I am adjusting to being home, and so is my body. It’s a bit tough. I’m adjusting to a bunch of things right now, as is the case for anyone who has spent a fair amount of time locked up and then returns home a free person…at last.
My life is very, very different right now than it was before I entered the hospital. My priorities are so changed that you just can’t compare.
First of all, I am not “picking up the pieces from where I left off.” Let me make this perfectly clear. I do have the same dog, my dear Puzzle, and I attend the same church down the street from where I live. And I guess I sleep in the same bed, too.
For now, I have the same apartment, but I will be requesting a floor change to another floor where I can be warmer and I hope in a quieter area. The ground floor, with all the activity, living directly above the uninsulated garage, just isn’t for me. I’m not sure how soon I’ll be requesting a transfer, but I can’t imagine I’ll wait all that long. My relapse began more or less when I moved here. It’ll be nice to get away from the memory of the days that I first moved in, collapsed on my futon bed adjacent to windows that for months and months lacked shades or curtains, and in the presence of all my spying, prying neighbors on the porches, bawled my eyes out.
Hydration, that is, getting enough water into my body, was a huge issue while I was in the hospital, and it remains an issue. In late November my doctor tested my blood and my kidney levels were way off. As time went by, it was getting more and more drastic. I could feel some very strange body sensations when I drank water. I was also beginning to get headaches. These headaches began when I started Imipramine and were increasing exponentially as my mouth dried out as well as my nose and sinuses, a side effect of the medication. My eyes and lips were entirely dry as well. I experienced intolerable thirst. No matter how much I drank it didn’t matter, I was still dehydrated. My kidneys didn’t process fluids. Had it gone on much longer, I don’t know how long, I would have damaged my kidneys and god knows what other organs. I don’t know the extent to which my electrolytes were off and I don’t know the other associated dangers but this was very serious. My blood sugar was also very, very low due to not eating anything at all. In the last couple of weeks before my hospitalization I was well aware that I was dehydrated, and in desperation I looked online to figure out how to hydrate myself without actually consuming calories. It’s not possible. Children and babies can get dehydrated and this can be very serious. I looked up government sites on what to do if your baby gets dehydrated. Both US and UK sites suggested simple remedies involving water, salt, and sugar in a very specific ratio. I watched videos showing how to slowly, slowly spoon this special hydrating solution into your baby or child. I was fascinated with these videos but would not hydrate myself with calories. This is because in my drunken, eating disordered state, I refused to nourish myself with anything that contained calories. These sites said that “sports drinks” do not replace electrolytes adequately nor do they rehydrate. There are rehydrating solutions you can buy and I saw ads for these. It was assumed, though, that dehydration happens in an emergency and no one is going to have time to buy these items.
In the hospital, getting adequate water was very, very complicated. Of course, my blood tests indicated that I was dehydrated every time I was tested for quite some time, according to the nurse practitioner that treated me. But the staff denied me water, saying that I would “water load.” Water loading is something that people with eating disorders do. Was I water loading? No, I was not. I was freaking thirsty. I was desperately thirsty. I was like a zillion, trillion Sahara Deserts thirsty. I think it took at least a week to get the water limit lifted. Meanwhile, my headaches became a daily occurrence. They even got a neurologist up there to examine me for these headaches, when all it was was simple dehydration (the nurse practitioner later verified this to me). I begged and begged and begged repeatedly and consistently for water and complained of thirst, dry mouth, dry sinuses, dry eyes, and my lips were visibly dry and extremely cracked. My voice was also hoarse for the first few days that I was there, and every morning until I received the water I requested. I believe it took a week to get the water restriction lifted.
On the final two days of my stay, for whatever reason I was unable to secure my usual water. The headaches I had on the last two days were severe and so intolerable that my entire body was affected. I am not a person who normally experiences headaches or any kind of pain, and certainly not chronic pain of any kind. I’m not used to this. It’s not surprising that when I received adequate water, I mean, a couple of glasses at least, and drank them down, my headaches would dissipate to a tolerable level.
I wasn’t exactly aware of just how dehydrated I was except in hindsight. I thought I had lost weight mysteriously. This I noticed in my face. It was extremely sunken in. I noticed it in the shower. It was a bit alarming those last couple of days because I feared that they wouldn’t let me go home. It wasn’t weight loss but probably body fluid loss of some sort. When I finally hydrated, my face returned to normal, but it took quite some time. What alarmed me further was that on the bus ride home, my foot suddenly cramped up. I couldn’t get it to uncramp. The bus was very, very crowded. I kept on trying to flex it. I had learned in the hospital that muscle cramps like the one I was experiencing, and had experienced over and over before coming into the hospital, were the result of dehydration. Then I walked into my apartment, put down my stuff, and started to make a phone call, and suddenly I got a really, really bad uncontrollable nosebleed. Thankfully, I control my own water here! I’ve been drinking steadily. Not a lot, just making a point of having some every time I wake up and not going for long periods without hydrating. I have not had a headache since coming home. My face filled back in. I had some facial swelling for whatever reason in the wee hours this morning briefly and naturally I went berserk over it, but this was very brief.
Once I stepped off the bus, I had a 24-hour period of belching. This is not a pretty subject, of course. It was an annoyance and it was easy to over-analyze it and get really, really upset over it, especially when I tasted tuna fish a zillion times over and over and over and over when I was no longer supposed to be tasting tuna fish. My mind went everywhere and I feared that I would have to miss church because the belching was yes, that bad, but it stopped in time. I over-analyzed…was it digestive? What had I eaten? Was it milk? Egg yolks? Imipramine withdrawal? The fact that I was finally salivating again? You know, saliva has enzymes in it. Saliva is powerful stuff. You take it for granted when you have it, and when you don’t have it, you run the risk of dental problems and all sorts of other nasty things such as bad breath and inconveniences and discomforts. Needless to say, I cut down on the milk and I cut down on the eggs, and I seem to have stopped belching…and I’m very happy that I’ve been off Imipramine for a week now and I am, am, am, yes, salivating again…normally.
Sleep…not. I only got home Friday. I didn’t sleep in the hospital either. Right now I’m just too excited. I’m going to give it some time. I need to settle in and be patient with myself.
Okay, you probably want to know the big question…how am I eating. I am eating well. Very. It means I’ve been picking up groceries every day. I’m trying not to let anything go to waste and I’m trying to save money and I’m trying to buy in small quantities and I’m trying to get variety, all at the same time. I’m doing really well at it so far. We’ll see what happens. Tomorrow I’m going to the coop and buying yet more groceries, just a couple of more things. Today was my third day. I’m about to prepare a snack in a little while and get some water for myself. I think I will cook some rice for tomorrow.
I have yet to weigh myself. It is unnecessary. I didn’t come home ashamed of myself. I brought a huge coat with me in case I gained an unbelievable amount of weight in the hospital. Well, I didn’t gain an unbelievable amount of weight in the hospital. Case closed.