one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When they make you get an EGD February 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 4:32 pm
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This is what you would have witnessed had you come with me to get my exploratory esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) this week.

“Put these on” she said as she reached into an old blue locker and handed me a plaid pastel hospital gown and a pair of aqua socks, “I will be back to get you in a minute.” I waked into a small pastel carpeted stall, and drew the pastel curtain closed behind me. There must have been a sale on pastel décor when this office was being furnished; nearly everything looked like an Easter egg. With my body resting on the pale blue wall and my black hair covering my face, I offered up a prayer. I did not know exactly what to pray for; I did not want them to find anything wrong with me, but, on the same token, I wanted answers. Sometimes you do not have to know what you want when you pray, because God knows and will work it out for His good.

After I changed, the nurse came to take me to my bed. This is when the terror started to sink in—this was happening whether I wanted it to or not. The nurse tucked me into the white sheets like some sort of sterile burrito, hooked me up to a computerized blood pressure cuff, slipped a heart monitor on my finger, pulled up the railings so I did not tumble out of bed,  and started an IV in the crook of my arm. Then came the questions:

“So, why are we doing the EGD today, Rhea?”

Is it not on the paper? “Well, my food has been ruminating, I have had horrible heartburn and the belching makes me sound like a dirty trucker.” I often find myself using humor to disguise my fear and shyness.

She laughed, “OK, well, I am going to go through a list of symptoms and you stop me when one of them applies to you. Heartburn?”


“Excessive gas or bloating?”


“Nausea or vomiting?”

“Well,” I hesitated, “I have an eating disorder,” I hate saying the words out loud. “And one of the behaviors associated with that is purging. Plus the whole rumination of the food thing I have got going on here.”

“So you’re bulimic?”

“No, I have a diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. I purge, but do not binge. I restrict, but I am not underweight. I do not fit into a specific label of eating disorder as most people would view it.”

“But that isn’t active anymore, right? Like, you’re not doing that anymore?”

I cannot understand why, but I got very defensive of my ED at that moment. I felt stereotyped—which is something I find that I often feel due to my EDNOS diagnosis. For so long I felt like a fraud as an eating disordered person due to my EDNOS diagnosis, and assume other people feel the same way about me. My ED brain immediately fed me the message (pun intended) that she asked if my ED was still active because I was so fat; like it was unbelievable that I would have an ED. I replied, “I am in recovery, but it is still very much an active part of my life that I am trying to stop.”

“But you see someone for that right? You’re getting help?”

No lady, I thought I would give it a go on my own…seriously? No one can go it alone when recovering. “Yes, I see a therapist every week and it is going quite well.” I was so upset at the way I  perceived I was being treated that I do not recall any of the other questions. I know the questions stopped however, because she laid a warm blanket on me, closed yet another pastel curtain around me and called the doctor in to explain the procedure.

Next, my doctor pulls back the pastel curtain and sits on the end of my bed. “So, what are we doing today?” he asks.

Really? No one here knows why I am here today? Do you not write things down in that chart you carry around? Again, I explained my symptoms and why the test was being done. I said, “My food is ruminating on its own unrelated to my purging.”

“So you’re bulimic?” I just gave up on explaining and said yes. Why would it matter anyway? Clearly no one here understands EDs. The nurse stayed after the doctor left and started in with more inane commentary.

“If only we could get you to like yourself. Then you wouldn’t have to do this” she said, clearly referring to my eating disorder, “I wish I had enough willpower to have an eating disorder, but I love food too much. And this is coming from a fat person, but you’re not fat. I hope you’re seeing a professional about this. This isn’t something you can do your whole life. If you would just accept yourself this could all be behind you.” She went on and on without much acknowledgment on my part. Finally she got the hint that her insensitive comments and incorrect perceptions on EDs had struck a nerve and I did not want to talk about it anymore. Rather than let us sit there in silence waiting for the doctor to return, she decided to strike up another round of thrilling conversation. After rechecking the blood pressure cuff that was cutting off my circulation, she grabbed my wrist. “Whose initials are those?”

“No one’s actually. I think it is somewhat tacky to write other people’s names on your body. That word is oo-do-ge. It is the Cherokee word for hope.”

“Oh are you Cherokee?”

No lady, I just thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to put Cherokee words that do not mean anything to me on my wrist? So I did.” I nodded and thought it was good that she did not see the NEDA symbol on my ankle.

“That’s cool. Do you know you can get scholarships for being Indian?”

“Yes, unfortunately, I do not have a record of my Cherokee lineage so I was unable to apply for those scholarships despite my being 1/8th Cherokee.” The angrier I get the more technical my vocabulary gets. I tend to try to stay level-headed during arguments by trying to find the right words to express my anger in a productive way.

Finally the doctor came in, gave me the sedation and I did not have to listen to their conversations anymore.

I woke up in yet another pastel room sitting next to my cousin Kylie. She, thankfully, was able to take me home that day and get me out of that doctor’s office.

I do not remember the doctor coming in after the procedure thanks to the drug induced stupor into which I was put. However, he gave me a paper with some pictures and said there was nothing wrong with me. The paper read “It is likely that her history of bulemia is contributing her to symptoms.” Seriously, bulEmia…he cannot even spell it!


So I left the office with a huge medical bill, doctors/nurses who do not understand EDs, huge blood bruises on my arm where the blood pressure cuff was too tight, and no answers as to why my food is ruminating. On the bright side, nothing is wrong with me.

