Taking a Break

This is our sixth holiday with Ed. I’d leave him at home, but he and L come as a pair. Our first holiday, walking in the Picos de Europa was a week after diagnosis. L’s team warned against any walking as she was too weak, but it was the only way we got her to eat. Watching her stride up mountains leaving us all behind made me think that perhaps if she felt joy she might want to eat. I was so wrong. The second holiday was just prior to admission. I sought approval to go, and only L came out of the three children. K couldn’t face a fortnight of anorexia. I was strict about food, she gained weight, but on return was admitted to hospital.

Now we are in the Highlands, seemingly on the edges of the world. The autumn landscape is stunning, the rich green of conifers set against blazing orange and crimson leaves of autumn, topped by watery blue skies, seemingly filled with every cloud imaginable. The air is crisp and in the middle of ancient woodland where our cottage is, smells of damp leaves and mist. This is perfect, we have logs for the fire, blankets for snuggling and castles to visit and mountains to climb. Poor K is ill with a cold, but at least she has Wifi and is old enough to be left while we go for walks

Plus, however, we have three meals and three snacks to fit in. I can book annual leave from work, but anorexia is another matter. I have planned meals and snacks, including fear foods for L. There are no strange hotel restaurants to navigate where quiet voiced insistence on completion of meals is accompanied by furtive glances at neighbouring tables and where L’s passive resistance can triumph. But I am so tired and in need of a break. When L makes crumpets and strawberries for lunch taking them to a windowsill to Instagram with the cottage garden background and post with #anorexia #recovery tags I want to scream, smash the plates and yell, No this isn’t what fucking recovery looks like. But she at least eats. She doesn’t avoid, she just controls. No, wait, Ed controls. She is a delight to have around in other ways though. She is helpful and cleans the kitchen after meals. She comes into our room in the morning and asks if we want breakfast in bed. C says, No, you can’t do that, but I stretch and yawn and order granola and fruit, orange juice and more tea. After breakfast, she snuggles up in bed next to me. It isn’t our six feet wide bed, and L, a human Irish setter with long slender limbs and shiny hair has to entwine herself around me. She nestles in the crook of my arm and I wrap both arms around her to keep her from falling out. I can hear her slow breathing as we snooze a little and I kiss her freckled forehead and hairline. Her hair smells of Lush products and her breath smells sweetish and metallic, a morning mouth with braces.

Yesterday we went to the pub, L and I played pool and we discussed next year’s holiday. C suggested The Boyfriend came with us. I express some anxiety about having a young person with CF who might need urgent medical treatment, but the truth is, if the new lovely Boyfriend came along, leaving Ed, the controlling destructive boyfriend that is anorexia, I would be so, so happy.

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