Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Fight With Anorexia, Part 1: The Diagnosis

I like to have fun. I like to think about fun. And as you can tell by past blogs, I like to write about fun. But sometimes life just isn’t fun. And it hasn’t been since October 2013 when my 14 year-old daughter, Caylin, was diagnosed with anorexia.

Over the last seven months I've thought several times about documenting this experience, if for no other reason than to help me process it. When I tried, though, I just couldn't relive the agony on paper. I literally could not type ONE WORD. We've come far enough in our journey now, where I think I can write about it. My hope is that it reaches those who need it. 

The Beginning

It started out innocently enough in July with Caylin deciding to “get in shape” at our local YMCA. At 5'4, she weighed 117 pounds, not overweight by any means. My husband's dad had died a few weeks before and we were still recovering from the funeral. Exercise, with its natural endorphins, seemed like a good idea for all of us. 

Fast forward to October. What had started out as a light, twice a week workout for Caylin, evolved into a seven day, self-imposed boot camp. Caylin was down to 107. At this point, the weight itself didn't set off alarm bells, but her weird behavior did: 

  • She kept a growing list of forbidden foods: butter, sugar, bread, meat.
  • She withdrew from her friends and her twin sister.
  • Her mood was dark, her temper short. 

Call it a mother’s instinct or a direct message from God, but I Googled anorexia on October 11th and Caylin fit every criteria. And no one believed me. My husband said I was overreacting, my mother-in-law said she didn’t look too thin, even our family doctor thought she was just going through a phase and needed a pep talk. But I knew my daughter and something was very VERY wrong.

Fast forward to November: Weight 98 and a household thrown into complete chaos. Mealtimes were a battle zone. My once sweet daughter morphed into Mr. Hyde.  She regularly cursed at us, insisted on cooking for the family without eating any of it, ate grapes by the pound, collected pictures from cooking magazines, ate with baby-sized utensils, watched cooking shows over and over, and worst of all (unbeknownst to us) limited herself to 900 calories a day. She was starving to death before our eyes, and we didn't know what to do. We begged. We bribed. We pleaded. We threatened. Nothing worked. She hated us and the weight continued to melt off.

I am a Christian. I believe in prayer. And I believe in full disclosure. The devil wants us to be ashamed, to hide our problems, to cover them up. Caylin’s life was in peril (anorexia kills twenty percent of its victims.) It was no time for secrecy or pride. We reached out to our friends, our pastor, our physician, Caylin’s teachers….anyone we could think of who could pray for her and offer us advice. 

Now before you go bashing on me for not seeking specialized medical treatment, we tried. We live in central Nebraska, five hours from the nearest in-house treatment center in Denver. We were willing to take her, but they weren’t willing to take us, because they didn’t work with our insurance company. We offered to put up a cash retainer. The answer was still no. Our only option was to apply for Blue Cross (a company they would accept) and wait until January for Obama Care to kick in when BC couldn't deny us coverage based on a preexisting condition. 

In the meantime, I did some research. Caylin's blood needed to be monitored every week, particularly potassium levels. Our local doctor, now fully on board with us, ordered and reviewed the tests every week to make sure she wasn't going into organ failure. There's only one cure for anorexia, and that's eating. We needed to get food into our child and fast.

The second week in November, God sent us the next gift in Caylin's treatment: Off the C.U.F.F. from the Duke University Medical Center. This is a priceless resource for parents. It follows the Maudsley approach to eating disorders. The program is home-based and has the highest success rate (98%) of all treatments available. If you have a child with anorexia, ordering Off the C.U.F.F. is your starting place:

Duke Eating Disorders Program
Box 3842
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710

TEL: (919) 684-5712
FAX: (919) 681-7347

Cost: $35.

Next Installment: Forming Caylin's support team.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mr. Selfridge Episode 3....A Whole Lot of Chocolate Going On

I didn’t know when I tuned into Episode 3 of Mr. Selfridge that I was going to get a lesson in all things Belgian.

For those geographically challenged, Belgium is located right across the English channel, smack next door to Germany. A French, Dutch, and slightly German speaking country, Belgium has a figurehead monarch, namely King Philippe.

