“This is the only time I really feel alive.”
I’m doing better again this morning, thanks be to Christ. Last night was a rough one.
I did exactly what I said I was going to do - I stopped writing, lay down in my bed, and watched Sons of Butcher’s Cross Canada Tour on YouTube, for over an hour. It cheered me up, distracted me from my swollen and painful stomach, and kept me here another day.
I had trouble falling asleep again last night, though I am starting to suspect that I may know the reasons why. A) Nine Inch Nails is not really falling-asleep-to music, and B) if I think about the tattoos I am going to get when I get out of here, I get so excited that instead of sleeping, I just lay there vibrating for hours on end. So I am going to have to confine those two favorite things to only during the day, methinks.
Anyway, guess what? No really, guess. What’s something that absolutely none of the anorexic girls here want, but is inevitable and is the cross we must bear? And no, it’s not weight gain.
Another new girl! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Except this one doesn’t really seem to be on board, per se. Kitty is very unhappy with her current living situation, here on Ward 32. It was everything the nurses could do just to get her to come and sit in the Group Room with us, let alone eat anything. Which she did not.
It’s kinda funny, I thought as I watched her, curled into herself at the breakfast table, moaning softly. Yes, she’s thin, but she’s no Auschwitz-the-Lifer, who is quite literally a walking skeleton. Yet this is Kitty’s fifth hospitalization, and only the first time for Auschwitz-the-Lifer.
How is that possible? I wondered. Auschwitz-the-Lifer is the sickest girl I have ever seen, just like my anorexic angel tattoo - her body has been forced to eat away at her muscles after it ran out of fat to live off of, since she gave it no other source of energy but her own tissues. How has she not been hospitalized before now?
Breakfast ended up going well this morning - for me, anyway. I was given two single serving boxes of Rice Krispies (which together don’t even make one serving, in my opinion) and two cups of vanilla soy milk. Despite being seated next to Leave-Me-The Fuck-Alone Kitty, I calmly ate my two boxes of Rice Krispies in, oh, say, less than two minutes. It was seriously like five mouthfuls per serving. Just stupid.
So when I was done, I went to the Extras cupboard, and helped myself to another box of Rice Krispies and a box of All Bran, which I mixed together (tee hee!) and devoured.
I still didn’t feel full - I always eat lot of cereal, because it is low fat and I am comfortable having it in my body - but I decided to have a cup of tea, and see if I felt the same after that. Sweet Aussie Sue was up at the counter and looked up inquiringly when I arrived next to her, so I explained to her what I was doing.
“I’m going to have a cup of tea first, and if I’m still hungry after that, then I’ll have another Extra.”
“I think that’s a really good idea, Kage,” she said, smiling supportively.
I love Sweet Aussie Sue. She’s so sweet and...Aussie.
Shut up. I’m tired.
I sat and drank my cup of tea, and then sat back and asked myself, Are you still hungry?
Yup, I replied.
NO! screamed Ed.
Fuck you. I win, I thought, and I got up to go to the Extras cupboard.
Sweet Aussie Sue looked up. “Kage, I just want to check in with you,” she said from her spot at the table, beside Pissy Kitty. “You doing okay?”
Good woman! Keeping her word of checking in to keep me focused, but not risking her life and/or limbs in any way by trying to stop me.
“Yup,” I answered honestly. “I’m still hungry.”
“Okay,” she said, and turned back to trying to get Pissy Kitty to eat one, just one spoonful of Rice Krispies (she wouldn’t).
I served myself a bowl of granola, and ate it as slowly as I could. I still wanted more when I was done, but I just sat at the table and battled the raging need inside of me until the time was up, and Breakfast was over.
I did it! I thought.
I mean, yes, I did have two extra boxes of Rice Krispies and a bowl of granola. But the two Rice Krispies only equal one serving to me, so in my mind, I had two Extras and ate till I was full. And then I stopped.
Stopped very reluctantly, yes, but whatever. I still stopped.
We had Group right after breakfast this morning, since it is Saturday. It was kinda boring, we just said what we were going to do over the weekend with our endless expanses of spare time, and what we were NOT going to do over the weekend with our endless expanses of spare time (bingeing, purging, cutting, going downstairs to pediatrics to perform the odd bris, etc.). I was having trouble staying awake for this Group, and as soon as we were released, I came back to the dorm room and passed out again.
