(Work friends of mine will know the irony of the title)
Tomorrow it is the last exam for K and L. So, the rules about backing off during exams are gone. The gloves are coming off. We have a session at CAMHS. L and I sit in the waiting room, talking about the CAMHS smell. It isn’t an unpleasant smell, but it is a unique one. The CAMHS smell. I have sat in this waiting room with J while our lives were torn apart by Aspergers. K and I waited here to see if she had Aspergers too. But L and I have waited here for longer. Waited to see the team and waited for anorexia to be over. L comments that she hates the place. I nudge her arm and tell her she needs to get better. “But, I’ll need to come here for a year anyway” she says. I look at her and say, at least a year. That a year after weight restoration is a minimum and we aren’t even at that point yet and we are going backwards. L sighs. I hug her shoulders. We knows this session is going to be tough.
When we go in, she is weighed first. Another loss of nearly a pound in a week. I am not surprised. We go through her progress at CAMHS, nearly four kilos lost since she was discharged. In two month a constant decline in her weight, week in week out. Her psychiatrist and I tell her we are weeks away from re-admission. I look her in the eye and tell her that there will be no sixth form. I will not move on this. I have given in too many times. This is too important. I tell the psychiatrist that I have felt constantly frustrated that the staff in the unit felt L needed to want to eat, whereas I wanted to take charge and insist on eating and this led to the suspicion I was a controlling mother. I show the psychiatrist my food plan, written neatly in a book.
But this time I am not told that I need to back off. The doctor agrees and says she believes L has been given control too early and that anorexia has seized control as a result. If L could choose foods that would make her better, that would be great, but it isn’t happening. It is simple. Does what we are doing now, work. No, it doesn’t. So we need to change..
I feel elated. She also agrees that L needs to be barred from the kitchen, that discussion about ingredients needs to stop, that negotiation is to be kept for the boardroom, not the dining room. She is kind, but firm. She spells out the reality of how ill L is and how likely she is to be readmitted, either to the previous unit, or a specialist unit many miles away. I share my meal plan and L looks cornered and terrified, but I don’t see my daughter terrified, I see Ed sitting there, realising he is busted.
We start tomorrow. Three meals, three snacks, determined by me. Home made meals, with no measuring and as many ingredients as possible without calorie values. We’ve been here before and before. L can still choose Ed. But I know part of her wants to move on. She is bored, angry, sad and frustrated by anorexia. But now she needs to be brave. Determined and brave. I know she can do it. And I know I am ready too. C and her father are to be briefed tomorrow. There will be rules, written down in books. There will be a backlash and we are ready. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder against all the hostilities to come. We have to learn to be calm. Operation L Rescue is Go.