Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Holding Steady

The good news is that once N got past that initial weight-loss, he has held steady.  We agreed upon 185 weight which is a reasonable weight for him.  He has been good about catching the bounces and not letting himself drop. 

There was a period of time where his roommate with the scale was transferred away.  It's no surprise that N assumed he was gaining tons of weight when he was actually losing.  Once we insisted that he find access to another scale, he acknowledge the weight loss and got right on top of putting the weight back on. 

He seems mentally stable and well.  He said that there have been a few struggles with OCD stuff, but I bet that is completely associated with the drops in his weight.  It would be wonderful for him to put on another 10 pounds just to give him a better buffer from sickness or something like this, but this is a liveable goal. 

He'll be home in July for just a month and then he'll be off to college.  He's been able to live independently for these past two years.  I think if we continue to have him regularly weigh himself - and be accountable to us - he'll be able to thrive without any additional relapse.  One other good thing is that some living conditions will improve upon his return home.  Also, we'll be nearby and can easily send food and/or money if needed.

My one question is about him weighing himself.  For so long, we were told not to let him do that.  But it seems to be working.  I wonder if there isn't something that I'm not considering, though.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Maintaining Weight

The good news is that N's weight is on its way up.  He is holding to his promise that he made to maintain at 185.  He did have a dip - which was evidenced by the increase in his OCD thinking and fixating on health/calories/fitness that I discussed last time.  As I could see his mental health decline, I was pretty sure he had lost more weight.  Typically, I'm not in favor of him weighing himself, but right now it is the only way to keep him honest.  I told him that I thought he had lost and asked him to weigh himself.  He did and he was down four pounds (and surprised!).  He has been actively trying to regain back up to the 185, he mentioned that it was a lot harder to get back up than he had thought.  It's good for him to recognize this because it helps him to feel like he doesn't have to be so careful.

I still have some concerns, but am heartened to see that he is still mentally stable enough to put weight back on without us by his side.  I am reassured that the spiral stopped and is no longer downward.  As long as he isn't in that spiral, I think he'll be okay until he comes home in July.  He isn't 100% either, but once the trend switched to weight gain, it felt like his mental state correspondingly improved.

He's been gone for 15 months now.  He has 9 months to go.  He didn't get transferred, but still has access to a car and it sounds like he is getting fed more often.  This morning, I mailed a lovely Halloween package, full of good, nourishing foods.  My prayers are full of requests for God's help that he might be able to stay healthy and finish his mission. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

41 Pounds or More!

Arrgh!  In last week's communication with my son, he made this statement, "My metabolism got nuked. Like, on Tuesday and Wednesday I ate an estimate of about 6000 calories each day, the following day it must have been about 4000, the next day about 3500 and the next day 3500 again.”

In that single statement, I saw evidence of counting calories and tracking them over time.  I also saw him inflating the numbers wildly like he used to do.  

So this week, I got in his face (as much as I could over email) and asked what was going on.  This was his response:  "I'll be frank with you. There have been some recent paradigm shifts in my mental processes that have been frightening and a little reminiscent of my former days. There have been a lot of things that I thought then that I am thinking again that I had forgotten I thought. So you could say it has felt a little digressive. 

That being said, while also anxious to not regress into a complete psychological vegetable and completely incapable servant of the Lord, I am not eager to return to my physical state from immediately before my mission and in H*. Both of those times were painful and frustrating, both physically and mentally. I feel like I am in a reasonably good middle area."  

What an incredibly hard spot to be in!  What do we do about this?  The good news is that transfers are happening next week.  In his mission, there are areas where the missionaries are very well-fed.  He hasn't been in one of those areas during the past 9 months.  Any of those areas would be perfect for him at this point.  So that's what we're praying for.  

He has 10 months left.  It would be best if he could finish out those last 10 months.  I don't think he is at the point where we need to bring him home.  There are several other interventions that we can do before hitting that point anyway.  But I am so worried! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

35 Pounds!

35 pounds is how much N has lost since January!  You can imagine that my panic mom-mode is way up.  If  there was one thing that I drilled into him before he left it was that he CAN'T LOSE WEIGHT!  I knew that this was an age group with a high relapse rate.  I also knew that serving a mission would remove him from his regular patterns of eating and exercising.  I knew he had to be so careful.  So did he. 