Sweetface woke me up for Morning Snack. As we piled into the Group Room, I noticed that both Kitty and Aschwitz-the-Lifer were missing.
So what? I'm not their Mum, I thought. Now what’s for snackies?!
A banana and a Nutrigrain bar! Delicious.
I sat down in front of my food, and saw that someone had left a piece of paper on the table. Nosily, I picked it up. It was a menu selection sheet, and it had Boy Ana’s name on it.
It was for today’s food selection.
“What dat?” I asked through a mouthful of banana, shoving the paper towards the centre of the table so the other girls could see. “It has Boy Ana’s name on it. Is he still here or something?”
“Yeah,” FuBu replied from the back of the table, lifting her spoon of Rice Pudding (ugh) to her mouth and spilling most of it down her front. “He’s really, really sick.”
“Like...mentally?” I asked. I already knew that.
“No, like there’s something growing on his brain,” she replied, lifting her spoon of Rice Pudding and spilling again. I considered offering to help feed her, but decided against it. “He’s got a team of like five doctors working on him now.”
Ooops. Suddenly I felt bad for thinking Boy Ana was such a pain in the ass, even though he WAS. Maybe that explained everything? I wondered to myself. Maybe he had no control over his actions, cuz he's got a tumor on his mind (ha ha! On his mind! Get it? Get it?)
I suddenly felt relieved that I had never joined in the Boy Ana bashing during Group, tempting though it may have been.
The door suddenly opened, and Aschwitz-the-Lifer breezed in with a big smile. “Sorry I’m late,” she gushed, and sat down at the table.
“You can’t be late for Snack time, hon,” Lovely Aussie Sue told her.
Auschwitz just shrugged and pulled her already-receded lips back to smile her skull at us. “Sorry, I have family visiting, and - “
“It doesn’t matter,” Lovely Aussie Sue said firmly. “Now you only have ten minutes to eat your snack.”
Coincidence? Methinks NOT.
I didn’t write very much last night cuz I was in such a shirty mood, but here’s a good little diddy for ya, that I just cannot leave out.
Mum and Dad (and Moo!) were here visiting in the evening. We were sitting in the squishy chairs directly outside the Group Room, when Mum suddenly sat up in her chair and poked me in the leg.
“What’s that door down there, in the middle of the corridor?” she asked. “Is that a bathroom?”
“Which door?” I asked.
“The one the orderly is standing by,” she said excitedly.
“Yeah it is," I shrugged. "Why?”
“Because that blond girl is in there! And she’s been in there for a long time, all by herself.”
Reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally, thought I.
We watched together for another minute, our breaths held. Even Dad couldn't help but look.
Sure enough, a moment later the bathroom door opened, and Auschwitz-the-Lifer emerged, alone.
We all sat back quickly and looked around, trying to appear busy.
“Huh,” I said.
“What are you going to do?” Mum asked, all aflap. “Will you tell on her?”
Ummmmmm. Good question. I had to stop and think about that one. What was the right thing to do?
I really didn’t know.
“No, Mum, I don’t think I will,” I said slowly. “If she’s purging, they’ll know from her blood work, so they don’t need me to tell them that. Besides, I gotta live with her for the next month.”
Mum just nodded, and we watched Auschwitz-the-Lifer scurry away down the hall.
So that was last night. Back in the Group room in this morning, I sat and considered the food before me. Since I was still full from breakfast, and since this was a fairly hefty snack that also included the cup of tea I just got, PLUS we would only have an hour and a half to wait until lunchtime, I considered eating only what was on the table in front of me.
NO NO NO! MORE MORE MORE! screamed my eating disorder.
Get BENT, Dick Nuts, I thought, and snorted into my styrofoam cup.
(Ricky Butcher, from the t.v. show Sons of Butcher, calls someone Dick Nuts at least five times per episode. I have no idea why, or even what it means, but I fucking love it).
Ed was fighting hard for more food, MORE FOOD, but I fought back just as hard (NO, DICK NUTS). I sipped my tea slowly, trying to keep my hands and mouth busy for the remaining five minutes of alloted Snack time.
