Saturday, March 21, 2015

Canada: Recovery Takes Longer than A Few Weeks

Eating Disorders are brain-based, biological illnesses with a strong genetic component and a psychosocial influence. They are not disorders of choice, vanity or family dysfunction. As with autism and schizophrenia, we don't know everything, but we do know we were wrong about a lot for a very long time. Help us challenge stigma and fight for resource parity for these deadly disorders!
Canada: Recovery Takes Longer than A Few Weeks

I have been the stepmother of a young adolescent since July of 2011. She was seventeen when her father and I married, and had already been suffering from bulimia for two years; she would regularly binge eat and throw up afterwards. Sometimes as many as six times a day. Initially, I think she started binging and purging to stay thin.

In early July of 2013, she had an appointment for an evaluation at CAMH. When we arrived at 11am she had both drugs and alcohol in her system and were told that the clinic would not offer any eating disorder treatment because of this. We were told that she must be drug and alcohol free before any treatment could be started. At the time, we felt clueless as to how to get her to adhere to his condition.
Just a couple of days after this, her father called 911 as she told him that she couldn’t remember how many prescription pills she had taken. She was admitted under form T1.   She was then admitted to the alcohol detox program at CAMH which she attended for four days and was released.

Between July and September that year,  she went to live with her Mom, who attempted to control her eating disorder by placing her own bed in front of the refrigerator. She did this so that she could guard it overnight, in order to stop her daughter from binge eating and purging.

Around the middle of September, she was accepted to live at the Ingles House with five other young woman. She continued to be drug and alcohol free at this time, but was receiving no support regarding her eating disorder.

Just a month later, in October, she was asked to leave the Ingles House due to her disruptive eating disorder behaviours.

In November, she came back to live with us at our house and stayed until late January of 2014. Her eating disorder seemed  worse than ever. Finally, in February 2014, she was placed in an inpatient program at TGH. She started to show great improvement, but it seemed like too little too late; we had waited such a long time for her to finally receive the help she needed.

At the end of February she was moved on to the outpatient five-day program. She did fairly well, except for some “slip ups”. We tried to get some information from the program at TGH to help with her recovery process as her caretakers, but none of the administrators or doctors responded. The only source of direct information we were able to get  was at Sheena’s place and from the internet. She then moved on to an outpatient two-day program. in March, and in April she was dismissed from this program.

After the outpatient treatment stopped, her eating disorder worsened again. We paid for some private therapy sessions, but she showed no improvement at all.  We finally resorted to removing all of the food from the house. In October she moved out to  share an apartment with a girl-friend.
In February, 2015, she admitted to her father that her eating disorder was totally out of control and that she was afraid for her life. She was dangerously thin. In an attempt to try and help her, he went to TGH to find out if she could again be admitted into the eating disorder program. Only because of his efforts, was she evaluated on in late February and started on a three week, five-days-a-week outpatient program at TGH at the beginning of March. 

The question remains: What will happen after the three weeks are up?

It deeply concerns me that a person, and especially a young adolescent with a life-threatening eating disorder, is not able to understand the protocol to be followed at CAMH. There is no communication at all to the caretaker or parent unless written consent is given from the patient on the hospital form by the doctor in the presence of the caretaker. This system creates a dangerous situation for any person suffering from an eating disorder as it meant that it is hard for them to continue treatment once they are dismissed from the inpatient facility.

I question why there are there so few inpatient beds for people with eating disorders available? The inpatient program really made a difference, but because there was never a follow up treatment or involvement plan for the caretakers, it had little effect in the end.

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