He left on his mission a year ago, probably with 30 or 40 extra pounds on him.  But, of course, we didn't know if he could lose ANY weight at all without triggering the mental symptoms of anorexia.  We had a very terse conversation via email on Monday.  I *think* that there is not a resurgence of restricting, ocd, or anxiety symptoms, but it is so hard to be sure without living and interacting with him.  My sense is the combination of being on a bike all day long, relying on church members for meals, and all the exercise programs that have been thrown into his routine have resulted in a slow (and not necessarily deliberate) loss of weight. 

He promised me that he would make sure that he doesn't lose any more weight.  And I told him that I would hold him to that promise.  I shipped a huge box of groceries to his apartment last week.  He was also recently shifted to a new area and given a car - so he isn't on a bike as much as he was.  Will it be enough?  I'm not sure, now that he has probably erased his weight buffer. 

As I mentioned previously, this is an area where the missionaries typically gain weight.  He didn't lose any weight during the initial 6 months of his mission, but he was primarily using a car.  So, I really hope shifting him to a car will help stop the weight loss.

I'm having to trust him right now - that there isn't any mental involvement.  But can I trust him?  I know that his own perception of reality was so altered when he was previously sick.  I don't know.  I'm going to give him a month or two.  If he is able to keep his word and stop losing weight, I'll feel much better.  But if the weight loss continues, I'll be contacting his Mission President. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Biking and Cross Fit and Basketball?

In my last post, I mentioned my worries of N moving to an area where he bikes all day and the impact that would have on his calorie needs.  He has since told us that he his Zone Leaders (two missionaries just like himself) have added a daily unifying activity where the zone gets together and does cross fit.  Add that to their already weekly activity of playing basketball and my mom-worry-monitor is starting to beep.

I can see from his pictures that he has lost some weight.  I keep checking in, asking about his feelings of wanting to restrict.  He assures me that he is fine and is compensating calorically.  I know that his Mission President is aware of his medical needs, but of course these other missionary leaders are not - and we prefer it that way (too much chance for misunderstanding).  If things get bad enough, though, he can mention to these young missionary leaders that he can't lose weight due to a medical condition. That might raise some eyebrows, but would be an adequate reason for him to not participate.

The good news is that change is inevitable on a mission.  Transfers are coming the last week of February and the biggest exerciser of the bunch will be heading home.  I just mailed N a bulk box of Carnation Instant Breakfast.  I know he'll use that when he is in a hurry and might not otherwise eat.  It's a good high calorie and protein addition to his diet.  (When he was really sick, I used to add cream to it instead of milk)

Hopefully there won't be too much damage done by the end of this month.  I know there is a fine line where symptoms might start to ramp up and it becomes much more difficult for N to manage living independently.  Traditionally missionaries gain weight in this area.  So hopefully some weight recovery is in store.  Until then, I might be worrying a bit.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

On the Border of Texas

N is just about to the six-month mark of  his mission experience (out of two years).  He has been in south Texas, living just six miles from the border of Mexico, since September.  We've missed him like crazy.  He is learning a lot about living with all types of people.  He is also learning to be independent and take care of  himself.  It has been really hard at times, but he has been able to figure it out. 

He speaks Spanish fluently now.  I can't believe it!  He took three years of German in high school and didn't know any Spanish when he left.  When he skyped at Christmas, N and his dad spent the first 10 minutes or so speaking only in Spanish.

We get an email from him once a week.  I scrutinize every picture that he sends home for weight-loss.  He was just moved to an area where they bike everywhere they go.  He'll need to make up for that additional calorie loss.  I'm so glad to know that he has some extra weight on him.  It just means that he will have a chance to make adjustments before any issues with relapse appear.  We check in with him often to see if he has had any feelings of restriction.  He has.  But he said that he knows that the way to deal with that is to make sure that he has full nutrition.  He even let his exercise/food-obsessed companion know that they could NOT skip lunch. 

He is teaching a lot of people.  He is serving the communities there in Texas and making a difference.   What an amazing experience!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mexico City

Well, he's off.

It was so hard -- harder than I thought it would be to say goodbye for two years.  We'll get weekly letters and/or emails.  We get to Skype with him on Mother's Day and Christmas.  No phone calls or visits.  That all helps him to not be so homesick and instead focus on his work (instead of what is happening at home).  We're a close family.  I'm grateful that it was hard - it means we love each other.  A lot.

I've worried for a long time (see many previous posts) about how N would do with the stress of a mission.  The doctors all cleared him for service.  They all served missions, themselves, so they know what is involved.  We've prepped him for every possible trigger that I could imagine.  We've reviewed and discussed the importance of eating well over and over and over.

