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.