in Western Washington. Is that right? We’re in Snohomish County and waiting on our referral to Seattle Children’s. I saw older posts that said Children’s is only the medical side of things. Do you know if that’s still true?

Thx,
Pep
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sk8r31
Hi PeppermintPiper...yes, I am north of Seattle.  Will send you an email with more info on local resources.  Seattle Children's will take care of the medical piece, but there are some other providers that may be of help as well.  Hang in there!
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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ValentinaGermania

I'd like to know what we can expect from a full evaluation. What is involved, how long does it take, what kind(s) of practitioners are involved? 


You can read that in the AED medical guidelines: https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/AEDWEB/27a3b69a-8aae-45b2-a04c-2a078d02145d/UploadedImages/AED_Medical_Care_Guidelines_English_04_03_18_a.pdf
It is different for bulemia than for anorexia.

And as we embark on treatment (let's assume at home for now), do we need to stop all other activities, such as sports?


To be honest, expect that for some time x. Sports might cost too much energy and she might try to do extrem exercise when purging is stopped (vomitting). You will need to supervise her 24/7 and have 3 meals and 2-3 snack regular to keep her blood sugar level constant and normally that alone leaves not much time for other activities between the meals.

How do people deal with this situation from home when there are much-younger siblings? We've got a five-yo boy and we don't want him bossing her around with food or blabbing to everyone about it. 


Try to have some extra program for that small boy. He should be able to eat with normal healthy people as often as possible. Can you bring him to the grandparents,  a friends family or some other family for some meals in the week? Can hubby eat with him in an extra room?
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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PeppermintPiper
Thank you for these answers, Tina. Oh boy, I’m already depressed and exhausted. This sounds like a very difficult journey, and not just emotionally. 

I’ll look for your email, Skt8r, thank you!

Pep
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ValentinaGermania
I did not want to scare you, I just wanted to be honest. It is a super hard time and a very tricky disease and it will need a lot of power to fight it but - and that is the most important message I want to send - it IS treatable and you can do something to help her and she can recover from that.

Try to do some self care today. A coffee with a friend, a bath, a phone call to someone that you love. It is important to reload your batteries.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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deenl
Hi PepperminPiper and welcome,

I am so sorry that you are in such a difficult situation with both your mother and daughter facing illnesses at the same time. Life can sometimes be very unfair.

My youngest was 9, so a bit older than your son but I think that you can adapt some of our ideas to his age group. While it may be upsetting sometimes, I do think that the chances are good that he will remember little of these difficulties in the longer term.

Wishing you strength and courage,

D
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, stable but no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly and cautiously gaining weight at home and seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Building up hour by hour at school after 18 months at home. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. [thumb] 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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Kali

Welcome Peppermintpiper,

I can so relate to having a daughter and mother ill at the same time...The same year my daughter was her most critically ill my mother first had a stroke, then had a heart valve replacement, and then just as she was recovering from that she fell and broke her pelvis in two places and had to have surgery and some metal rods inserted to hold it all together. So my daughter was in the hospital for 3 months and my mom was in the hospital and then rehab for months as well. I'm not really sure in retrospect how I got through that year. My memories are a misty blur of doctors appointments, trying to figure out how to get my daughter to eat again, extreme and overwhelming anxiety and seeking support on this forum and by learning as much as I could about eating disorders. Fast forward 3 years and my daughter is about to graduate from college, and my mother planned her own very large 90th birthday party this past summer.

The thing with purging is that it is important to do everything you can to stop it. My daughter was purging as well, and in the end what really worked to interrupt the cycle was three months in the hospital where she could not go to the bathroom after eating, while getting as she says "enough therapy to last a lifetime" and then afterwards a very long period of supervision at home. Making the bathroom off limits after eating is important. I used to spend time sitting with my daughter after she ate, bingewatching netflix or walking the dog, or making crafts, to help distract her.

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I'd like to know what we can expect from a full evaluation. What is involved, how long does it take, what kind(s) of practitioners are involved? 

I'm sure that sk8r31 will have some good suggestions about resources in your area. Some of the practitioners you may come in contact with if you are starting with treatment at home and setting up a team to support your daughter and family could be an FBT therapist, a psychiatrist if medication is indicated, a medical doctor trained in eating disorders to monitor your daughter's health on a regular basis, and possibly a dietician. The only antidepressant specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US to treat bulimia is fluoxetine (Prozac), a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). There are also some treatment modalities, CBT, and DBT, which have been found to be helpful for eating disorder sufferers. And I found it helpful to have my own therapist during that time as well, and chose one who had specialized in worked with patients with eating disorders so that I could discuss what was happening with someone who really understood the illness. My daughter was put on prozac after she left the hospital and it has been helpful.

And as we embark on treatment (let's assume at home for now), do we need to stop all other activities, such as sports?

If your daughter is underweight, or has lost a significant amount of weight, or has an exercise compulsion, then it is usually recommended that sports be stopped while refeeding and recovering and for some time after that.

Sending strength and a virtual beverage of your choice....

Kali

 

Food=Love
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PeppermintPiper
Thank you all so much. Kali, I’m sorry you went through that and thank you for sharing. I’m glad to hear they’re both doing better. 
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EASL
PeppermintPiper -

Welcome to the group - I'm sorry you have to be here - but I'm glad you found this place. My D started with modified bulimia - in that she did not necessarily binge but she could purge however and whenever she wanted - so she lost weigh very slowly at first and then towards the end (before diagnosis) it accelerated. She then switched to restriction.

Some ideas for you - (1) Take care of yourself as you have a lot on your plate. Compassion and Food are the two medicines that get you out of eating disorders. Compassion takes a lot of energy and thought - you'll be thinking and rethinking everything with your D and that's normal because right now life isn't normal. But you must make sure you've got a 'full tank' to be compassionate. (2) You'll need to close all the loop-holes to purging - and this is hard. ED has put a lot of formal conversations/contracts in our lives - and I honestly think its a good thing. So with your D - you need to say that purging is wrong BUT you realise its her coping mechanism and giving that up may feel scary/too hard etc BUT she must give it up to have a full life and you and your H are there to help her. Be very clear you will not abide by purging so she knows the ground rules - she may hate you/them/life for a while but you're being honest and consistent. End all opportunities to purge - that means no bathroom visits within 2 hours of meals, no containers of any sort in her room - rubbish can, shoe boxes, plastic bags, etc. (3) Get her counselling - to help her understand that purging is not the way to cope with whatever life has dealt her - that together you can cope and she needs to learn how.

Sound simple in writing - it isn't. You should let her school know and if possible join her for lunch. It is critical she keeps nutrition in and finds ways to work through the urge when it comes - it will be powerful and painful for her to live through and for you to watch - but you can help her through it.

I send a lot of support to you - reach out - it was a huge relief to hear from this gang when we were in our darkest hours - plus there is inspiration here. My D gave up purging for Lent last year (she's very religious of her own accord - I am not) and that worked for her - so in essence she made a contract with herself. She's had relapses occasionally but she now knows she gets "sad" when she doesn't have enough to eat - and she does not like feeling sad so she avoids the things (e.g. purging and not eating) that get her to sad. We are still on the journey but we are heading in the right direction.

Take care - and keep us updated.
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