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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Alwaysthere
Hi Everyone,

With my sister currently in residential treatment, I've heard her say that so far during the first few days she's felt sick to her stomach, uncomfortable, and shaking. Having done a lot of research on this, I know this is a very normal reaction for the body to have when food is being presented to it in a way it's not use to. I'm just curious, how long will that feeling continue to last? I know it's probably different for everyone, but is this just the body's initial reaction to food, or will my sister continue to experience this discomfort for weeks/months?

Thank you...
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ValentinaGermania
Sorry to say that it will last for months. The intestine system of your sister is like a muscle and has shrunk. It must now learn to work again. You can help her by offering some over the counter plant meds like balm to help with all the air in the system (that causes most of the pain) but please talk about that with the residential team before. A warm cushion after meals helps also, please encourage her to ask for that.
Here with my d (17 at refeeding) it took about 6 months to get better and about a year to fade away totally. Calculated from weight restoration date.
Sorry, but she will need to go through this discomfort. It is like a person that did not walk for a long time after and accident and that needs to learn to use his legs again...
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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deenl
I think Tabitha Farrar's blog is a wonderful source of information from someone who has had to go through all the issues that crop up in recovery and come out the other side. This is what she has to say about digestive discomfort in recovery.

I am sending strength, courage and respect to your sister. Recovery is not at all easy but so worth it in the end.

Warm wishes,

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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sk8r31
As tina mentions, the reactions that your sister is having are quite common.  Also lasted months for our d; but a warm compress for the stomach helped, and distraction is a big tool to help with the distress/discomfort.  My d also had high anxiety, especially during the early days of nutritional rehabilitation, and meds did help her by 'taking the edge off' those very distressing feelings.  Might be something to discuss with the medical team.
Sending warm support to you & your sister.
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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Torie
Hi AlwaysThere,
As the others have said, this will likely continue for quite some time.  The key point, though, is that it WILL get better.  That is what she needs to hear, I think.*
When my d fell ill, I read somewhere that it is like they are floundering in a turbulent sea, struggling to keep their head above water.  Our job is to stand nearby on the shore, waving a banner that says, "It WILL get better."  We are to keep saying this whether they believe us or not and even whether WE believe it or not.  I think it did help my d.
The journey back to health is painfully s-l-o-o-o-o-w.  So slow that it is hard to see day-to-day progress, and the progress is not linear so that better times are followed by worse ones and vice versa.  That makes it even harder to tell that progress is actually being made.
I wonder how your sister would feel about receiving notes / cards to avoid the "on the spot" feeling of a face-to-face conversation.  I also wonder if she would be willing to let you speak with her caregivers directly.
The asterisk is because although it truly WILL get (much) better, the digestive issues may not ever fully resolve.  My d has been well and truly weight restored for three years now, and she still has some digestive issues from time to time that never occurred before AN.  
Your sister is so lucky to have you.  I hope you feel free to keep asking as many questions as you like. xx
-Torie
  
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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Alwaysthere
Thanks, everyone for the info. Sometimes the hope of a speedy recovery hides the obvious fact that none of this is speedy. I know my parents have high hopes that when she comes home in a month she will be a lot better and more like herself, but I'm worried it won't be like this. I've read a lot about relapses, and it scares me because it sounds like no matter how successful the treatment is, everyone relapses at some point... and then all of the treatment will have been for nothing.

Sorry, I feel like I sound negative today...
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ValentinaGermania
Relapse is possible but the better her recovery is and the better her safety net makes the risk less. Not everybody relapses at some point. My d is in year 3 of recovery and we did not see a relapse up to now (knocking on wood).
Patients normally relapse because they are given responsibility for food back too early or they fall back into old AN behaviour again and do not eat their meal plan any more. So this is what you need to do first when she comes home, watch her like a hawk and help her eat all food that is necessary. Eat with her if possible and distract her as much as possible in between meals.

Please talk to your parents about that and tell them that AN recovery takes years and that she will not be much better when she comes home. Transition home is a very tricky phase and it does not help when the expectations are too high and she cannot manage that.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Kali
Dear Alwaysthere,

It will be important for the family to support your sister when she comes home in a very practical sense; planning to eat with her and making sure she is fully nourished. Someone can go food shopping and prepare meals.  If there is no follow up at home it is certainly more possible she will relapse. Perhaps your family can discuss the plans for supporting your sister when she comes home with her and let her know that you all want to help and work out a schedule to eat with her. Friends can also participate by making plans to have lunch or dinner with her. And working out a step down plan to continue in treatment and letting her very gradually take more responsibility for her eating (when she is able to do that without losing weight) when she comes home is also important. These things will give her the best possibility of not relapsing. Releasing an adult from treatment with no follow up treatment, full responsibility for eating on their own and no family support is more likely to end in relapse so try to avoid that. Perhaps your family can have a therapy session while your sister is in residential to discuss after discharge plans with her and her team there. That is what we did.

When my d. came home from treatment all her meals were prepared for her for a long time. She did plate her own food and we would comment if her portions needed to be increased and then she took more. After awhile she chose her own snacks while we had snack with her. Eventually she tried eating lunch on her own. Sometimes this was not that successful. So then meal support was increased again. We also spent time cooking together, food shopping together and meal planning, and our goal was for her to be able to eat enough to return to university. Identifying some of your sister's goals for her life and some of the things she might like to do when she is well again might also help motivate her to remain recovery minded.

Hope this helps answer your question about relapse. All the treatment will not have been for nothing even is she hits some rocky periods, but support for your sister is essential to be able to ease her into her "normal" life again. Recovery is not a straight line and there may be steps forward and steps backward but keep believing that it is possible.

Your parents might benefit from taking a look at the feast website and reading around on ATDT as well if you want to let them know about this resource.

warmly,
Kali 
Food=Love
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Alwaysthere
Thank you, Kali

I like how all of that sounds, the only hiccup is that she is 30 years old and married, so she does not live with us. I would say her husband is supportive in a sense, but he doesn't seem to really grasp the importance of always being around and I know I've done more research then he has, which is very frustrating.  My mom and I plan on going to a few therapy sessions before she comes back, and hopefully we can get him to come with us too. I just don't know how to be with her 24/7... 
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ValentinaGermania
I think it would be very important to get her husband into the boat. Maybe he just does not know what big role he could play in her recovery and how he could help her. Men do often need more time and more push to learn about ED and to understand how to help their kids or partners.
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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mjkz
I would highly recommend your sister and her husband do the five day program at the Center for Balanced Living.  It is eye opening and extremely valuable.  It would be something maybe when she comes out for them to try.
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Torie
mjkz wrote:
I would highly recommend your sister and her husband do the five day program at the Center for Balanced Living.  It is eye opening and extremely valuable.  It would be something maybe when she comes out for them to try.

GREAT idea, mjkz.  People from all over the world go there, and many, many of them report that that is what got everyone on board and paddling in the same direction.  Most definitely worth the time and money if there's any possible way to swing it. xx
-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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mjkz
Thanks Torie and welcome back. You've been missed.
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