Refeeding Edema–Photograph

Here is a photograph of my ankles.  I am a person with anorexia who has been eating normally for maybe a month after a period of starvation.  I am underweight.  Then, suddenly, my weight jumped up about 10 pounds in 18 days.  I have been told that I have refeeding edema.  This is the way my ankles look right now at this moment.  They have been worse than this.  In general, my shoes feel uncomfortable and tight.  I can’t lace them properly.  I am a runner and my running has slowed from 11 min/mile or faster to 12 min/mile, probably slower.  This morning, although the edema didn’t make it impossible to get my shoes on okay, my feet were uncomfortable in them, and if this edema gets worse, I will not be able to run.  This evening my shoes were very uncomfortable and I had to shorten my dog’s walk.  Here is the photo:

Refeeding Edema, 4/30/2011

Depression, part zillion

Today was the third full day of really bad depression for me.  I woke up with it and it’s been with me all day.  This is not “anorexia recovery”!  This is bullshit!

I have very few comforts right now.  When I was out walking Puzzle, I had trouble with my feet because of the refeeding edema.  My shoes didn’t fit properly and I had to loosen them in the middle of our walk.  Still, they didn’t fit right.

I have found comfort in my old friend, starvation.  I am not starving myself too badly right now.  Just stopping by to leave off something I don’t want–extra weight.  My choice is to be gaining weight rapidly and uncomfortably and feel miserable, depressed, hopeless, and full of self-loathing, or be thin, reasonably happy, alive, and not suicidal.  It’s a no-brainer.   I’m doing this for my own survival.

My therapist did send me an e-mail back after I e-mailed her saying I was “vacationing” and wouldn’t be there Monday.  She doesn’t suspect anything.  She didn’t ask me where I was or how long I’d be or if I wanted to reschedule of if I’d show on Thursday.  On Monday, I’ll write to her and tell her I won’t be in on Thursday.

“False recovery….”  No thanks.  Goodbye.

My "vacation" Day One this is how it's going at 3pm

3pm-my ankles are still swollen.  I have cut out a total of 230 calories so far from what I normally eat up till now.  By the end of the day, it will be another 120, total 340. I was starving this morning @9am even though I had eaten after PZ’s walk.  I kept myself busy until lunch.  I didn’t feel up to walking to the supermarket today.  Too depressed I guess, so I walked to the convenience store and bought diet cola–my friend–like the old days. Or maybe I was just too hungry to walk anywhere.  I walked to the track, walked a mile, ran 1.75, walked .25, walked home, walked PZ a mile, and walked a mile (total round trip, that is) to the convenience store and back–total 7 miles so far today.

Knowing my luck, my weight will probably still go up, up, up.  It is my body’s fate right now.

This is ridiculous.  I shouldn’t be telling you these things.  I should keep it to myself.  It is none of your business.

My "vacation"

Yes, I am taking a vacation.  From therapy.  I have had it.  I snapped.  This morning.  I stepped on the scale and was 2-1/2 pounds heavier than I was yesterday.  As someone with anorexia, I find this devastating, especially since I am doing nothing to cause this to happen.  I am barely eating enough to maintain my weight.  I have been told that I am doing “all the right things” by my treatment team to “move toward recovery.”

Well, this is bullshit.  I hate my body and I hate myself.  This is not recovery.   Now, I desperately want to lose this weight, and I intend to do so.  I have been so depressed over the past three days that I can barely move.  I am stuck in paralysis and a thickness in the air.  Running was incredibly difficult this morning, and I stopped after seven laps even though I want so much to lose the ten pounds I have gained in eighteen days.  This is about as fast as they made me gain it at the ED hospital.  My running speed has slowed to what I believe is under a 12-minute mile! I was running an 11-minute mile not long ago and could sustain a 10-1/2 minute mile for about a mile if I pushed myself.  I suspect that this is because of the weight gain but I’m not sure.  It could be–believe it or not–because of depression.