N has been gone for three weeks now.  All indications are that he is doing just fine.  Right now,  he is in Mexico City undergoing intensive language training as he tries to learn Spanish.  He has a cafeteria, a set meal schedule and set activity times.  It's a good setup for him.  After six weeks, he'll transfer to the border of Texas.  Then he'll fix his own meals and set his own eating schedule.  That's where I'll worry a little more.  But, he'll always have a companion by his side.

I pray every day for him - that he'll be happy and well.  I'm proud of all of his hard work, preparation and desire to teach people about Jesus Christ, forgiveness and forever families.  I wonder how his struggles with anorexia will affect his ability to teach.  I suspect that he will be more compassionate and kind.

Today, is his preparation day - the day he gets to email home.  I'm so excited to hear from him!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mission Call

N received his mission call last week.  He'll be headed to South Texas (below San Antonio and all the way to the Mexico border) for the next two years.  First, though, he'll be attending an intensive language program in order to learn Spanish for 6 weeks in Mexico City. We're all so excited!

He could have been assigned any where in the world.  But South Texas is really a good call for him.  I've been researching the area extensively.  Though it will be HOT! and he will be biking a lot, the missionaries there tend to gain weight rather than loose it.  That's a huge relief for me!  I've worried about the many stories of weight-loss associated with missionary work because of the often scarce or unusual food and long walking hours.  I'm so grateful that those who assigned his call, prayerfully took into consideration his past medical history.  His supervisor (President) will be aware of N's past medical history with anorexia.  He and his wife will regularly assess N's health and needs.  He'll also have another missionary (his "companion") with him at all times.  It's a good fit.

Not quite half of his mission area shares a border with Mexico (along the Rio Grande).  So, he'll get to eat great Mexican food (which he already loves).  He's also excited to learn Spanish.  He took three years of German, so it's a bit of a switch.  My husband speaks Spanish fluently so he is already teaching N and it seems as if N also has an aptitude for language.

I'm so grateful that we'll be able to use the US domestic mail service which is much more reliable and quick than international mail.  That means we can send him food overnight, if needed. 

There is a lot that has to happen to get him ready.   But first, we've got to get him graduated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 2014 Update

It's been a whirlwind of a year!  I can't believe N is just a short month shy of graduation!  He'll graduate with a 3.5 GPA that is peppered with both good and bad grades.  He ended up getting involved with the Poetry Club, editing an online literary journal, getting several poems published, performing as lead singer with a rock band as well as an a'Capella group, passing several AP tests, and earning an academic scholarship.  He was able to get into the college of his choice.  He has a great group of friends that have gathered him right in.  He is currently applying for additional scholarships, planning his prom date, fighting senioritis, and waiting for his mission call.  He has come so far! 

I am so grateful to many of you readers, as well as all of the parents at Around The Dinner Table for his success and healing.  I'm convinced that N wouldn't be where he is today if it weren't for the loving guidance and support that you have given to us.  He has gone several years now without any problems.  Amazing!

About his mission:  In order to apply as a missionary, he had to have extensive doctor and dental visits as well as extensive documentation of his anorexia.  Most missionaries are able to quickly check off a form indicating that they are healthy and well.  But because of N's history, we also had to fill out pages and pages of information about the anorexia, depression, OCD and anxiety.  His doctor indicated that he didn't think N's past struggles with anorexia would prevent him from being fully able to serve.  So a little more than two weeks ago, those mission papers were turned in. 

That means sometime this summer, N will leave home for two years.  He'll be able to call home only four times during those two years, but he will be able to email weekly.  There will be medical staff and supervision who are aware of N's past issues.  He'll have a companion that will always be with him - even for meals.  So if there are issues, we should know about them quickly.  And if it's too much stress or if the anxiety returns, he'll come home.  You can imagine that we'll be missing him and praying like crazy.  He'll miss us, I'm sure.  But he will be busy serving others and teaching about Jesus Christ.  He could go anywhere in the world.  We're going crazy waiting to find out where.

His call could come tomorrow -- or in a week.  I'll post when I know. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 2013 Update

N just began his senior year!  I can't believe it.

He continues to do really well.  He is driving and dating.  He is busy with a part-time job, 3 AP classes, publishing some of his poetry, and being part of the high school's top choir.  He's been brave lately - trying out for the choir as well as some solos, asserting himself and speaking up in class, and letting go of some friends that had been dragging him down

It was a rough semester when he switched friends.  He spent a lot of lunches eating by himself.  Now, though, a new group of really good kids have pulled him in.  He talks about how much better he likes being with this new group.  N is such a good kid and I can tell that these kids really like him, too.

