Thursday, 26 August 2010


Waif has now had her birthday, although not yet a party as many of her friends are away.  I will have to change the blurb on the side bar about rescuing my fading 13 year old daughter, to something more optimistic about my healthier looking, beautiful 14 year old.

We have been away to the Italian lakes to stay in a beautiful complex with tennis and a pool.  Lots of swimming and reading was done.

Eating on holiday is always tricky.  Waif seemed to be back to her old habits of making excuses:  she didn't like the fishfingers we found in an Italian supermarket even though they were still Bird's Eye, she didn't like their style of bread etc  I had thought it would be easy as pasta is her favourite food and obviously good quality ice cream is a cinch.

She did look thinner on her return last week but she gaily announced to me that she had weighed herself and was still at 44kg (fully clothed), which is 97lbs, or just 1 lb off 7 stone.  7 stone would be a nice place to be even if still  underweight  :-)      I suspect the reason she looks thinner (which, yes, I am working on now we are home) is that she has grown like topsy.  She is now taller than I am in my heels.  I take this as a sign that she is getting good enough nutrition.

Older Daughter has achieved a string of A* grades (9 of them) at GCSE which is fabulous but sets a very high bar for Waif who always seems to feel in competition with her sister.  I need to make sure that she does not overwork.  - she is taking her first GCSE next June (at the age of 14) and is sitting her first english module (Henry V) in October.  Hmmm.... my husband piled on more pressure by announcing that A's today are the equivalent of C's in our day.  Actually, I reckon this generation of teens work much harder than we ever did.

We have also had stress in the way of a family tragedy - a murder (alleged) by and of a reasonably close family member.  I  realise this is quite dramatic news and don't want to go into details but suffice it to say that Waif is back in bed with us.   We are NOT that kind of family but there were obviously things going on about which we knew only the tip of the iceberg.   This will linger on until and after trial in 6 months time and see dark family secrets spread over the newspapers come the Spring.  Perhaps we are not the perfect family I thought we were.

On the way home from Lake Garda, at Stansted Airport, we passed the thinnest girl I have ever seen.  Her thighs were like bare bones  :-(     My heart went out to her and her family and couldn't help thinking that she was not going to live long unless she got some serious help.  It is selfish, but I am thankful that it was not us with her ie Waif that was that thin.  Although some readers have the impression that I am casual about the Maudsley and about recovery, I can assure you that I am not.  If I were allowed only one wish in the whole of my life it would be to make Waif better and I know that the Maudsley is the best place for it, and indeed it seems to be working.   Waif has been slow but steady in recovery and yet is 7kg heavier than this time last year which is the difference between life threateningly ill and "too thin".   In some ways, slow recovery seems to me to be logical as Waif will not have to make dramatic alterations to her diet when she gets to her goal weight.  She will just eliminate the between meals chocolate bars and late night ice cream and be left with a healthy, robust diet.

On a completely separate note, I am due back to work next week but have not even spoken to my employers (blush). I had a vivid dream the other night that I set up a charity helping anorexic girls and was giving talks in schools and had at last found something worthwhile to do.  Waif is keen for me to teach at her school...not sure that would be wise, although it would certainly be convenient.

Pictures later.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


We have the metrics from the Maudsley.  Waif has grown a cm and lost 0.3kg but the psych was reassuring about that saying it would be two steps forward, one step back and the graph is going in the right direction.  She also said that growing uses up lots of energy so some weight loss is not surprising, although it means our target is going up.

She gave us the choice of the last week in August, or the third week in September for our next appointment.  We are being brave about going it alone and plumped for the end of September.

Waif was in tears at the appointment as I knew she would be, at the weight loss because she feels she has given it her best.  I know she has, and now she is home I know she will put on more weight.

The psych caught me on the hop by asking what meals I cook.

Sigh, I am not very imaginative.  We generally have McDonalds on a Monday (fishburgers), salmon on a Tuesday as it is delivered that day, some sort of chicken the next day - usually roasted with some lemon and garlic or in a creamy sauce or as fajitas ( I don't eat meat so have refried beans in my fajitas), some sort of vegetarian dish on a Thursday like Thai noodles, cheese and tomato toasties or pasta pesto, then some kind of red meat on Friday (? bolognaise, lasagne, steak, sausages).  Then there will be a curry on Saturday night and a roast on Sunday.

I can see I should expand my repertoire!  It will be easier in September with Older Daughter away as she is the one who dislikes rice and pasta so we will be able to have dishes like risotto and ravioli.

Apart from whether Waif has put on weight or not, we do not seem to discuss much at the Maudsley. It seems to work on the weightwatchers principle alone.  There again, Waif has no obvious OCD tendencies, trauma or underlying depression so I am not sure what else they could work on. I guess I don't care HOW it works, I just care THAT it works.

