Friday, September 28, 2012

My Brush (I was sure) with Death on Tuesday

It started at 2 pm Tuesday.  Nap time for Betsy... it's one of my favorite things to do.  I wish children knew what they were missing out on!  Oh, the loveliness of a nap!  

But, not this Tuesday.  No, no, no my body was not ABOUT to allow me to lay still and quite and at rest for awhile.  It was at this time that the strange aching all over started.  It did!  And so, being Betsy, I thought "surely it's my back.  I will lay on the floor."  Obviously that worsened the pain.  "I will try to sit this way... and that way... and now I will just cry and beg for the pain to stop!"  And I did.  On the floor.  Moving ever-so-slowly as to not exacerbate the sharp, stabbing sensations.  

And THEN began the heart pounding and clammy-all-feeling.  Death, is that you at my door?

I was certain it was bone marrow cancer.  Or a sudden onset of Osteoporosis.  Or, worse, I was having a stroke.  Yes.  I was sure it was all these things (because OF COURSE I'm going to think of the worst diseases possible to explain why I have pain.)  

I called James, who is only three hours away, and cried, cried, cried.  And asked what to do (because apparently, in that state, I have no possible way of thinking rationally.  I was ready to admit myself to the hospital.  Truly!)  Being the logical James that he is, he recommends a clinic (novel idea and MUCH less expensive than mine.)  So, off I go to the nearby clinic.  Thankfully (and graciously) James's best friend took me.  

We were hopeful I would be seen soon, since the parking lot looked a bit sparse (not that clinics are known for having patients wait hours on end, or anything.)  I got checked in, (probably looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  The whole standing up, appearing to be healthy and happy thing... not working) and sat with Dan while waiting.  And waiting.  Midst the waiting, we entertained ourselves by creating new names for the restaurants across the street, and deciding that Dan should open a clinic titled "The Quickest Clinic," or something like that.  In and out in 20 minutes would be the motto.  The conversation drifted to how odd some of the patients ALSO waiting were acting.   

But listen, you can only create so much to do while sitting in plastic chairs waiting.  

I was told "You'll be next, Ms. Herrington."  High fives all around!  Lovely news!  

And out comes the nurse.. "Mrs. Smith?"  and then, "Mr. Jones?"  and how about, "Mr. and Mrs. Lee?"  Seriously.  I was growing so extremely impatient, as my name was not coming up.  I was staring so hard at the door where the nurse came out I am sure a hole was about to be burned right through it.  

Suddenly, out comes the polite lady who entered me in the computer system.  "Ms. Herrington, I'm so sorry we laid your paperwork down and they neglected to add you to the list.  You are next, for sure."  GRAND.  I'm so excited to keep waiting!

They did call me back, and I was seen by a lady I could not understand very well... and if it hadn't been for allllll the signs in the examining room saying "please wait to be discharged by staff" I would have run - or hobbled - out much faster than I went in.  Of course, they take my blood, and I swear I'm so tired of giving blood.  I feel like I could have saved many people by now... and goodnight above the world that lady made the needle do something awfully terrible and pain shot to my finger tips!  THEN a urine sample, and I told the lab examiner, "I think I'm just going to go now, but thank you for your help."  

" Oh, but miss, do you want any medicine or antibiotics?"  

"I am much better (not really) and am actually running very, VERY late."  

"At least let the doctor read your tests."  


And then they couldn't find the doctor.  Tell me, how do you suddenly lose the doctor?  She was right there not one minute ago.  

They find her... I talk with her... and I decline some strange pain reliever, which caused her to get tight-lipped and frowny-faced at me.  "Well, if you don't want what is going to make you feel better, please sign here."  I signed so fast the pen just about flew out of my hand, and I limped out the door.  

Honestly, it had taken so long to be seen that a lot of the pain had subsided.  I still felt strange the next day, but better.  I was so curious as to what was ailing me!  

Then came Thursday.  That's when I discovered the real reason... peanut butter.  

To think how well I had always treated my friend (or so I thought!) peanut butter all these years, and he dares to give me a hint of Salmonella poisoning.  Ohhh yes.  Horrifying news.

I was meandering through Kroger last night, and noticed a "We are sorry to report this, but any peanut butter made by this brand through these dates has been recalled due to several reports of Salmonella-like illnesses."  

