I am sat here at Huntercombe Hospital writing hopefully my last blog post as an inpatient. So, I thought to myself what a perfect time to write about my experience of being admitted.
My time since being at Huntercombe Hospital Cotswold Spa has certainly been the toughest journey of my life but with the company of other patients and staff to wind up there have been many funny moments shared too.
I am so thankful for what all the staff have done for me and also how the other patients have been so supportive. But I also cannot wait to be discharged and finally live my life… without the strict hospital rules
- No bathroom privacy (toilet and shower) until no longer at risk of collapse
- Post meal obs till earned back privilege
- Constant check (5, 10 or 20mins)
- No walks or when weights stabilizing maximum of 20min walks
- Set time limits to eat
- People watching you to check your breathing whilst you sleep
- No internet access or iPhone
- Meal support
- Having to empty pockets if staff suspected hidden food
- Room searches
- And constant note documenting of everything you have said and done
Yes, in a way, without this I would never have even begun recovery and be where I am today, but when you reach a certain point, going on longer home leave and at a healthier weight it gets extremely frustrating not being able to do everyday things like making a drink or going out in the garden for fresh air on your own…
The things that I once took for granted, I now appreciate so much more. Yes, it sounds cliché, but “you actually don’t know how much you love something until it is taken away from you”. I never thought I took things for granted because I have always been a thankful person but this experience has really opened my eyes to what I have and how lucky I am to be alive.
Anyway enough with my inspirational speeches….
I will explain to you an average Tuesday in hospital, what I now consider worse than a Monday – (WEIGH DAY – aka: RISKY TUESDAY!)…
- Wake up 6:30 get in the lift for weigh in
- Blood Pressure taken sitting and standing and temperature recorded
- Strip down, get body mapped (record any bumps, scratches, bruises etc..)and step on scales to see the dreaded number
- Leave the room crying with regret
- Go upstairs and helplessly try to gain a few extra minutes sleep before getting showered and ready for breakfast
- BREAKFAST 8:30
- Collect what I needed for education
- Crawl into education after a lot of encouragement from staff and a stern word from the teacher
- Stare at the same magnolia walls for hours trying to figure out an excuse to leave the room.
- SNACK! 11:00 No not the break from education I was looking for.
- 11:15 back to education
- “Oh no i need the toilet” (gets escorted by staff and watched closely through a gap in the door)
- Walk back to education finding any distraction possible to avoid returning (the fish tank, chatting to the lovely receptionist or hiding till found)
- Get told off for having my legs crossed under the table (apparently its bad for your health?)
- LUNCH 12:30 yes another half an hour of shoveling food and listening to the same old songs on the radio
- 1:00 Arts with the therapist… the best part of the day! (Making dream catchers, painting etc..)
- Return to education arrgghh!or if you’re lucky PILATES!
- Care planning – where the doctors decide if you can have leave, walks, trips out and also discuss issues (basically a room full of people integrating you)
- SNACK – and finally the end of education, thank goodness!
- 1 hour of post meal obs (not allowed out of the sight of staff)
- Cause mischief with the other patients or scrapbook
- Walkies! Time out in the boring village of Broadway
- DINNER 5:30 – wow this food reminds me of how much I miss my mum’s cooking
- 1 hour post meal obs
- Chill and watch tv
- SUPPER! Same old meal plan…..day in day out!
- Go upstairs for meds
- Watch the staff as they try to calm everyone down and get us to behave
- Watch TV – usually some crime programme about Luton – (near my town)
- Refuse to go to bed
- Eventually go to bed
- Repeat the same routine on Wednesday
In short EAT, SLEEP, MEDS, REPEAT! Or boring long days, revolving around food with no escape of focusing on Anorexia. It wasn’t fun but it helped me. It made me discover more about the reasons behind developing an eating disorder and find new techniques to cope with situations. I have learnt a lot about myself through this experience and although I am nowhere near recovered I am a lot better than I was.
A strange thing about being an inpatient and one of the questions a lot of people would ask is if it is really a good idea to put a group of people suffering from anorexia together? With the risk of competition being a trait in the illness I understand why people ask this. However, In my opinion it was really helpful…
- I realised I was not the only one struggling with what others see as simply just eating
- I could talk openly (something I never did before) about how I felt with people who understood me
- I managed to rebuild my social skills with my worst nightmare pre admission being living away from home with a house full of people
- I have rebuilt my relationships with family and friends
- I have realised how much is a normal amount to eat (something I didn’t know before)
- My trips out to cafes made me realise it was normal to eat in front of people and treat yourself occasionally
- We had group therapy (which although usually consisted of therapist telling us to “externalise the eating disorder and draw it” whilst we drew a frog and named it Jeffrey we did help each other through our different struggles)
- And lastly the fact that all the control was taken away from me so anorexia had no influence in decisions really helped me move away from it.
Knowing that a few months ago I had no choice but to go inpatient and now I am at a stage were I am going to be discharged in two weeks just makes me reflect on the experience as a whole. Yes, inpatient was the last resort but it has benefitted me more than anything. I’ve gone from a girl with no motivation to recover to a girl out enjoying life and eating ice-cream. I think this just shows you “No matter how low you hit there is always a way up!”
Love Kirsty xoxo