K and I go to see L on her first evening at the unit where she is an inpatient. We arrive just as the meal hour has finished, meaning that L has eaten and also had the ten minute debrief afterwards. She is now on supervision and the nurse explains what this means, that L must remain sitting down and is not allowed to use the bathroom for the next hour.
She is in good spirits, almost excited by her day. She describes everyone she has met and how nice they are. She is one of only two inpatients at present so has a large room to herself. The other patient is a boy with an ED, and she is intrigued by this. there are day patients as well, one of whom is her ‘buddy’ to help settle her in. She has managed to eat all meals and snacks and her meal that evening included sausages, a real fear food for her. But she ate them and at the debrief, the others cheered her and told her they noticed how she had struggled. She talks about the others on the programme and it is clear that she feels less alone. While we have supported her at home, none of us really know how much pain she is feeling. Here, there are others who know and who are recovering and want to help her to do the same. I feel slightly foolish at some of my earlier fears, that inpatient treatment would teach her to be a better anorexic.
She also seems to be having fun – they play games which she enjoys and they made sushi, which she tried and liked. It is almost as if she has gone away to summer camp, rather than a hospital. L is brave and resilient and I know that she will always put on a brave face for me. But I detect real hope in her.
Today she texts me – it has been harder today and she is really tired. It reminds me of the joke about the child who loves their first day at school but rebels when they realise they have to go the next day and the day after that. A good day is just a good day, not the end of the road. I am driving home and I text her to tell her I am listening to Count on Me by Bruno Mars, one of her favourite songs and suggest she takes a nap and listens to it as well and I will see her later. We are on a long road trip to recovery and some days are bound to be bumpier than others.
UPDATE: Just been to see her, took her favourite blanket and we had what we call Kangaroo time where we wrap ourselves up in each other. She was ok though, just tired. But she giggled and she sounded positive. She likes bed rest and she told me she has only known the other ED patients for a day and she already really wants them to get better. I reminded her she needs to feel the same way about herself.