The Power of a Team

A Fresh Start, and a Bet

Dr. Rock and I made a deal at my appointment with him on Wednesday. We made an agreement that if my weight gets down to a certain number, I will re-enter treatment. The scary thing about making that deal, is that I’m not too far from that number. I don’t have a whole lot of buffer room, and he questioned if I really wanted the number to be as high as it was. If our “magic number” was a bit lower, then I might be able to catch and address it before things start going too far south, and be able to save myself from having to do this whole process. Again.

But I know the way my mind works. And I know that if I do hit that number, there won’t be any stopping me without significant intervention. So, with a touch of reluctancy and a whole bunch of anxiety, I told him that, yes, I want that to be the number.

The dietician I’ll be seeing in Corvallis specializes in eating disorders, and even better, college-aged clients. She will make a contract between me, my mom and dad, Dr. Rock, and my therapist, stating that if my weight reaches this number, my parents will be called and significant measures will be taken. Obviously, the goal in all of this is for us to be proactive and never have to take action in the way this contract lays it out. But I think it’s invaluable to have a written document saying such things.

When I went back to Oregon State last fall, I’d been struggling to keep my weight where it needed to be for a couple months. I’d insisted that it wasn’t intentional though, and that I wanted to bring it back up. My mom and I agreed that I would see a nurse at the student health center and get weighed in every one to two weeks. We also agreed that were the weight to drop to a certain number (interestingly enough, the same number we’ve agreed on being the magic number), the nurse would call home and let her know, so that we could figure out what to do.

I did go get weighed in every week – that much I was honest about doing. I loved it, actually. I got to use a super accurate medical scale that I wouldn’t have had access to were I just weighing myself in my apartment, and I left each weigh-in feeling better than I had the week before. But I called my mom after each appointment, and told her that the weight was higher than it was. And there was no one who knew the difference.

I’m not sure why when I contacted student health and told them of my situation (the eating disorder and all) they only suggested I see a nurse. Nothing against nurses – heck, I want to become one – but unless you’ve got E.D. training or understand how the brain of an eating disordered person works, you’re not really qualified to be involved in the treatment of one.

The nurse, who I’ll call Jean, was a very sweet woman. She just had no idea what she was doing when it came to monitoring someone who was in “recovery.” I told her of my mom’s and my deal the first week I went to get weighed in, and she said that she would weigh me in, but because of HIPAA laws, she wouldn’t be able to call my mom. She also weighed me in fully clothed, and told me the weight each time…all of which are “no-no”s in the E.D. world. Four weigh-ins into the year, I had reached the magic number, but Jean didn’t say much about it. She hadn’t been recording my weight, and actually didn’t remember what the magic number was! So once she asked about it almost a month later, and I knew I’d reached it, I told her it was 10 pounds lower than it was. I’m not blaming any of this on her. At all. I know that I am 100% responsible. It is unfortunate though, how few medical professionals, especially those who treat young-adults, who are most at-risk for eating disorders, are trained in dealing with such.

The clear point, to me at least, in where we went wrong last year, was in not working as a team. The nurse was talking to me, I was talking to my mom…but the three of us weren’t talking together. There was no one holding me accountable between the two other people who were involved, so I could easily manipulate the truth of what was really going on.

This time, things look quite a bit different. As I said above, my new dietician and I will be creating a contract, and I’ve already signed release of information forms so that all of my providers can communicate with each other as well. I am also signing ROIs for my parents.

Anyway, the point in explaining how this all went down is just to show how powerful a team is. Whether it’s recovery from an addiction, a serious illness, parenting, dealing with the loss of a loved one, etc., there is an invaluable difference in working together as a team. As in more than two people. Not only are there more perspectives that come into play, but there’s an added accountability in each person being able to speak to the other about what they’ve been told.

The Maudsley Method, a very popular treatment philosophy for E.D. recovery, is based around the idea that familial involvement is essential to recovery from an eating disorder. It promotes the idea of giving the parent the full control of their child’s meal intake and activity expenditure until the child is well into recovery, and then little by little, allowing the child/patient to begin to take more responsibility for their own, healthy actions.

For those who stick out the Maudsley approach, despite the often incredibly heavy resistance from the child, the success rate is high. Higher than any other treatment method, in fact. Despite the many little differences that separate the various styles of eating disorder treatment, those which use family-based-therapy as a core component of treatment consistently see a higher success rate than those which go about treating it individually.

I move to Corvallis on Sunday. Yep, in two days. It feels almost as weird to type it out as it does to say it out loud. I have so many images and memories that flood through my head when I think about that. The last time I was getting ready to leave home and go to school, I was not in this place. Not at all. And I keep reminding myself of that whenever I begin to question or not if this is really a good idea. Because, yes – there are still moments when I’m questioning if this is a good idea. I know I’m not 100% ready. I’d say I’m probably closer to 75%. But if I don’t try it, will I ever really know? I’m very comfortable with where my life is at right now, living at home, eating what I want when I want, having my mom to keep me accountable a good majority of the time, seeing the treatment providers I’m familiar with (Dr. Rock who I’ve seen for six years), but I know I need to push myself to do something more. I also know that I want something more. As comfortable as the eating disorder is with me having the safety and security of everything remaining exactly the same, I know that’s not what the real Bridgette wants. The Bridgette Jesus created. The Bridgette that LOVES change and adventure and connections and newness. The Bridgette who loves Oregon State and football and the girls I’m going to be living with – that Bridgette is practically jumping out of her seat to drive away from Portland on Friday, and begin this new adventure.

 

Back to my appointment with Dr. Rock on Wednesday. He bet me that I’ll have to re-enter treatment in six weeks. This may sound weird to some people, but he and I have a pretty close relationship. He knows how competitive I am, and that by him making that bet with me, it’s only going to motivate me 10 times more to do the opposite.

I plan to prove him wrong. With, of course, the help of my team 🙂

Here’s to fresh starts and winning bets.

 

-Bridge

 

 

 

 

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