Finally, mercifully, it came to an end.
Wow! I grinned to myself, as I threw away the banana peel, Nutrigrain wrapper and styrofoam cup, but nothing else. I did it! Again!
Interesting afternoon so far, which I wasn’t really expecting, for whatever reason.
It was decided that since we only had one girl on ‘modified’ today, we would be our eating our lunches in the hospital cafeteria. But not the lunches the Program gives us every day.
We were going to pick out our own lunches, from the cafeteria menu.
FUCK! I thought to myself. I’m dead.
I was very apprehensive. Did they really want to take this desperate bulimic downstairs, place her before an endless selection of food, and give her a voucher for however much food she wants?
Are you fucking retarded? I wanted to scream.
Lovely Aussie Sue held a quick Group meeting before we left, and after the other girls had confessed to wanting to cheat by getting too little food, I told them what I was thinking.
“Okay,” Lovey Aussie Sue said. “So most of the girls need to be careful to select enough food. Each of you, be sure to get get one protein and one carb. Kage, you have the opposite challenge, which is to take only enough food to satisfy your hunger, but no more.”
Eek. The most challenging part was that I would have to have it all figured out before I sat down to eat - there was no going back for Extras in the cafeteria. And if you selected an Extra when you got your lunch, you had to finish it to completion, or it was Ensure! for you.
I ended up doing alright - or so I initially thought. I got a veggie burger with mustard, tomato, lettuce and onion, then a chicken and spinach salad with half a hard-boiled egg, and a fruit cup for dessert.
As I waited with the others for Auschwitz-the-Lifer and Lovely Aussie Sue to emerge from the checkout, I surveyed my choices and thought, I am comfortable with this food.
Ten fecking minutes later, I thought, I am comfortable with this food that is now COLD.
Auschwitz-the-Lifer just could not make up her mind. Lovely Aussie Sue was at her side and trying to encourage her, but ended up having to force a choice upon her. They finally emerged with a meal for Auschwitz-the-Lifer - a single-serving dish of food (six pieces of california kappa maki), and a single-serving 1% milk.
"Finally," I grumbled. I was fecking hungry.
We took our lunches outside today, which was nice, as we ended up catching the last of the sunshine. As we sat down, though, I discovered that my food choices weren’t quite as safe as I had thought.
“Kage, here’s your spread,” Lovely Aussie Sue said, and pulled a mayonnaise pack out of a brown paper bag that she must have brought from upstairs, but that I hadn’t noticed.
“Gee, thanks,” I muttered as she placed it in my hand.
I was just bringing myself round on the Great Mayonnaise Crisis/Debate (it was decided that everything was gonna be okay) when Sweet Aussie Sue got me AGAIN!
“And all those salads have dressings with them, which must also be finished to completion."
“Oh God,” I whimpered softly.
Too much. Too much! Ed screamed.
But I didn’t have any choice. I had chosen the foods that now sat before me, waiting to be eaten, and if I didn’t eat every single bite, I would be Ensured!. I briefly considered tossing my food into the bushes over my shoulder and just drinking the fecking Ensure!, but I quickly lost interest in the idea. This food looks so good, I thought. Let’s just enjoy it.
Twas easier said then done, of course. I didn’t mix up the salad dressing properly, and ended up covering half the spinach with oil and the other half with clumps of pepper. But I still ate it. And then I put the dreaded mayonnaise on the bun of my veggie burger and I ate that, too. Finally I savored the sweetness of the fruit in my little plastic cup as the seconds quickly ran out, and Lunch was declared to be done.
It was over. It was all over, and I was still alive! Not only that, but I was also still smart, still funny, still cute, and still kind. I still wanted to be a writer, I still loved my dogs, I still missed Bf and Baby so badly that I pointblank refused to think of them, for fear of throwing myself over a cliff.
In short, I was ME. Not Ed’s me, who would be loved as soon as she lost a bit more weight, but me.
I was me.
I had eaten all of that food, and even though I was careful not to drink any water, for fear that I might actually explode, I decided that I was okay with the amount of food that was in my belly.