Oh my!  That was the brand I used!  That was what I had thrown out, due to not having a clue how I was sick!  Not you, please not you!  It just can't be so!

It was so.  And I got a refund.  I can report to you, most happily, that I do not have any of the first mentioned diseases today.  I'm close to being Salmonella-free, now, and that makes me glad.  

Tell me, dear readers, have you had any such experience?  I would love to hear!

Love, Betsy

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Snack that Saved Me: Disposable Timeline

The Snack that Saved Me: Disposable Timeline: Grand realization - it's not completely possible to duplicate a perfect day.  And in soars the concept of flexibility.  Betsy being flexibl...

Disposable Timeline

Grand realization - it's not completely possible to duplicate a perfect day.  And in soars the concept of flexibility.  Betsy being flexible.  It's, well, a complete work in progress - as are many (many, many, many) things in Betsy's world at the moment.  And hence my reason for discussing a timeline.  I remember these from school.  I was so ridiculously excited to open up a new box of 12-count map pencils (you know you were, too, because you didn't have to sharpen them yet) and create a masterpiece to make my teacher smile throughout the entire year.  I do WONDER what in the world I wrote - and have they been lost completely?  I am positive it would evoke nothing but laughter should I randomly run across "My Timeline"  by:  Betsy Herrington, 5th Grade, Story Elementary School."  It probably went something  like this...
1982 - born to Mommy and Daddy in Palestine
1983 - Lucinda was born to Mommy and Daddy in Palestine
1985- Lindsay Reed was my best friend.  I met her in pre-school!  We played lots of games, but I never got to be the teacher.
1985 - A boy told me he was going to stick a needle in my eye at pre-school.  I was really sad.  I also went to the principal's office a lot.
1986 - Da's cat died.  We weren't supposed to ask why it died.  But I did after Mommy left.
1987 - Daddy and Mommy aren't living together.  But at least I got to stay in my little house!  I love it because Daddy built us the best two-story treehouse EVER.  And Mr. Jones was across the street - we stood on the fence, yelled his name, and hopped (probably literally) over to get our ice-cream.
1987 - Lou almost drowned!  It was so scary, and she was blue.  And I thought for a long time afterwards it was my fault.  I was told it was.
1987 - I lived with Mommy and Charlie in our little house on Gardener Drive.  I loved my blanket.   
1988 - Lindsay and I had chicken pox at the same time.  And we got to color together, which was really fun!  And Mommy made us take oatmeal baths... I don't know if I liked oatmeal baths.  
1988 - Mommy's hair started falling out.   She laughed and cried at the mirror.  I didn't know what to think.
1989 - Mommy and Daddy told me I have to get my tonsils removed before I can go to Disney World.  So I did, because I really love Disney World and Lindsay is going with us!  I moved to a new house on a pecan tree farm, too, and Lou and Laura go on picnics with me.  My favorite sandwich was bologna and cheese, with a pickle and Doritos on the side.  I liked eating this with Mommy.
1989 - We go to Disney World, and on my birthday we eat on a ship!  It didn't move, and I was really sad.
1990 -I started a brand new school!  I had the coolest outfit all picked out, and I loved my new, shiny, black Keds.  I couldn't wait to meet Mrs. Stephenson!
1991- Mommy wasn't feeling very well anymore, so we stayed with lots of different family members.  Mostly Da, though, and that was the best!
1991 - I started 4th grade!  Mrs. Torma was my teacher, and one of my favorites!  I loved to race her on the playground.  Jason was in my class, too.
1992 - Mommy died in January.  It made me really sad, but sometimes I hoped it was all just pretend.  Now I had to live with Daddy and his new wife.
1993 - I got Mrs. Stephenson for a teacher again for 5th grade!  I feel like I'm one of her favorites, but I won't tell the other people in my class.

I bet I wrote it in purple.  Or several colors.  Wouldn't it be such fun to share our old-school works of true art?  I love love the idea.