I am vacationing–yes, in world called depression.  This weight gain is not worth the depression I feel, the sluggishness, and the loss of the bounce in my step over the past three days.  I want my joy back.  The only way I can do this is to lose the weight.  Then I will feel much, much better.  I think the moment of realization was when I glanced in the mirror and saw, for the first time, my round, round face.  It was then that I knew that I had to do something.  Now.

I am taking a vacation from therapy.  I’ve decided that I can’t deal with it right now.  No weigh-ins, either.  I don’t have one scheduled and I have no intentions of doing so.  It happens that I don’t see my psychiatrist until the end of June.  Fine.

Sorry.  I don’t mean to let folks down.  I need to do what I need to do.  If I am going to gain this weight, I’ll gain it slowly, not suddenly. Not 10 pounds in 18 days.  No thanks.

Refeeding Edema

My doctor says the swelling in my ankles is “refeeding edema.”  This was seen in Holocaust survivors especially, who were starved, and then ate again.  Their bodies, my doctor explained, soaked up the nutrients, and swelled up.  That is what is happening to me.  But she said it is nothing to be alarmed about and that it is not dangerous because I have a strong heart.  She said if I was 85 and had congestive heart failure, then ankle swelling would be something to worry about, but I do not have to worry.  She said the refeeding edema will go away if I keep eating and drinking.  She said that starving myself again will make it worse.  She said that it is actually a sign that I am doing all the right things, and that I should keep it up, and not be alarmed about the weight gain.  It is actually “water weight” and not “fat,” she explained, just water in my tissues.

Later, I cried on the bus.  This is another way to make water in tissues.  You know, I have heard many women use the line, “It’s just ‘water weight’!” to explain weight gain.  Well, now it’s a true thing for me and I have never experienced this before.  I gained five and a half pounds in a week on my doctor’s scale.  I cried in her office and told her I’ve been crying over this for two days.

Actually, I’ve been practically non-functional for two days because of my feelings about my weight going up.  I cannot tolerate these feelings.  I cannot accept myself, my self-loathing, my hatred toward my body that has cheated me so much.

Yet it begs to be fed–all the time.  I cannot simply stop eating.  I can’t just feed it once and then say, “That’s a done deal.”  It’s like laundry.  Neverending.  It’s like a cycle of input and output all day long and all night long, too.  It’s what I have to do–fuel up–to keep this engine running 24 hours a day until someday–I don’t know when–it decides it’s time to sputter and crumble and roll into its final parking place.

On the ninth day…I rested….

After eight days of running, I took a day off to think about things.  I was mad and upset today.  I am a recovering anorexic just starting to eat again after a period of starvation.  It is hard to cope with my body right now.  I am eating healthy and exercising a lot, and it feels like my body is betraying me.  I have gained a half pound a day for the past week.  I actually watched the scale go up.

My T and I talked about this.  No, the first thing out of her mouth was not “Don’t weigh yourself, Julie.”  We talked about how the body replenishes.  She likened what my body is doing to  what a desert does when it soaks up rain water.  She said all my organs were soaking up nutrients from the food I am putting into me.  I told her that according to every chart on the Internet that I could find, there was no way that I should be gaining a half pound a day, or any pounds at all,  given what I am eating.  Actually, I would probably lose weight under ordinary circumstances, or if I am lucky, break even.  But my therapist pointed out that the “charts” on the Internet don’t take into account the fact that I starved myself for so long, and that I am now starting to eat.

I think what really got to me this morning, and last night, was that my ankles are ridiculously swollen.  My T says that this is because I was starved for so long, and ankle-swelling, apparently, is common among people with ED’s.  I guess it’s a by-product of having starved myself.  My T says it’s “fluid retention” and not fat on my ankles.  That’s nice to know.  But the fat ankles make me feel fat, and I associate them with the dreaded Massive Weight Gain.