Well. I wasn’t exactly okay about the salad dressing and the mayo being in there too, but that was just too bad. Leave it alone, I told myself. There isn’t sweet fuck all you can do about it now, cuz there is no fucking way we are throwing that up. So find something else to think about, okay?
Um. That part didn’t go quite as smoothly, as Ed and I fought back and forth over what to do, but that’s okay.
The real battle was over. Ed had lost, and I had won.
Score one to me, Dick Nuts.
God. I feel so bad for the four other girls who have to room with me. My poor body is trying so hard to keep up with all the food I keep shoveling into it, but it’s obviously a bit overwhelmed at the moment. As a result, my bowels are racked with a gas so stinky that when I release it, even Satan himself gives pause and says, “That’s too much. I can’t stand it, please stop.”
I’m just after eating dinner, sitting up in my bed. I tried to give the girls a break by going out to write in the hallway, where I could release the painful gas in my tummy without worrying about the endless casualties, but PitPat the nurse made me come back.
Sorry girls, I thought, as I followed PitPat back down the hall and into the dorm room.
Anyway, I didn’t get to finish my story about how interesting the afternoon was, so let’s get back to that.
After our lunch outside, we came back up to the Group room to do a feelings check in (barf) before we spent our Saturday afternoon Group making bracelets.
We all filed into the Group room and sat down. Auschwitz-the-Lifer was the last to enter the room, and the moment Sweet Aussie Sue tried to close the door, she turned around and grabbed the handle.
“I have to go and get my potassium,” she said, and started to open the door.
“Not right now,” Sweet Aussie Sue said, closing the door again.
Auschwitz-the-Lifer smiled brightly and said okay, and started to move towards the table.
“Can we have tea for this, Sue?” I asked.
“Yes, you can,” she replied, and suddenly Auschwitz-the-Lifer was up again.
“I’m just going to get the mug that my mum brought for me!” she trilled, and reached for the door handle again.
Somebody wants to purge, I thought nastily to myself, then felt badly. So? Don’t you?
Sweet Aussie Sue reached out for the door and stopped Auschwitz once again. “We haven’t actually confirmed with the staff if we can do that yet,” she said firmly. “So why don’t you go and sit down, please?”
Auschwitz-the-Lifer reluctantly took her seat at the back of the room, still smiling brightly.
“So! Let’s check in and see how we’re all doing,” Sweet Aussie Sue said.
The other girls admitted to wanting to only get salad and try to get away with less food than they would normally have on their menus. I admitted to considering throwing my salad dressing and mayonnaise into the bushes behind me when no one was looking.
We were only in the Group room for maybe five minutes, as Sweet Aussie Sue wanted to move us to a bigger room for the bracelet making. As we all filed into the new room, we hauled all of Sue’s shopping bags onto the table.
She had gone to considerable effort, I noticed as we unpacked everything onto the tabletop.
Suddenly I realized something. I looked up and around the room.
“Where’s Auschwitz?” I demanded.
“She’s gone to get her potassium,” came Sweet Aussie Sue's voice, from somewhere deep within the depths of a shopping bag.
BULLSHIRT SHE IS.
They kept unpacking though, like nothing was wrong! I scrunched up my face in frustration, trying to decide what to do.
“Can I ask you something, Sue?” I said finally.
She looked up and opened her mouth to say yes, but I cut her off.
“You guys can tell from our blood work if we’re purging, right? Right?” I said more forcefully when she hesitated.
“Yes, we can,” she said.
I sighed. What should I do? Tell them what I suspected was happening, based on seeing Auschwitz coming out of the public bathroom alone last night? Or should I just leave it alone and work my own goddamn Program?
Auschwitz-the-Lifer returned a minute later, brandishing a tea mug.
“There was no nurse available for my potassium,” she told Sue, and I snorted to myself. No kidding. “But I grabbed my tea mug!”
Oh, for fuck’s sake! I fumed. Can they not see what is happening here? I used to do that too - find a good reason for taking so long and bring the evidence back with me to explain why I took so long to do the thing I said I was going to do, but didn’t actually do, because I was too busy PURGING.
That tea mug is a fucking decoy! I wanted to scream. Open your fucking eyes!