The real reason I bring this up is share how I went into treatment with a "Betsy will be better by September 24th" mentality.  A timeline.  I had to be better by that day, because that was when FMLA was up.  Surely I would be cured!  Surely I would be completely good and well and wonderful!  Yep.  Sure thing, there Bets.  And no.  No, that is not even close to what happened, and goodnight it took me A REALLY LONG TIME to remove said date from my mind.  Going into treatment with an agenda only hinders - it did me!  The first day... oh that first day!  I love looking back in my journal, because I was beyond infuriated!  I couldn't believe I had to drink a cup of milk and eat a bagel!  A BAGEL!  What nerve they had to serve me nothing with wheat... and quesadillas??  You.  Are.  Kidding.  Oh they have literally lost their damn minds, and I'm going back to Austin.  And that's what I thought.  For the entire first week, probably second, and then possibly the third.  I was livid and a sobbing mess of emotions, and I did NOT want to talk about how food  made me feel.  It made me feel full - what else would it do?  I was full everyday, and if someone asked me how I was I would answer "Well, I'm full, and how are you?"  So Betsy of me!  Overtime (and I mean at least a month's worth of dreading meals) it became easier.  And I soon learned that my "All Better with a Band-Aid!" date was going to come and go.  

I decided that was ok.  Hard decision, truly, but I want to be better for a million and one reasons.  So treatment continues until at least December.      

I had to dispose of my plans, and go with it.  Ohhhh, I loathe "going with it" because schedules are neat and exciting.  Like making lists (which I'm great at, as is my sister.  If you need a list-maker, please call.)  I like knowing what I'm going to do - but I also enjoy spontaneity.  Hmm.  Conflicting, but not worth dwelling on.  Honestly, being spontaneous for me right now looks like suddenly deciding to make macaroni and cheese and eat it!  Great work, Betsy!  Here's your sticker!!  Really, I get that excited.  I think a sticker chart would be a great addition to recovery - imagine how many fun ones you could pick out!  If a sticker chart doesn't make you happy, I don't know what will.

Ok, I must share how truly abnormal I can be.  I wish you could see me trying to just pick up and buy a low-fat or higher-fat version of dairy.  Take cream cheese, for example.  I cannot help but wonder what my fellow shoppers think as they watch me pick up containers and put them back down.  Pick up another one, read it, put it back down.  Pick up a third one, then the first one.  Compare.  Put them both back down.  Move around curiously as though I've created a dairy dance or something, pick up the second one and walk away quickly.  Briskly.  Almost running to check out before I change my mind.  This is how I try to conquer fears at the store.  If you see someone doing this, perhaps you'll understand a bit better - maybe even go and join their dancing.  It will make them smile.  

Have a happy day, watch out for timelines, and just buy the cream cheese.

Love, Betsy

Saturday, September 22, 2012

By the Grace of God... and Peanut Butter

"But by the grace of God, I am what I am..."

If it were not for His incredible, undeserved grace I most likely wouldn't be writing this today.  The road to recovery is long, tiresome, and often lonely.  Thank goodness "His compassions and mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness!"  So, I suppose in actuality a snack didn't save me, God did.  BUT, He can use anything He wishes to help bring truth and light to darkness - how lovely that is to my heart!

I assume I should explain how in the world a snack can save someone, especially since it's the title, and ESPECIALLY since it's not the most obvious title.  Clarity can be helpful.

Once upon a time there was me (and still is) who loved peanut butter.  As a child, I enjoyed this true delight on saltine crackers - a simple something to eat after school.  I probably most loved it, from childhood to college, when encased in a chocolate shell (you can call them Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, if you prefer.) I remember loving peanut butter right off the spoon, too, while trying not to get caught jar-and-spoon-handed.  Surely you didn't do this, as well!  It was considered a great travesty and reason for grounding in my home... Perish the thought of doing something so terrible, right?  But moving on (or I will digress.  So Betsy of me.)  So, for some reason or another this love of peanut butter, in a sense, was the only source of protein and fat I was not fearful of when my eating disorder began taking it's horribly ugly shape and spot in my life.  That's another interesting part of this - labeling foods "good/bad" or "safe/unsafe."  Peanut butter has always been "good and safe" in my world, but I know many who struggle with an extreme fear of it.  Another example of how diverse this disorder is depending on the person it's affecting.