 “King who?” you say.  I know, I know.  If it’s not Kate and Will, who cares, right? But monarchies still abound in the world, and Belgium has a crowned head who happens to look a lot like the Dos Equis guy:

King Phillipe
Dos Equis Guy

And let’s not forget the most important part of Belgium: waffles and chocolate, mostly chocolate. What a hoot it was to watch Miss Mardle inhaling chocolate all night, then getting hit on by the chocolatier. They say good things come to those who wait, and Josie, my dear, you've been waiting long enough. If the Belgian Willy Wonka wants you, I say go for it!

Elsewhere in Mr. Selfridge, the mood continues to darken as employee after employee signs up for military service from which they’re unlikely to return. Frank Edwards knows the score. Unfortunately, he’s the press, and the press is being censored.

Alas, not much else going on this episode:
  • Henri’s up to some subterfuge involving money.
  • Harry’s still sucking up to Rose
  • Lord Loxley is still being a jerk, but don’t worry…Lady Mae’s got her ancient maid spying on him now.
  • Kitty still has the hots for George.
  • Victor almost enlists, then decides not to at the dying wish of his uncle. (This is a huge decision for him, as cowardice in this time period is viewed worse than death.)

Kind of slow moving this week, but still a good way to spend Sunday night. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find some chocolate. Can't imagine WHY I'm craving it.... 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Welcome Back Mr. Selfridge

Season Two of Mr. Selfridge is off to a great start! I wonder if the producers took a page from Harry's book after lackluster Season One: “Writers, up your game or you’re out!”

Season Two, set five years later in 1913, has bloomed in all ways possible:

Visually, we have COLOR! The costumes are gorgeous. The hair is gorgeous. The makeup is gorgeous. And not just for the upper classes. Working gals, your time has come!

Scriptually (is that a word?), we have a storyline that finally goes deeper than Harry’s insatiable libido. This season’s show actually offers a plotline worthy of the DVR space it’s taking up. World War I is approaching, ethnic tensions are mounting (watch out, Victor), women are on the career fast track, and a true villain has emerged in the form of Lord Loxley.

I am loving all the changes that five years has brought to our favorite department store. In business terms, let me give you the growth chart:

Upward Trend

Agnes Towler: Now head of display, she’s fresh off her Parisian training and being put to the test with a storewide empire theme. Love interest, Henri, is back. Time will tell if the writers can put some sizzle into it this go-round.

George Towler: This scarecrow finally got his brain! Now manager of “Internal Distribution” (moving boxes around the store), he’s the new boss of the loading dock. Gone is the confused patsy filling blue trucks with stolen merchandise.  It's five years later and he’s assertive, alert, and running a tight ship. Wow.

Miss Mardle: Josie's now a woman of "independent means" thanks to the generosity of her dead brother. I love how she showed off her new wealth to Roger in the guise of “I’d like your advice on how to handle becoming an instant millionaire.” Awesome!  No one will ever forget what a dirt bag Roger was to her in Season One. IN YOUR FACE, GROVE! Josie’s only showing up to work because she wants to, not because she has to. Enjoy going home to Fertile Myrtle, Roger. Ha!

You go, girl!
Kitty Hawkins: Now head of cosmetics, this girl can sell snow to an Eskimo. She’s street smart and able to handle the likes of the lecherous Frank Edwards. However, any liking I had of her in Episode 1 disappeared in Episode 2 with her nasty remarks to Victor regarding his Italian heritage. She's a slippery one. We'll see how she develops this season.

Victor Calliano: Speaking of… Victor is now head of the Palm Court. He still has a thing for Agnes, but this storyline is so Ross/Rachel, I find it hard to stay awake. I hope the writers ditch this direction soon.

Rose Selfridge: I don’t know what to think of Rose this season. She’s conventional one minute, playing the supportive wife for public appearance sake. Yet, she's controversial the next in her friendship with soft porn writer and nightclub owner, Delphine Day. She’s trying to be a good mother to Gordon (anyone else cringe at the sex talk she tried to give him at the breakfast table?), but she left her young daughters back in America under the care of Harry’s aging mother.  Historically, we know Rose is going to die in five years from the Spanish Flu, so the writers don't have much time to make her character interesting. She’s a gold mine of possibility. Get with it!