But nobody said anything, and I was too worried of the consequences of opening my mouth in front of everyone. I didn’t want to the the traitor of the group, shunned as the outcast for telling on one of the others.
Even if chances were fucking great that the person in question was going to die.
I decided I didn't have any choice. I would talk to Sweet Aussie Sue privately, after Group.
I was in such a shirty mood that I initially didn’t participate in the bracelet making. I just painted a butterfly on a piece of paper, and fumed. But when I saw the beautiful bracelet Sweetface created, I asked her to help me make one too. I wanted to have something that I had made while in the hospital, hopefully to remind me of where I have been, and where I want to go.
Sweetface helped me make one exactly like hers. It has clear white beads, then clear pink beads, then a metal daisy, then repeat. I love it.
I started to make a second one for Mum’s birthday, which was yesterday, but we ran out of time.
“That’s okay,” said Sweet Aussie Sue, as we packed everything up again. “We’re going to put this stuff in your room, so you have something to do if you get bored this weekend.”
Sweet! I would finish Mum’s necklace later.
A bunch of beads rolled off the table and onto the floor, and suddenly Auschwitz-the-Lifer was on her hands and knees, reaching under the table. I watched as her shirt lifted and exposed her back and her mid-drift.
Oh my God. I looked down and saw the back of her hip bones, on either side of her tailbone - you know, the bones that you never see because you have AN ASS THERE?
Well, you could see hers. And then you could see the hollow concaves where her buttocks used to be.
I don’t know why I was shocked. I knew she was a skeleton, I knew her muscles had eaten themselves to keep her alive. But seeing her backbone jutting out and the hipbones-that-should-never-be-seen suddenly drove it home, just how sick this little girl really was. I turned to look away, and was suddenly face to face with Sweetface.
She was staring down at the bones-you-shouldn’t-see, too.
Then she looked up at me, and all the anguish of the world was written on her face. That should be me! it screamed.
I reached out and took her arm, then slowly shook my head No. She looked down one more time, as if to burn the image into her memory, then she pulled her arm back and walked away.
When the room was cleared of beads (and anorexics), I approached Sweet Aussie Sue and asked to speak with her alone.
We went back into the Group room.
“Okay, I don’t want to be a tattle-tale,” I began.
“But please do,” Sue replied.
“Yeah, okay,” I said, and told her everything I knew - the behavior I recognized in Auschwitz when we were in the Group room; that I suspected she was actually purging whenever she kept making excuses to leave the room; how Mum and I had seen her in the public washroom last night for more than five minutes, before she left, unsupervised.
“I hate to say it, but it’s not fair,” I complained. “She doesn’t need to purge, she’s too thin. If anyone should be purging, it should be me, not her!”
What the fuck? Where did that come from?
“I’m glad that you brought it to my attention, Kage, so that we know we need to offer Auschwitz more support,” Sweet Aussie Sue said slowly. “But as for you comparing yourself to her...”
I tried to wave her off dismissively, but she stopped me.
“That girl is very, very sick,” she said softly.
Yeah? And what am I? I started to think, and then just stopped.
“I know that,” I sighed. “And no, I don’t want to be sick like her. It just bugs me knowing that she’s getting away with purging when I could be too, but I’m not.”
“I understand,” Sweet Aussie Sue said.
“Okay,” I grumbled. I felt like there should be more, but I didn’t know what else I wanted.
There was nothing else for it, though. I got up and left.
I feel almost like a normal eater right now (snort). I was full from my big lunch, so at Afternoon Snack today, I just ate what was on my menu (banana and Rice Krispie square), plus a cup of tea. At dinner, I ate what was on my menu (chicken breast, peas and brown rice), added a small granola bar and a cup of tea, and stopped eating again.
I was hungry again by 7:30, so when 9:00 finally came around, I was all set to eat as much as was humanly possible, to last me till the next morning.
But when I got in there, I ate my grapes, my yogurt, and one cup of granola, had my cup of tea, and stopped eating, because I was full.
Nighttime Snack wasn’t quite as easy to stop eating at as the other two, as I had enough time to eat more, and I wouldn’t be getting anymore food for eleven hours. And still, I stopped eating.
Fucking amazing. I don’t know what else to say.