When at my lowest point, my days revolved around the exact same meals at the exact same time.  And if someone dared to interfere with my allotted times I would become most upset, defensive, conflicted, angry, and frustrated.  Really!  And the excuses I could come up - OH, how creative the mind of someone with an eating disorder can get!  All sorts of excuses can seem completely true and valid, and imagine the joy Chaz got from this.  I can hear him saying, "Ha!  We've fooled the masses yet again!  How thrilling and deceiving we are!"  Yep.  Exactly.
My biggest meal, "The Betsy Snack," ultimately looked like a breakfast:  Peanut butter and bananas on toast along side a small bowl of plain Greek yogurt holding frozen fruit, chocolate chips, and a sprinkling of cinnamon and cereal.  I think back now and wonder why in the world I would only eat it at night!  It's completely delicious, and is the one meal I looked forward to ALL DAY.  I was determined to eat it, no matter if I was at home or traveling, and began taking an entire bag of food with me wherever I went.  To make certain I would be hungry in the evening, I chewed SO much gum.  Really.  Do you like gum?  Do you like a whole pack of gum a day... maybe 2, if you're really not doing so hot?  Well, my jaws are very upset with me about this, and I've yet to hear the end of it from them.

I write alllllll of this for a reason:  the snack I loved probably saved me from being placed in the hospital or even dying.  I believe this with everything in me, too, and truly thank God that it was NOT a fear food of mine.  Even though it did keep me alive, it held me back from enjoying food with others and eating meals throughout the day - I'll never understand it, and even now it seems so surreal to write about it.  My nutritionist and I are currently working on increasing my dinner portions and decreasing the snack.  Would you be shocked to hear it's one of the most difficult things I've ever had to give up?  Talk about an interesting addiction; and, well, there are no self-help books on "How to give up a snack."  Not one.  

I hope, in some way or another, my stories will help others... or bring them hope and laughter... or even allow them to know it's ok to be weird.  Ha!  It makes life MUCH more exciting, and the right people will not only like you for it, but join in on it.  How fun is that?

Enjoy your Saturday, friends.  It's waffle or pancake day in many kitchens across the world, one of which I hope is yours (whoever you are!)  You can't help but find some joy there :)

Love, Betsy      

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

French Toast and Rocking Horses

It's Wednesday.  I don't know what I think about this day... just a middle of the week one.  I suppose there are many things one can do on a Wednesday, or any day, but the "doing something" part is what often stumps me.  And I sit and wander in circles - always moving, never really stopping, in hopes of something wonderful inspiring me to DO.  In therapy yesterday I expressed how prevalent this wandering, uneasy, discontented feeling has become most hours of the day.  I say hours, because if I said it was just a few days I would be lying.  I don't want to lie - eating disorders lie, and I'm trying to rid myself of Chaz.  CHAZ NO MORE!  Great t-shirt slogan.  Hmmm.  I think I like that idea (and it would make so many people ask questions!)  

Well, today I decided I would make french toast, which has become one of my favorite things to make in the mornings...

So, I did.  I know, the picture doesn't do any kind of justice to how it actually tasted (completely delicious) but it's what I have to share.  I must tell you, though, that if you were to offer to make this for me I would not let you.  I would be internally throwing a fit, while externally politely declining the kind offer.  Trust.  I struggle with trusting others to make my food - a twisted, yet brutally honest, part of my particular type of disease.  Now imagine this:  if I am unable to trust people I know to make my food, just think how completely terrifying it is to order this in a restaurant!  Goodnight!  I laugh at myself telling the waiter, "well, I'll have this... made this way... and, actually, I'll just go help the chef.  I should meet him, and be certain he's measuring and portioning everything correctly.  It's just how I am.  Thank you!"  I'm so certain they would welcome me with open arms.  All that to say, overcoming this takes the smallest baby steps I can possibly take - think Bill Murray in "What About Bob."  I find myself repeating many of his quirky phrases throughout the day (which is, well, a bit of comic relief.  For example, "I'm sailing!"  See, don't you feel better?)

And now onto rocking horses, which I think I'll talk more in-depth about next posting.  This small figure brought up extreme feelings of fear while I was in sand tray therapy Monday.  In short, I can relate to a rocking horse in so many areas of my past and present life.  It doesn't move where it would like, and only does what other's instruct it to do.  If the sweet, little horse could talk he'd probably say, "I just want to be like the real horses and run through the pastures!"  Something along those lines, anyway.   It's interesting to think that a toy evokes many other emotions when placed in a therapeutic "let's get down to what the hell is holding you back from complete recovery" room.  