Falling Off A Cliff

Roger Grove: You got yours mister! I so love it that he’s overwhelmed by the very wife and children he dumped Josie for. He’s tired, sloppy, and about to lose his job. Thanks to the wonderful Mr. Crabb (and he IS wonderful! I want him for my grandpa…), Roger is slowly pulling himself together.

Frank Edwards: WORM. ‘Nuf said.

Henri LeClaire: We know he hit the skids in New York with this girlfriend and his career. We know he’s now living in a London ghetto unemployed. He did clean up nicely in Episode 2, and he was helpful and charming to Agnes, so for now we’ll withhold judgment.

Walking the Fence

Lady Mae: Such a great storyline in the evil, conniving husband returning to London to make everyone's life miserable. Who better suited to squash this guy than Lady Mae? Sadly, however, she's lost much of the energy and spark she had in Season One. This may be due to the fact that she is, in real life, pregnant with her first child. I only just found this out. I went back and rewatched the video, and you can see the signs of exhaustion. I’ll cut Lady Mae some slack this season, but let's hope some of her wicked resourcefulness emerges as she fights for her lifestyle and her title.

Harry: Eh….  Herein is the most underutilized talent on this show. Ari Gold and Harry Selfridge aren’t so unalike, so why can’t the writers give Jeremy Piven something he can sink his teeth into? He is the title character after all. Perplexing.

Welcome back, Mr. Selfridge! A+ for improvement!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Top Three Internet Time Wasters

Technology is such a gift, but it can also be the ultimate time suck.

Time Waster Number #1: 
The WHO ARE YOU Quizzes 

The newest rage on the Internet are the Who Are You quizzes. Based on zero science, you’re posed a question such as: Which Disney Princess Are You? You’re then lead through a series of frames with six or more picture selections:
            Frame One: Pick a dessert
            Frame Two: Pick a sport
            Frame Three: Pick a color

Following your selections, your true identity is revealed. VOILA! I’m Princess Jasmine. (I’m ok with that.)

The other day I took the the quiz Which Downton Abbey Character Are You? I came up Isabelle and snorted.  Isabelle's a nurse. You won't fine me within a mile of a sick person.

And then there was the Which President Are You? I came up Thomas Jefferson...slave holder, adulterer. Seriously? No thanks!  I guess he was a pretty good writer, though....

What draws millions of people to these ridiculous quizzes? Are they just pleasurable diversions to make us laugh or does it pose a more insidious societal question of dissatisfaction with our lives? For myself, it provides a 60 second delay in checking homework, doing laundry, cooking dinner, picking up dog poop in the yard… you know all the things I'm SUPPOSED to be doing.

Candy Crush, Angry Birds, Papa Pear……

I’m relatively new to the game app world. Last year my 8 year-old nephew introduced me to Angry Birds. I played it so much I started imagining sling-shotting my husband and daughters into wooden structures for not taking out the trash or picking up their underwear off the bathroom floor.  Then, as if I hadn’t wasted enough time and expensive cellular data (thank you Verizon for the daily nastygram), Facebook got me started on Candy Crush.

The addictive nature of Candy Crush defies all logic. All you have to do is match three colors (four or five would be even better). Sounds like something a preschooler would enjoy, right? I can't explain it, but once you start, you can't stop. And now, as if time on the home computer weren't enough, I rely on Candy Crush for wait-time in the car. And I do mean WAIT. School gets out at 3:30. My twins generally stroll out the door around 3:49. Pre Candy Crush, this would have enraged me. Now, thanks to this colorful time waster, I have the patience of the Dalai Lama. 



This is the King Daddy of all time wasters. I log on several times a day to find out where my friends are vacationing, whose anniversary it is, or what general minutia people are thinking about at any given moment of the day. Meanwhile, the wet laundry has been sitting in the washing machine for three days. I don't really need to explain Facebook to you. I know you're in the trenches with me.

I tracked for one week how much time I spent on my top three time wasters. Total: Two hours! That’s eight hours a month, 96 hours a year! To think what I could have written in that time….it makes one weep. I wonder where we’d be if JK Rowling played Angry Birds in that little cafĂ© instead of crafting Harry Potter on napkins. Food for thought.