Friday started like any other day and ended with me being rushed to emergency.
I woke up and groaned, clutching my head and stomach. I was in agonizing pain. Another post-purge hangover. Another pizza box on the floor; a visible reminder of my poor decisions the night before. I had starved so much and then snapped and binged in the middle of the night. I got up eventually, revived myself and went about the day as usual – work, coffee, restriction.
That evening my boyfriend and I went to a dinner party at his friends’ house. I drank nearly a whole bottle of wine with dinner which is not unusual for me. Somewhere towards the end of the meal, I started to feel unwell. The rest of the night is a blur and what I know of it in detail, has been relayed to me by my boyfriend. The friends started a fire outside for us to sit around and that is when he says I began to panic and be agitated. I went upstairs to purge dinner and quickly realized that I was in agony. My stomach hurt and even after purging, I felt like I couldn’t stop vomiting. I felt like I had been drugged. I lost track of time. I went upstairs and threw up twice more which I only told him about when he put me in the car after he realized that something was wrong with me.
He drove me to the hospital in the middle of the night. I cried hysterically and kept asking him to pull over so I could vomit. I crouched by the side of the truck sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating. He kept putting me back in the truck and eventually I started throwing up uncontrollably in a vehicle moving at 120 kms/hr. There was vomit everywhere: all over his truck, all over him, in my hair and smeared across my face and clothes. I was too far gone to care.
He tells me that when we got to emergency, I opened the door, stepped out and immediately collapsed face down on the ground. He checked my pulse which was faint and ran inside to get a nurse and a wheelchair. I came too when he picked me up and put me in the wheelchair. I don’t remember passing out. I continued crying hysterically as they wheeled me in. I was confused not knowing where I was or how I got there. I had lost track of time. He told me 4 hours had elapsed since the end of dinner and that was the last thing that I could remember clearly. Everything after dinner remained blurry and even now, I can only remember snippets of the evening.
They admitted me right away. The nurse took my medical history and I asked my boyfriend to leave the room so that I could tell her honestly about my eating disorder. I was too embarrassed to have him hear the disgusting details of my life. She reprimanded me and told me I was most likely severely dehydrated with an electrolyte imbalance. She made note of the starving, bingeing, purging (including vomiting blood) and laxative abuse. She sent the doctor in a while later and my boyfriend left the room as the doctor questioned me. He instinctively knew that if he stayed, I wouldn’t tell the doctor the truth when he asked about my medical history that they nurse had just taken.
The nurse began a barrage of vital checks (blood pressure too low; heart rate too high), urine samples (not pregnant), blood work (elevated liver enzymes consistent with drinking alcohol) and stomach x-rays (inconclusive ? gallbladder). They hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of anti-nausea medication, re-hydration solution and an anti-anxiety drug. The entire time, my boyfriend didn’t leave my side through the small hours of the morning. He held my hand while I cried as they put needles in, covered me with warm blankets to stop the shaking and told me that I had to let him take care of me because he was not going anywhere. I was so distraught and was conscious of the fact that I didn’t want him to see me in this state.
After almost five hours, they discharged me from hospital and let him take me home, but not before another long lecture from the nurse about my ED. She told me I needed help and warned me of the danger I was in. She said that tonight could have been a close call if my boyfriend hadn’t had the presence of mind to rush me to the hospital. She reminded me that heart attacks from electrolyte imbalances are common in bulimics and many of the symptoms that they couldn’t diagnose they believed were complications from ED.
My boyfriend drove me home and it was almost 5am by the time we got there. He put me in the shower and washed vomit out of my hair, all the while holding me up because I could barely stand. Somehow, I knew without him saying, that he loved me. The next day I was weak and disoriented. He lay next to me and asked about my ED. My heart pounded as we had the conversation I hoped we never had to have. He asked about how much I was purging and what he could do to help me. I lay there feeling numb and overwhelmed. He told me he wanted me to be well because he was falling in love with me and wanted to grow old with me. The things about me that I thought would make him run didn’t. The man wrapped his arms around me instead and kissed me.