I hope you have a happy-french-toast-goodness kind of Wednesday.

Love, Betsy

Monday, September 17, 2012

Being Abnormally Normal

It's rather addicting to watch blog stats go up... it's funny to think of that as an "addiction," because in the 1980's (I know, that's "way back in the day" for some!) it was probably unheard of.  And odd.  So random, but it's exactly what I'm pondering this morning as I sit and debate what in the world to eat.  This is frustratingly common for me to do most days right now - I always think, "Well, what do normal people eat?" I, at best, can be considered an abnormal normal! I don't know what normal is, and I doubt I will ever know - and I'm ok with that.  Being random-free-spirited-odd-yet-inspiring-Betsy is kind of neat; I welcome anyone along on the journey, truly!  A journey to being oddly interesting - ha!  How I've digressed so from the first sentence...

Today I looked in the mirror and couldn't stand being so thin; never once think to yourself "I wish I had an ounce of an eating disorder so I could lose weight, too!"  You don't.  You would never want it, and there is no such thing as having a small amount of one, because most unfortunately it goes awry fast and furiously and the next thing you know you've placed yourself in a treatment center.  I promise that who you are is most beautiful, and so be pleased with that.  Find things you love about yourself and treat yourself with kindness and goodness.  I'm having to learn how to do this, and it's rather difficult!  Chaz is so mean, loud, and cruel - especially in the mornings and evenings.  He loves to scream, even, and that's the worst part of having the disorder - the screaming "You're fat, huge, bloated, and a nuisance to everyone."  OH goodness!  And he likes to send you into fits of depression and anxiety - sometimes a "level 5," if you want to know how we are to rate it when we report in for treatment.  That's the highest level, by the way.  Ok, so here's a fun thought - who decided 5 or 10 were numbers to rate your mood or levels on?  I do wonder, as I would have chosen something like 7.  Because it's not perfectly anything!  I would come in and say, "Hello, I'm on a 7 level today, and how are you doing?"  The thought makes me laugh outloud... and so that seems a positive place to end on.  

Love, Betsy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This should have been the first one...

Update for why I chose this title.

So, once upon a time there was snack.  This snack is delicious and changed little bits at a time throughout the years - but not much - and it always included peanut butter.  Always.  Without fail.  In a sense, this snack of peanut butter on toast, bananas, cinnamon, fruit, yogurt and so forth saved me.  As you learn more about me, you'll learn why it did.

And that is that is that for now.

ED has been renamed Chaz and other news.

As a disclaimer for anyone named Chaz who MIGHT read this:  Please understand I don't hate you, or dislike you, or really even know you.  The name, however, is really fitting for my ED.  So, no offense?  Thanks.

ED, standing for eating disorder, is now going to be Chaz... you know the one.  He's a jerk on a bike who expects the best from you and gives nothing in return.  Makes you feel terrible, fat, ugly, horrible, and at best a nuisance to others.  He's mean while at the same time putting on a facade of perfection around everyone else.  And he dresses all in leather.  Probably pleather.  You can call ED whatever you want, but the point is he's lying.  He convinces you of things that are so filled with untruths it's sickening and makes YOU sick.  Literally.  And, yeah, usually I'm going to post a lot of Betsy-funny-random-thoughts-and-thinkings while going through treatment for anorexia... but not today.  Often I wake up wondering how the day will be, and it started out ok.  It's raining!  Happy Rainy Fun Day to me!  But then, the fuzzy-headed thinking came in.  And I realized Chaz has been at again; convincing me to not take in enough protein and to eat the same snack at night - the same routine that led me into this deep, dark pit of despair.  Truth:  There is nowhere to go, not one place, but up from this point.  Hope.  Such a hope and light saturated in that phrase.  On a happier note... It's fall.  IT'S FALL!!  If I could put the smells and lovely leaves and pumpkins and warm baked treats into that one sentence, well, I would.  Fall makes me a bit more joyful - which is why Cinnamon Raisin French Toast was a most lovely, delicious breakfast choice for the morning.  I prefer to end on a more pleasant note - meaning I better stop now.  Have a beautiful day - and if you can, stop and smell the fall-goodness surrounding you.

Love, Betsy