Hmmmm... I do appreciate how very lucky we are that the world leading centre, the Maudsley Hospital, is on our doorstep and available to us for free.  I can't imagine how I would have tackled September to December  2009 without that crutch as I had faith in them.  I know I would always have fought for the best possible provision for Waif, and did stuff at home too (taking a break from work, moving her to a new school) but I am lucky that te best treatment landed on our laps so easily.  I am glad we didn't go for the private route (we have insurance and so could have chosen this) which would have involved in patient treatment at The Priory.  Being an inpatient, whilst sometimes vital, sounds miserable and life altering, without being wildly effective long term.  Whilst Waif has spent considerably longer putting on her weight (goodness, 10 months to put on 7kg), she is now in good eating habits and I am fairly confident that she will not relapse in the near future - whilst she is still at home, that is.

Maudsley again

We are off to the Maudsley again this afternoon.  Just Waif and me - my husband is working and Older Daughter is on a course.

Waif's goal was 46kg but she weighted herself yesterday and was 43.5kg so we are going to miss that target by some margin unfortunately which Waif will find hard.

I appreciate my commentators telling me to treat this seriously.  I can assure you that I do!  I have given up a year of work to devote myself to making Waif well and it dominates my day, every day.

On the other hand, I also feel that for long term recovery, and for her own mental health, Waif needs to have a life OUTSIDE and APART from anorexia.  I want that side of her life to grow and the ED part to shrivel.  Waif's weight loss in France was, she says, not due to her not eating everything she was offered.  She blames it on her need for SO many calories to maintain her weight and she did not have access to the limitless chocolate bars we now have at home (I try to remind myself that teeth are secondary to survival).

The whole experience was part of Waif's non ED life:  she saw how other families live ( including 5 hours of dictee and other school work on weekdays throughout the Summer!) and improved her ability to mix with others - negotiating with the cousins where she was not given the special privileges accorded to her at home owing to her status as "not well" and "not to be upset" - and improved her French.  

So, it was a difficult call, but all in all the French Exchange was a worthwhile interlude.  I am NOT saying that her weight loss was acceptable BTW and she will not be going on the Christmas Ski Trip unless she is 48kg by then.

We saw an incredibly thin girl walking in the park today.  Waif and I both agreed that she looked really dreadful - skin and bones, poor girl.

"I am not that thin" said Waif, slightly tentatively.  And indeed she is not.

"No" I agreed "but you were honestly like that at Christmas when we were all so very worried about you.  You look so much healthier and more beautiful now."

She does.  

Her skin now has back its youthful glow and the mottled purple veins on her thighs and arms have disappeared.  I hope she too looks back at photos of when she was skeletal with horror and not with nostalgia.

In fact, this morning someone in a shop suggested that Waif takes up modelling.   Hmmm.... whilst I am aware that any connection with the model industry would be disastrous for anyone with ED, I am using this as an aid.  Waif knows that she would need to be a good 4 inches taller than she is now to be a model, and she knows she must eat to grow.  Short term, therefore, perhaps I can use this to my advantage.

We went to my in-laws earlier this week and Waif's grandparents reckon she looks fine now.  Hmmmmm..... at 43.5kg I think she is JUST still in the anorexic range and without doubt underweight. They were trying to be kind and friendly but I am worried that they can believe that Waif is currently an acceptable size.  I had to explain to them that long term recovery is strongly linked to reaching a proper 100% target weight which they no doubt would consider fat but that Anorexia has a 25% death rate and that all I care about is Waif being healthy not, in their opinion, slim.  Their judgment is very difficult to cope with.

Waif's Grandpa you might think to be slim himself but he is not!   He has always been very tubby.  He just believes that girls should be tiny.  He looked very shocked when I said that Waif needs to put on another 5kg before we go to maintenance.  Waif's Grandmother seemed to take that on board a little and plied Waif with chocolate brownies when she went out for surfing lessons in the afternoons.  Also, to be fair, her Grandpa cooked her steak and chips with Bearnaise sauce (all home made).  Yum.

2 hours to go........

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Home from France

Waif is home!    I am sooooooo proud of her adventures.  Given that she was so trepidatious about going, the fact she lasted the whole trip is fabulous and in no small part due to the kindness of her host family - not to mention their 4 splendid homes around France: Parisian townhouse, country house near Versailles and then their chateau and pool in the South.  All the cousins were staying with their grandparents so there were 8 of them ranging from 4 years old up to 18.  Waif at nearly 14 fitted in fine  :-)

She is looking definitely thinner (and browner) than when she left, but immediately on arrival at Gatwick, she wanted to go straight to Marks and Spencer to buy herself a sandwich and a piece of cake.  Probably for my benefit :-)  but very sweet of her.  She said she had found it difficult that she could not help herself to ice creams and chocolate bars during the day and that that was why she had lost weight.

Her next appointment at the Maudsley is 5 August so we have to make sure to top Waif up again if she is not to have a miserable visit.  It also makes me realise that, if she were older, Waif would not be ready for 6th form boarding or for residential university.  We still have a way to go.

Whilst Waif was away, and OD elsewhere, I stayed at Champneys  :-)   and eating, running and relaxing.  These are the views from my room:

It was incredibly peaceful and enjoyable, but I am glad my girls are home now.

We are off to Devon today for a few days to see grandparents and then home for Waif's 14th birthday (yikes, I need to buy her present) and then away to Lake Garda for 10 days.  Our lives are so perfect, we just need Waif to be a proper size to complete the picture.