Isaiah 43:5

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you”


14 Responses to “When they make you get an EGD”

  1. I have a few appointments with specialists coming up next week and in March and I must say I am not looking forward to disclosing my history of bulimia.
    I almost hate getting the “there’s nothing wrong with you” answer the most because it makes me feel like they think I’m making things up, and I really do just want answers.

    • rheasofhope Says:

      I, too, am often scared when revealing to doctors my history of EDs. One of the things I have learned is that they, as doctors, have likely heard it all. The only way to get answers is to tell them everything…including a history of EDs. I have had many doctors not believe me when it comes to my ED. The thing I kept in mind, though, is that they have to know about anything that can be contributing to my symptoms. They have to treat the condition they see and go from there; regardless if they understand EDs or not. I hope your tests go well and that you get the answers you need. Stay strong and make sure you tell them everything.

      • Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve never been one to be honest, so now, being honest is still a struggle for me. Especially with medical professionals. I had to fill out some paperwork for one of the specialists and it had a section about eating disorders. It was really foreign to fill it out honestly. But I realize I need to be honest.

  2. That experience sounds really frustrating, and I would have gotten really sarcastic and then run away. The most terrible thing of all is that they spelled “bulimia” wrong.

    • rheasofhope Says:

      Trust me, I wanted to run but my cousin was in the waiting room to take me home and she is 7 months pregnant…so running would be unfair to her. I also hate that the doctor could not spell bulimia; let alone understand that I have EDNOS (not bulimia).

  3. extendedrecovery Says:

    You are so strong. Especially for being so patient with those people, and for following up with the procedure and taking care of yourself. ❤

    • rheasofhope Says:

      Thank you. I often find myself having to explain EDs to uninformed or uneducated people. Although it frustrates me to no end that people do not have any frame of reference on EDs, I take comfort in the knowledge that I have at least enlightened them a little bit on the complicated world of EDs. I hope that by talking more about EDs and raising awareness on them, that more people will understand that they are more complex than once thought and that they deserve more medical attention than they receive currently. Thank you for stopping by and for the compliments. Take care!

  4. Val Says:

    I just wish a popular two-term First Lady would make this an issue or something, What people don’t understand about all this doubtless contributes to further problems. People who suffer from anorexia “should just eat something” but are also “lucky” that they can lose weight. The only thing worse than idiot docs is idiot therapists. Every single therapist I ever had missed the mark.

    • rheasofhope Says:

      I agree that since she focuses on her anti-obesity campaign so much that eating disorders should also be a focus. I am sure that a lack of understanding about eating disorders or perceptions as to the cause/continuation of the disease is what is fueling these negative views towards the eating disordered community. I feel that with more discussion, education and awareness, people will be get to comprehend the nature of eating disorders…which will, in turn, lower the stigma attached to them. I am sorry that you cannot find a therapist that understands you. NEDA and psychcentral.com have tools that could help put you in contact with a therapist (or at least a helpline volunteer) who actually understands the complexity of the disease. Best of luck to you. Take care!

      • Val Says:

        Well, every one has an issue. The closer fir would actually be Mrs. Carter who is still HUGE on mental health awareness. I am not in any particular need of a therapist. I’ve been recovered for over ten years and have an amazing support network. Secular psychology is one tool, but most therapists err toward it being their ONLY tool, thus often the therapists I’ve worked with have fixated on one thing or another and INSISTED on (basically) only knocking on the wrong door. After awhile I just got tired of being told what was supposed to help me but never did. Eventually accountability and processing new challenges in a healthy way is where a therapist/client relationship should progress anyway — see previous remark about my support network. I have dear friends who are confessors and prayer partners. I don’t discount the value of therapy to provide important tools for recovery, but that will only get you so far.

      • rheasofhope Says:

        I am glad that you are in recovery. I just started recovery myself, which I why I still rely on therapy as a sounding board for my work at this point. I have a very small network of support people because I do not tell many people about my eating disorder. Basically it consists of my mentor and my best friend. Which, again, means I have to talk many things out with my therapist. I do agree with you on having therapists focus on the wrong thing. I have that had happen to me a lot, and on the fact that therapy will only get you so far. A therapist can tell you what they think you should do all day long. However, recovery relies on more than that. Recovery rests on your own efforts, God’s work in your life, and your willingness to change. I am so glad that you have that in your life now.

      • Val Says:

        Yeah…but you know the folks (regardless of addiction/disorder) who make therapy and recovery their religion. That’s not healthy either. At some point you have to live your life.

  5. I somehow managed to miss this post. (In my defense, my life has been crazy and I haven’t had as much time to read blogs lately.)
    “I wish I had enough willpower to have an eating disorder, but I love food too much. And this is coming from a fat person, but you’re not fat. I hope you’re seeing a professional about this. This isn’t something you can do your whole life. If you would just accept yourself this could all be behind you.”
    Seriously?! “I wish I had enough willpower to have an eating disorder”??? How clueless can you be? Some people just need to learn to stop talking… Stuff like this makes me so mad. I’m sorry you had to deal with someone like this.

    • rheasofhope Says:

      I know!!! That woman needed to quit while she was ahead. I don’t know how she missed the anger rising within me, but she just kept right on talking. The nice thing was, she was the one who gave me the sedative for the EGD…so after she gave it to me I didn’t have to hear her talk anymore. 😉

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