Saturday, March 10, 2007

Anorexia and Bulimia...

I remember going into the Nurse's office at my high school and weighing myself. I weighed 141. Then I remembered that I had lost ALL that weight before being diagnosed and I could eat anything that I had wanted. What if I just stopped taking my shots for a little while, just to get my skinny self back and then start up again? I could do it, right? I mean, it would only be for a couple weeks. Silly me. So, I stopped taking my shots and stopped testing my blood. Of course, the weight melted off. The next week I was 132 - wonderful. I was working out like crazy too. I would go to a 2 hour swim practice before school and a 2-3 hour practice in the afternoon. Then I would go and hit the stair master for 45 minutes and the weight machines. I did this every day.

I began to take my shots again, but did not adjust my diet accordingly. So, of course the weight came creeping back on. I decided to stop eating but one meal a day. I would get up and have a Diet Coke for breakfast, a Diet Coke and a package of saltines for lunch, a snack of Diet Coke and a piece of sugarless gum before practice, and for dinner I would have a Diet Coke, a salad with no dressing, and a can of white tuna plain with no mayo. Yup, that worked for a while. But as a swimmer, I was HUNGRY all the time. And I remembered that my mom had thrown up for years and she stayed skinny and could eat whatever she wanted. Because it would just come back out. WOW! Maybe that was what I should be doing.

I remember going out to the store on a mission - to buy the sweets that I always wanted to eat, but couldn't because I didn't want to get "fat". I bought a whole bag of Chewy Chips Ahoy, an Entemann's Chocolate cake with Marshmallow frosting, and a big bag of Lay's Potato Chips. I ran home and stuffed my face with them until I felt literally sick to my stomach. But, boy did it taste good.

After I was done, I went into the bathroom and took a glass. I filled it with water and baking soda, just like I had seen my mother do tons of times. I downed the entire glass of water and then leaned over the toilet bowl. I stuck my pointer and middle finger down my throat, and NOTHING. Obviously I wasn't doing it right. I kept trying but it didn't work. I was thinking "Gee, now you've done it - you ate ALL those calories and you can't even get rid of it." I was determined to get the job done. I tried again, more forcefully and deeper this time and it WORKED. Little did I know that this would be a really easy pattern to fall into. I could eat whatever I wanted and then just get rid of it. Perfect. Or so I thought.

My Diabetes - A Story In Itself...

It was Jan 1990 and I had been feeling SO tired. I was practicing a lot for swim team, both morning and evening practices, had a ton of school work that was due, and I just felt generally lousy. I had also lost 15 pounds without even trying - awesome if you are a teenager. I was an average size person to begin with so 15 pounds didn't seem like a lot to me. I was constantly thirsty and was going to the bathroom at least 20 times a day.

I happened to pick up a book about a dancer who was diagnosed with Diabetes and I began seeing similarities with how I felt with how the character in the book felt. It was uncanny. I began thinking that maybe I needed to see a doctor so I made an appointment. I went in and told him how crappy I felt and what I thought I MAY have. He tested my blood glucose in the office and it was 333. I didn't know then that normal range for that test was 80-110. He immediately sent me for a series of blood tests. I received word in the next day or so that I did indeed have Type 1 Diabetes and would need to take shots and test my blood every day for the rest of my life.

It was hard enough trying to fit into being a "normal" teenager, now this. It was very scary and new to me. My parents were in the middle of getting a nasty divorce so I was sort of thrown into doing the whole "diabetes routine" myself. I remember vividly the first time that I had to give myself a shot. It was a Saturday morning, after I had spent the night at my best friend S's house. I loaded up the syringe and spent about 15 minutes staring at my thigh at the place where I was supposed to jab a needle into. I must have said "When I count to 10 I am going to do it"...but I counted and couldn't get up the courage to do so. Finally I held my breath, shut my eyes and plunged it into my muscular swimmers thigh. OWWWWW - boy did it hurt. And I remember thinking to myself, "Holy crap I need to do this 2 times a day?" Oh My God.

I had to completely change the way that I ate. I now needed to test before eating, I had to eat healthy foods and avoid sugary ones. Back then, there was not a lot of leeway in terms of what you could and couldn't eat. No more ice cream sundae parties after swim meets, no more Sour Patch Kids at the movies, it was just a change that took a LOT of getting used to. I felt like I was a lot different from the other kids now. I had to count "exchanges" and eat at different times.

