Each family that I have the privilege of working with is heroic in its own way. Refeeding a child is hard work—which is probably the understatement of the year to those who are in the midst of it. When you, as a parent, are confronting the fear of eating induced by an eating disorder, monsters feel like they are being unleashed in your own home, from a child you used to think you knew. Wrestling your child back from the all encompassing, vice-like grip of an eating disorder is a Herculean task. As overwhelming as it may feel, however, it is doable. Don’t run for the hills. Instead, read the inspiring story below.
A very young patient of mine developed a fear of eating after having a medical incident which involved choking episodes. The fear of choking led to a gradual elimination of many and finally all foods and liquids and significant weight loss. When this patient first walked into my office, none of us—myself, her parents, her pediatrician—were certain if hospitalization could be avoided. She was immobilized by fear. The great news is that, with proper intervention, this patient is on the road back to health.
At first, every meal and every snack was a battle. That meant, getting to school late some days, homework left unfinished, later bedtimes, earlier wake-up times, school lunch with mom and disruption of almost all of the family’s typical routines.