I’m back! I apologise for having been away for so long. Since I last posted a lot has happened. Most importantly, I guess, on the 21st of August, I was admitted as an in-patient at a specialist Eating Disorders unit in a city around an hour and a half away from my home. Let me take you on my journey:
Before Jo weighed me, I’d already been to the doctor to tell them about my weight loss. Jo had been threatening to come too, but couldn’t make it, which was a relief, because I didn’t want to admit the truth about my weight loss in front of her.
The appointment was, in the end, very unimpressive. The doctor turned out to be a newly qualified locum registrar. They move between surgeries to fill gaps, and are thus not local and aren’t familiar with patients in this area. I told her that I had been diagnosed with anorexia and had been treated by the Eating Disorders clinic. They’d discharged me and now I’d relapsed badly. I was 50.3 kilos, which made my BMI 16.6 and off the underweight end of the scale, beyond even the red band. I asked to be re-referred to the Eating disorders service.
The doctor leaned forward attentively and, with mannered sympathy, started asking me leisurely, general questions about my condition: had I had it since I was a child? In my 40s? So, I’d had it for 7 years? And this was caused by a loss of appetite, was it? Did I get the symptoms and behaviours all at once? What was my job? (With sudden inspiration) was my condition the result of stress? And this was caused by a loss of appetite, was it? (again) Was I married? What did my wife do? Did I have kids? Ages? Was the family supportive?
So, ok, she wasn’t local and she hadn’t had time to read my notes. That’s understandable. Everyone in the NHS is highly over-worked, but I found myself having to take forays into unhelpful background detail while she orientated herself. This made her seem at a loss about what I was doing in her surgery. Finally, she confirmed this impression when she said “So you know that you have to eat more or exercise less? You seem to have good insight into your condition. So, what are you hoping we, at the NHS, can do to support you in your recovery?”
I felt an immediate sense of deflation. I wanted to cry out, “I was hoping you’d cure me; You’d save me. I was hoping you’d commit me, take my cares from off my shoulders; make me well.” And I suddenly felt abandoned. And frightened: I’m going to have to do all of this entirely by myself. Perhaps I really will I exercise myself into a heart attack.