So today I got mad at my body for betraying me.  I got mad at my body for making me feel out of control and scaring me.  I felt like I hated my body and wanted to punish it for doing what it was doing to me.

My body, in turn, thanked me for eating right.  It thanked me for not abusing it any longer.  It thanked me for taking pride in it and caring for it finally.  And it also requested more sleep.

So the dialogue went on between my body and me, there in my therapist’s office, back and forth, until I realized that I am doing exactly what my body needs me to do–I am feeding it and caring for it lovingly and kindly.  I am not feeding it too much, and it would be stupid to cut down on my food at this point.  Why punish my body for soaking up the nutrients I give it?  Why punish my body for doing what it needs to do to survive?  Why call my body “fat” and “ugly” when these are demeaning terms that I would not call anyone else?  I would not want to hurt anyone I love and care for–why hurt my body?

So…I am sad today.  Tomorrow will probably be a better day.

I have signed up for my next 5k!

I have signed up for my next 5k!  It will be the Larry Kessler 5k in Boston on June 5, 2011.  The run is to benefit the AIDS Action Committee, and is part of the 10k AIDS Walk.  These are annual events.  The run goes along the Charles River, and begins at 9:50.

It was not as nerve-wracking signing up for this 5k as it was signing up for my first 5k, the Winter Classic, which took place last December.  I already know what a race is like, since I have done one now.  This will be a much bigger race, I think.  I have a personal donation page, but I don’t think I’ll post the URL here.  Or maybe I will.  It is a private page.  I have a personal blog there that is like this blog that talks about my running progress and about AIDS.

I have overdone it over the past eight days since getting over the infection from the infected tooth.  I put in 72-1/2 miles on my new running shoes in those eight days.  Forty-three percent of that was running and the rest was walking.  Imagine that.  I have run five miles every other day, and three or so every day off.  And I haven’t had enough sleep.  It’s the sleep thing that’s the clincher.  I need to sleep.  Very much so.

It seems that I can’t stop exercising.  It’s like I feel compelled to get to the track at the crack of dawn.  I leave the house so that I arrive at the track just as it’s light enough to run.  This means exiting my apartment at around 5:10 on a clear morning, which means getting up at 4:10.  It’ll be much earlier as spring progresses.  This is scary.  A couple of times, I’ve woken up at 2:30am and stayed up.  When I go to the gym, I wake up at 3:35 and leave the house at 4:35 to get to the gym when they open at 5.  Isn’t this a bit much?  Last night, our washing machine malfunctioned and I was up past 11.  Well past 11.  Maybe 11:45.  And then woke up at 4:10.  So you see where this is headed.  Pure exhaustion.  And I’m going to get injured if this keeps up.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a race coming up.  I’ve got to train well.  Training well means taking care of my body, getting enough sleep, eating well, and knowing when enough is enough.

Okay, enough was enough today.  I admit it.  Tomorrow, rest.  I promise.

My running is improving

I ran five miles again today.  It wasn’t hard.  It very well may have been 5.25.  When I got to three laps, there was a possibility that it may only have been two, so I added a lap at the end, making the total 21, or possibly 20, depending.

Life is good.  The weather is fabulous.

I am getting stronger.
I can run faster.
I can run farther.
My weight is improving.
My eating is improving.
I am taking better care of myself.
I have a life filled with love and goodness.
I look to the future with hope in my eyes, and joy in my heart.

Frank and I will have our cupcake party soon.  And celebrate.  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Easter

What happened at the gym today

Okay, here’s a fact: I have to increase my food.  Not a lot.  Just some.  If I’m going to run five miles, I can’t keep eating what I’m eating and expect to have enough energy.  Period.

First of all, I have to eat after I run.  How could I have been so stupid to have forgotten this yesterday?  I guess I was preoccupied with Puzzle’s walk, so I forgot.  I have no record of having had anything except for a little milk, either that or I forgot to write down what I ate.  That is not enough.  The trainer at the gym told me I should EAT something after a workout.  So did Frank.  So I’m going to make a point of remembering this.  Especially now that I plan to increase my distance.  And I need to drink water or Gatorade, too.

