At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...
I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)
Sunday, 14 June 2015
My Osteoporosis and Me.
it was just another week, really. Another week, probably my fifth or sixth or something, of my treatment as an inpatient at the mental services hospital in Dublin.
And as was customary on Monday afternoon, I entered into the interview room for my weekly meeting with my consultant. I was nervous, but that wasn't anything that unusual. I have always been nervous when it comes to meetings.
She was smiling and that instantly put me at my ease. Maybe she had some good news for me, maybe she was impressed with me for putting so much effort into recovery over the past few weeks. Or maybe...maybe even, she was going to give me some indication as to when I would be discharged. I sat in the little chair a few paces away from her and waited.
She asked me how I was and how my week had been. And then I noticed the official looking folder she had open on her lap - my medical record. It was open on what looked like some sort of graph.
"i have your scan results here, Emily" she said. she looked at me right in the eye. The room was as warm and as stifling as ever, but suddenly my whole body was icy cold.
"You have serious osteoporosis, Emily," she said, her voice not betraying one shard of emotion. She held out the graph for me to see. I didn't see much, save the black vertical line to the left hand side of the page, which appeared to be divided into three different coloured zones: yellow, orange and red. Alongside the yellow area was written "normal bone mass"; alongside orange, "osteopenia", and then, finally, next to red was the word "osteoporosis".
"This is you, here, Emily" she explained, resting a long-nailed finger on a little dot drawn onto the graph. "You have serious osteoporosis, Emily...it has been there for many years."
I stared at the little graph in silence as she continued, her face expressionless, her voice clear, crisp, unemotional. I didn't hear, or understand anything she said, after that. Every words that she spoke rang in my ears, muffled and incomprehensible, as if my head was stuffed with cotton wool, or as if I had been pulled beneath the surface of a still, deathly calm sea and was unable to save myself; to pull myself free of those icy, icy waters...
So this is what it has come to...
Osteoporosis, at 20 years old.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease which causes bones to become weak, brittle and susceptible to fracture. It occurs mainly when there are insufficient levels of calcium and vitamin D in the body; but can develop for a variety of reasons. Diet, exercise, smoking, hormonal imbalances, age, the menopause. These are all factors which might have had a role in the weakening of bone in humans.
Of course, for me, there's no mystery surrounding the circumstances behind my own osteoporosis, of course. I know all too well what has caused it: my eating disorder, of course.
because of the pattern of restriction and overexercise which my eating disorder imposed upon me, for most of my teenage years - the crucial period as far as bone development is concernned - my bone mass was reduced critically. With one single trip or fall, I might break my femur or my wrist; I could fracture my spine. And I will never be able to cure it.
It is so tough, and horrible, being diagnosed with osteoporosis, at an age when you find people tellings you that you are "young and have your whole life ahead of you". And unfortunately for me, as I have mentioned before now, there are certain things which I am prevented from doing, because of the weak condition of my bones. Things which at some time, I would have liked to have taken up, or have the experience of. Things like horseriding, or skiing, or running, or gymnastics. When my consultant told me I would never be able to go horseriding again, I wept fresh tears anew, as a long time ago as a child I had ridden a little white pony and had loved every moment of it. I had longed to take it up, again, sometime in the future. But because of my osteoporosis, bbecause of my eating disorder, I know that this is no longer possible..
But the most important thing for me to remember here - for us to remember here - is that osteoporosis does not at all mean that the Voice of your eating disorder has won.
Rather, being diagnosed with osteoporosis should stand as a fundamental motivating factor to fight back against your eating disorder harder than ever.
Because now is the time when you need to start nourishing and caring for your body again. Because there is still so, so much hope. and I know this too. because even though I will always have osteoporosis...I know that there is still ALOT I can do to helpimprove my condition. I can help to strengthen my bones and make them as strong as I can under the circumstances. I have osteoporosis, but...it needn't be "serious" osteoporosis, forever. i can, we can, take action now to help strengthen the bones and prevent them from deteriorating and weakening even further.
As the sad and inevitable truth is, that this is what will happen; if you have osteoporosis and continue to restrict and starve yourself. In a way I feel incredibly lucky that I found out about my osteoporosis, when I did. because if I didn't know...I could have just carried on, the way i was...and I could have ended up breaking my leg, or snapping my wrist, or even, fracturing my spine, and ended up wheelchair bound for life.
And so now, I am actively taking steps to improve my osteoporosis. By caring for my body, by giving it the nourishment and care it needs. By eating foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, and beginning to do exercises recommended by my physiotherapist which will help to build up my bone strength.
But I know, without one shard of a doubt, the best thing I can do to help to improve my osteoporosis and reverse some of the damage done to my bones, is to fight my eating disorder and go against that Voice in my Head...before it takes anything else away from me... <3 xxx
neither ED, or my osteoporosis, will take away special moments and experiences away from me. And if I keep on fighting, I know I will still be able to do many of the things that I love - walking Benny, hiking with my family, swimming in hot weather, cycling in the warm golden glow of summer sunshine...<3 xxx