Friday, May 9, 2014

What exactly is an eating disorder?

I started working on the packet of questions and answers I have to return to the surgeon's office as part of the process to get bariatric surgery.  I knew it was going to be pretty intense, so I wanted to spend some time focusing on the questions and being as thorough as possible.  From history, I know these sorts of things are pretty invasive.  I was prepared to see things asking about all the diets I've been on, checking boxes in regards to conditions I've had, describing previous surgeries and that sort of thing.  They ask everything under the sun and I have had a lot of the ailments.

Sleep Apnea - yes
Diabetes - yes
Osteoarthritis - yes
Cancer - yes
Fatigue - yes
Numbness - yes
Dizziness - yes

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea.  They were looking for dates, names of doctors I've seen and many more details that I just couldn't remember.  I did remember, though, that I could log into my Kaiser account online and grab some info.  I found a handy PDF that I was able to download with some vital information.  It was actually a pretty nifty document with so much detail.  I started perusing it and then I got to a section that talked about my active problems.  The list of conditions is ongoing and the dates for these things is reflected by the last time a diagnosis was put in to the system.  I think they also group things together.  I didn't see a listing for the osteoarthritis, for example, but I know it has been diagnosed.

I recently had a little bit of a high reading on my last two blood pressure check-ups, so my doctor put me on some medication until I go in for surgery.  I knew about that one.  The one that surprised me, though, was the diagnoses noted on February 19th of this year for an eating disorder.  I thought about who I saw at that time and that was just after I had an appointment with my therapist.

I just stared at it, almost in disbelief.  I had never before had a medical professional tell me that I had that. When most people think of an eating disorder, the things that come to mind are those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia.  Think about what you hear in the news.  Never is someone who is obese given the same consideration because we're thought of as not being able to control ourselves versus, for example, someone who is bulimic and just can't stop purging.  At the end of the day, isn't it the same disease, just manifested in a different way?  I started to wonder and so I looked up some information.

The National Eating Disorders Association describes a binge eating disorder with details such as "indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort ..."  The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders explains binge eating disorder as, among other things, "cravings that can occur any time of the day or night, usually secretive, and filled with shame.  Bingeing is often rooted in poor body image, use of food to deal with stress, low self-esteem and tied to dysfunctional thoughts."

Wow.  That's pretty intense on one hand and, on the other, it also is amazing that the medical community is starting to look at this with more consideration.  I do want to spend some time looking at those websites a little more, as well as others.  This helps me feel less stigmatized in a sense.  Even when I went to the talk with the surgeon the other day, he kept talking about how obesity is a disease and that we need to take serious action towards eradicating it.  This is exactly why I am pursing weight loss surgery.  I have tried a million things to try to lose the weight and keep it off.  I mean, think about what I did when I was on Optifast ... I ate no solid food for eight or nine months.  I even got permission to take communion at church once a month to make sure I wasn't ruining anything.  Clearly I have given it my all before taking the radical step of having surgery.

While the diagnosis of "eating disorder" initially was pretty shocking to me, I can see now where actually it was a blessing in disguise.  I really don't have to feel like this is a judgment towards my character or feeling as if I'm lazier than other people.  There is a treatment plan in place for me to help put it in remission.  I pray daily for the courage to keep walking forward through all the hills and valleys that I encounter on my journey towards a healthier life.


happyinca said...

That is very, very interesting Kathy. What an eye-opener. It is very helpful to me to see this as a disorder (treatable), and not be left suffering in the wind without hope or relief. Keep walking my friend, you are on the right path for sure.

Kathy said...

Thanks Christy. I'm so grateful that there is a name for this, instead of leaving suffering people wondering if there was something wrong with them. I pray others are helped towards healing too.

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