Today when I work up I was a little sore from yesterday’s extra seven laps, so I didn’t know how today’s run would go.  I was still congested from this bacterial tooth infection thingy I’ve been dealing with for over a week now.  That and I’m reasonably certain–now–that I didn’t eat enough yesterday.  I really, really, really need to eat after I run from now on.  I have been so lazy.

So this is what happened at the gym.  I walked 1/4 mile at a good clip, then ran 2-1/4.  I ran well and with confidence for the most part, and I was not sore or weak in my legs.  But I found that my body was fatigued quickly, so I stopped running and walked 1/2 mile, making it three miles total (this took just under 38 minutes–I’m proud of my timing here).  When I got off the treadmill, I didn’t feel right.  I knew I needed water right away.  I drank two bottles of water from the water fountain, the first quickly, the second over a longer period, and stretched.  I still didn’t feel right.  Not at all.
I purchased some Gatorade.  I went to the drugstore, and purchased a packet of six cracker sandwiches.  I figured I needed the salt.  I ate the crackers at the supermarket, seated on a bench, and washed them down with a little of the Gatorade.  I went grocery shopping, feeling tons better, but not 100%.  I felt okay to go home with fluids and food in me.

I ate when I got home.  Then, later, I ate lunch.  I am going to put salt in my food on warmer days and when I go to the gym, where I run in a 70-degree environment.  Maybe I’ll salt my food all the time.  I feel like I definitely have enough food in me now, but I still don’t feel 100%.

One of the things I purchased was a carton of eggs.  I boiled them up a little while ago.  I am going to have an egg every day.  This will be one of the foods I eat in addition to all the other food I have, an added bit of protein.  This I will eat when I get home from running.  I don’t know what else I’ll have at that time.  I was told by a nutritionist that I can eat as many eggs as I want, several a day even, and they will not raise my cholesterol one bit.  She said what raises it is saturated fats.

So tomorrow’s run will be better.  I will feed myself better and better and be a stronger, faster runner.  I am already improving.  Let’s see how well I can do.  Let’s see if I can prove myself…to the world.

My experiences with food for running

My sense is that there are some “universal” foods that runners swear by: bananas, orange juice, peanut butter on a slice of bread, grape juice, low-sugar granola bars, and let us not forget water.  I have played around with various combinations of these foods and have found that they work well.  They give me instant energy but also keep me going over the long haul.  They are not overly filling, so my stomach doesn’t bother me while I run.  Most people like to eat about an hour before they run.  For me, I like to eat either a half hour or 15 minutes before I leave the house, and this gives me enough time to walk to the gym or the track and get ready to run, and by the time I’m actually running, it’s been an hour after I’ve eaten.  I don’t like to run after lunch, and have never mastered this.  I am only able to run after my usual breakfast of “running food.”

But…I don’t eat those usual running foods anymore.  My latest foods for morning running are these: rice with sesame oil, 12 oz milk, and 1/2 cup orange juice.  I use white rice.  Why this works I don’t know, but I eat it every morning before I run, and my runs have never been better.  Also, I eat a small potato and a fair quantity of cooked broccoli as a bedtime snack.  I do not add butter or margarine to my potato or broccoli, nor do I add salt or seasoning.  I am afraid that if I do so, it will interfere with my sleep.

So I guess I’m unconventional.  But this works for me.  Plenty of people in many countries around the world eat rice for breakfast.  Rice is very inexpensive and easy to cook.

This morning, I ran five miles on white rice with sesame oil, OJ, and milk.  I have never felt stronger.  This is the farthest I have ever run, ever.   I’m going to keep doing what I am doing–keep on eating healthy, take good care of myself, be strong and fit and giving and kind and loving and………get ready for my next 5k.