Weeks 1 & 2: Semantics, Politics, & Technology - An Elective Course for a Degree in the Science of Eating Disorders

The team of doctors, nurse practictoner and registered dietician and nutritionist, staged (what could appear from the outsider to be), an intervention upon my arrival at the hospital’s general medicine unit. They gathered in front of my bed. One of the members appeared a few days later for the first time, as part of the sector of doctors whose specialty I still remain cynical about. He is less a doppleganger and more so a sibling of Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Red hair and hipster haircut and glasses frames that are reminiscent of the 1960s, he is the most straight forward person in his clan. For some reason, when I made eye contact with said person, I trusted him, just as I had trusted the attending doctor despite my initial impression being one of cold vacancy.

I do not know if I am seeking palliative care from this bunch. I am unsure if I want their validation because they are fellow academics, or are the authorities by role and position, or if there is something more altruistic - like the abstract concept of kinship and trust. I seek their guidance and resist the urge to be considered another patient all at the same time. I feel like I am just another patient, or perhaps case study, rather than a proxy family member. What exactly my expectations are from these people is lost on me. They are simply the bearers that be.

They are Leos - renditions of that fictional character on Aaron Spelling’s Charmed. His character is mortal and immortal all at once. A former armed forces physician, Leo dies at war but is awarded with wings - angelic wings - and becomes a white-lighter- someone who heals and guides. His love for one of his charges, could be made parallel to these doctors and one of their patients. This fictional requited love, however, is against the rules of Heaven. In the fictional character’s case, he has a love for one of the Charmed Ones, Piper, and a brotherly love, (not to be confused with Philadelphia because the Halliwell Manor is famously located in San Francisco,) toward Piper’s sisters, Pheobe played by Alyssa Milano, Prue played by Shannen Doherty, and later, Paige played by Rose McGowan.

The attending physician who graduated from medical school after my brother had, and likely finished his 2-year internal medicine residency not even 2 years ago, seems to think I am seeking the aforementioned bond between me and the members of “the team,” a circulating cohort that has a weekly and sometimes, daily, turnover. I look him squarely in the eye, turn my neck slightly and motion toward my parents with a crooned neck, and upward-directed gaze. I tell him I have all the connections I need. That part of my life was not lacking. What was lacking was medicine and its ingestion. Food and beverage was and is my primary form of medicine, the second was a sedentary lifestyle, and the third part was medical monitoring for possibly fatal repercussions that are part and parcel of re-feeding.

I have been ordering from avant-garde places in Manhattan - places that I have always wanted to try. I have had my two full pieces of toast, my favorite protein bar that though is calorically dense, is also exactly like eating a bar of freshly battered fudge, my favorite cashew butter that could be mistaken for icing or even frosting, to the naked eye. My parents have been shuttling food back and forth since my hospital arrival. I have had delightful cups of NYC-deli coffee - light, smoothly roasted, and full of flavor. I have had smoothies - first once a day, then twice, and now three times. They consist of 1 cup of whole milk and half a cup of vanilla ice cream with whey protein powder and fruits. I have remained seated or reclined - movement is nonexistent.

As I see the numbers on the scale slowly creep upward, I become motivated. As I see my cheeks plump and fill out in multi-planar directions, I start to fake-smile in the mirror to a less alien-like demeanor facing me. My outward appearance and energy do well to mask the nausea, bloating, distention, and gastric distress that I feel. The clawing at my bowels - once emptied - is indescribably harsh. I feel like my innards have been scraped and sanded down to a vacuous tube, a barren gut, and it is as if I shaved my legs without any type of lathering or soap so that the razor scrapes the legs.

All is ok.