Courage dear heart. -CS Lewis
Well here we are approaching the end of our first week at Kartini, and what a week it has been. This week has been mainly about just getting through. A lot of baby steps, tears, groans of frustration, and prayers as we tried to muddle our way through meal plans, dress codes, family therapy and half a million other minute details involved in this monstrosity that has so completely interrupted our life. Monday started off better than we expected. Despite major anxiety on everyone’s part, Connor walked through the clinic doors and up the stairs into the incredibly capable hands of the milieu therapists. When we picked him up that evening he was tired, but seemed very comfortable. Tuesday was much the same, although I noticed on the drive home he seemed angry. Transitions have never been easy for Connor and I imagine switching from Kartini to home is relatively rough. Kartini is clean and bright, open, colorful, organized, and as Connor put it, “It’s very Ikea-y.” Our house is chaotic at best, always untidy, small and dark. At Kartini the rules are clear, the therapists know what they are doing and understand eating disorders. At home mom guesses a lot, A LOT! She tries her best to get it right, but it’s obvious she isn’t sure. No one in this house knows anything about disordered eating, and the rules are still sketchy. Tuesday was his first dinner at home. (He eats every meal at Kartini on Monday.) I carefully (and agonizingly) measured out the specific amounts of food for him, then cooked it, then cooked mine and Eilidh’s. Dane was at work and though I missed him terribly while I stumbled my way through the Parent Cookbook, I soldiered on! As I set the plate down in front of him he looked at me in alarm, “Mom, this is a lot of food.” My heart sank. There was no getting him to eat it now. His anxiety had already decided it wasn’t going to happen. Never the less I did my best to encourage him to eat, and when he didn’t promptly poured him a Boost Plus, which is basically what he’s living on these days if we’re lucky. I put the kids to bed and almost immediately fell asleep on the couch.
Wednesday I forgot the dress code of loose fitting, long pants with no pockets, and let Connor wear shorts. At least they were loose fitting and didn’t have pockets. His group counselor gently reminded me at pick-up. Dang it! One more thing I haven’t quite got right. I did enjoy a really good conversation with another mom whose daughter is in Connor’s group. A moment of pause, and realization that I’m not alone, Connor’s not alone. More anger in the car on the ride home. I was really excited about the dinner we’d decided on that night, and was sure it would be a winner with both kids. Homemade Chicken Yakisoba with salad (there is ALWAYS salad with dinner now.) I decided to put the salad in it’s own bowl rather than on the plate like we’d always done to make it look like less on his plate. When I brought it out, he said, “Oh wow! That looks good.” Okay I thought, that’s something anyway. He ate. Not a lot, but he ate. Then I forgot to give him a Boost to make up what he didn’t eat. Ugh!
Today Dane and I spent all day at Kartini too. While Connor went through his daily routine, Dane and I attended a parent support group, family therapy, had a meeting with his supervising pediatrician, and did orientation with his group counselor. My brain is on overload right now. Oh man there is so much. For both the Family Therapy session and the meeting with the Dr. Connor was brought in for part of the meeting. Both times I felt like the bottom fell out from under me. I told Dane, “I always knew this wasn’t going to be a one and done sort of deal. But I thought we had a better idea of what was going on with him. But here we are, and every meeting it was like there was so much more, more layers getting peeled away.” Watching him trying to eat his lunch while we talked with the Dr broke my heart. It was all he could do to eat one bite. Mostly he peeled at the crust and kind of licked the sandwich. In another meeting his counselor told us about how he talks about his body, and that he worries about the fact he’s so thin, and it scares him. What?! How do I not know this? I’m his mother, I should know this about him! She suggested we remove the mirror from the bathroom. Alrighty then!
A few more tears, a lot of hand wringing, and quietly telling myself we’ll get through this…tonight I am tired, and my family is tired. I am praying Connor eats something tonight. I am trying to keep my family from losing it with each other. I am trying to not get too far ahead of myself, because that is overwhelming and scary. So for now, I’m just trying to have courage.