Once I got my body regulated(about 8 months after being diagnosed), my "perfect diet" that I was on before disappeared and I began to gain the weight back. I didn't notice it at first. In fact the first person that noticed it was my boyfriend. He said something that I am sure he didn't mean maliciously, but I heard it as "You are getting too fat - you better do something about it."
I was horrified and decided right then and there that I was going to be skinny again. Of course, I was only 140 at the time, which wasn't bad for my height and for a strong swimmer. But I didn't realize that then. I decided that I would do something different so that I could lose the weight quickly. It was a decision that would affect me for the rest of my life.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Fast Forward About 5 years...

As a high school student, I excelled. I was in the National Honor Society, a championship swimmer, and all around good student. But there were things that I was doing, that I realize now were a manifestation of the years of abuse and how it changed the way I thought and viewed the world.

I guess you could say I was a pretty promiscuous teenager. I had always equated "sex" with attention and love - so naturally, that is how I got the attention from the boys that I wanted. The year after C's death, I began giving oral sex to boys that I barely knew. I didn't particularly like it, but it kept them coming back to see me and it made me feel wanted. I lost my virginity at 15 with a boyfriend that I had a relationship with for over 4 years, so I don't really regret that decision, I just wish that I had realized early on that sex (especially oral sex) is still something deeply personal and something that is not to be taken lightly.

I also experimented with drinking, and sometimes quite a lot. I would get drunk on the weekends and hang out with boys that were much older than myself. I had a select group of girl friends who I would go out with me and purchase alcohol for me and my girls. We would then go to the movies, or out to eat and be toasted. Not the best way to handle difficult situations - also, I admit that I fell into the "peer pressure" that so many teenagers face these day.

I had a lot of friends, a lot of fun, and many cherished memories of high school. I knew deep down inside that the abuse and C's homicide/suicide, was NOT my fault and I really did not give much thought to those events for a long time. Occasionally, something would happen that would give me a flashback or two, but nothing out of the ordinary happened. I was going to college, had a wonderful boyfriend, B and thought that nothing could stop me. Then I got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 17.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Another Betrayal...

Right before C decided to take his life, my parents went and told my grandparents what had happened to me. I remember sitting out in the car while they went in and talked to them.

My grandparent's were very involved in my life. L and I frequently slept over at their house, went to church with them, visited them after school and traveled with them. I had just assumed that they would rally around me as the rest of my family had. I was wrong.

They thought that I had "lied" and/or "exaggerated" what had happened. After all, he was "such a nice, church going man with a family of his own." They thought that this was my way of getting attention and over-reacting to an "innocent" flirtation. That was SO devastating for me to hear. Actually, I did not hear it with my own ears, but I overheard my parents talking about it that evening because they were so upset.

I will never understand WHY they chose not to believe me. The final kicker was that they actually attended the funeral for this "wonderful man." It seemed like a slap in the face to me and I never got an answer as to why they thought that I had made it up.

Up until 5 years ago, there were STILL pictures of C and Mrs. C in my personal photo book that my grandparents had made for me. Pictures of him at my birthdays, holidays, Halloween, school events, etc and they probably would still be there today if I had not taken them out and destroyed them.

I know that you are probably wondering why I never brought this up with them if it upset me so much, especially now that I am a grown adult with children of my own. Well, the truth of the matter is - it doesn't really matter to me WHY anymore. I assume that it was ignorance on their part as well as their "old school" mentality that those things just didn't happen to "people they knew."

Would I feel any differently if they said that they still believed that I had lied? Or that they now believed that I had been telling the truth? I don't think so. My Grandma passed away 2 years ago on May 23 - she was a great woman who I loved with all my heart. She and my Grandpa were married for 64 years when she died. He was completely lost without her and is just now, beginning to talk about her without crying. I have forgiven them for not believing me when I needed their love and support the most.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Relief vs Sadness...

My parents sat me down at the kitchen table and said that something "bad" had happened. The police had gone over to C's house that morning with an arrest warrant and found a very disturbing scene at the house.

C, the avid hunter, had fatally shot himself, Mrs. C, and their 2 dogs prior to the police arriving at the house. I would learn of what really happened about 20 years later when I decided to ask my dad about that day. I will tell that part in the next post.

I remember sitting there wrestling with 2 major feelings - relief (that he was dead and that he couldn't hurt me or anyone ever again) and sadness (that he had killed Mrs. C - the Ranger Cookie lady who I really loved like a Grandma). I did not cry or get upset. I was just numb. My parents were calm, but I believe, in shock as well.

After they had told me this news, they quickly packed up our stuff so that we could head out of town on our scheduled trip to Maine. I did not know until MUCH later that we left town rather quickly because it would be all over the news that evening, and in the local and state paper over the weekend. By the time we returned, a few days later, there was no mention of what had happened. It was as if it didn't even happen.