There haven't been any issues with anorexia at all.  I took him shopping for jeans for the school year without incident.  He is really busy and I've seen a few sack lunches come back uneaten.  In every case, he has had a legitimate reason.  I'm so quick to remind him that he can't skip meals.  EVER.

I need to teach him how to eat while on the run.  He is often late leaving  for school, which means he just grabs a yogurt.  If he isn't home for dinner, he isn't good about warming up what we had.  He'll snack like crazy instead.  That probably isn't a good pattern either.  Soon he'll be responsible for his own meals.  He has to be ready or he'll set  himself up for a potentially relapse.   He knows how to cook, but it isn't always convenient to put an entire meal together, but it has to be a priority.   Most of the time, we still eat together as a family, but it's these little glimpses of his independent eating that have me a little worried.   I've still got this year to teach him and help him put better patterns in place.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 2012 Update

Well, we survived the summer.  It was good for N to have a hard job and to learn that he can work.  He earned some money to save and some to spend.  School continues to improve.  He got all Bs and one A on his last report card.  He is a Junior in high school now and he is starting to think about college.  He took his ACT test last week with hopes that his scores would reflect his smarts.

We've had a slight change in his future plans.  I've talked before about N wanting to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Last month an announcement was made which changed the minimum age from 19 to 18.  N has informed us that he fully intends to go when he is 18 now.  The original plan had been to do one year at college and then leave for two years on a mission.  I liked the idea of that first year at college.  I suspect that he would attend locally.  We would insist that he live on his own, but we would still be able to check up on him regularly (especially if he went where his dad is a professor).  I felt like that year on his own would help us determine if he would be able to handle the stresses and independence of a mission.  Now that one year buffer is potentially gone.  We'll need to talk about a lot of these details with his religious leaders and doctors.   He doesn't have to go at 18.  He can still wait until he is 19 or older, if needed.  But he wants to go as soon as possible. 

He continues to thrive emotionally and physically.  We did have one really bad 30 minutes just about two weeks ago.  N saw a recent picture of himself on the computer slideshow.  I've always kept the picture folder that the screensaver accesses dated back a few years because this was a problem in the past.  I thought it would be fine now, but I was wrong.  He saw a picture that made him look "fat" and he refused to eat dinner.  It was on a casual eating night where we hadn't been able to eat as a family.  I think he thought I wouldn't notice, but I watch carefully and did notice.  He threw up all sorts of refusal arguments - completely dredged up from his past issues with anorexia.  Finally, I said that if he refused, I would go right back to a magic plate (a plate that I completely prepare) and sit with him until he ate.  He also knows from past experience, that I was completely serious.  He backed down and ate.  I could see that it was an emotional release once he let go.

After he ate, we talked about the danger of what just happened.  I always say that he can't EVER skip a meal, which he insists that he understands.  However, in that moment, he was able to see the realities of where he was headed.  To stop it, he had to eat.  He has to remember that for his whole life!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 2012 Update

Is it possible for N to continue to improve?  I continue to see his anxiety and depression reduce.  He still has hiccups, but they come less and less frequently.  He got his driver's license last month.  His first trip in the car afterwards was to visit a cute girl (so brave of him!).  And last night there were two cute girls sitting on our porch with him.  Even N's younger, 14 year-old brother said, "I'm so proud!"  Both of these things, while they might seem silly, are actually demonstrations of N's reduced anxiety. 

We've had two suicides here recently.  One was a close friend of N's brother.  We held our breath through both, but N seemed to be fine. 

I mentioned a long time ago about some struggles that N's brother, J, was having.  He ended up getting worse before he got better, but now he just seems so normal  We must have a tendency towards some OCD behaviors in our family.  But I feel like we dodged a bullet with J because of our extensive education on all things eating-disorders and OCD.

We have another little boy in our home.  IB is 6 years old.  He was born right before N got sick.  N and IB are so similar.  I can already see immense amounts of anxiety in this little brother.  I've learned how to handle it better, but it doesn't necessarily fix it.   Strangely, I find some relief in knowing that.  If I could have a do-over with N, there are a million things I would do differently.  But this just shows me that doing those things differently still may not have changed the outcome. 

N just started his first full-time job today.  He'll be doing hard physical work.  My new challenge is to help him to apply regular eating appropriate to his workday.  I'll also need to help him adjust his breakfasts and lunches in order to provide him the energy he needs (and so that he won't lose weight).