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Sunday 8 September 2013
I talked to another parent on the phone yesterday that I hadn't spoken to since we were at school together 30 years ago. Another mutual friend (Thanks, J!) had seen her post on her Facebook wall and connected us.
I didn't shilly shally around with social niceties, assessed the seriousness of the situation (I am an amateur but even I know that not eating for 5 days and having one small glass of water for 3 is serious!) and sent the mother this to print out and take to hospital with her, alongside this. She also managed to take Dad, her ex-husband, and they squeaked together as a united team. The result was good and the child has been admitted, "at least for rehydration".
It was a very very long day for the parents and it got me thinking about stigma about eating disorders and how different the pace of decision making and treatment would have been, if this child had not got a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa on her hospital file.
This is a patently ridiculous scenario. If you turn up to A&E with a broken leg, I don't think they expect you to bring the print out from the Intrawebz on how to set it...
Put it another way, if I was the parent of an autistic child who was underweight anyway and had not eaten for days, was severely dehydrated, whose "heart was off" and blood sugars all over the place, I doubt that I would be have been happy being kept waiting for 6 hours. Indeed, when I was admitted to hospital with the same symptoms (but no eating disorder), I was on a drip for rehydration WHILST they were taking my bloods.
What would have happened if a child had come in in this state after playing too much sport on a hot afternoon? Or with alcohol poisoning?
I hate that a parent, with a child who is in a dangerous physical state of health, has to take in the pieces of paper to explain to a doctor how serious this is. They have to somehow access care on a more difficult level than other parents, because of the in-built stigma against people with eating disorders. They have to be the calm, insistent ones, whilst all around them, the Saturday afternoon rugger injuries jump the queue.
This has to change. It really does.