Weighty Matters

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Not Eating Over Emotions

on September 10, 2015

Pyxi, one of my precious dogs, is sick.  We battled a nasty bladder infection for several weeks that involved e-coli and required strong antibiotics.  In the course of the infection and the treatment, her kidneys suffered damage.  I noticed her not eating as much – maybe half her daily amount, if that – and she was losing weight.  She had less energy and enthusiasm about taking walks.  Although she’d always take a treat and was excited to see me and cuddle, overall I knew that she was off.  When we went for the followup appointment to verify that the infection was gone, the vet ordered a full blood panel, did another thorough physical exam, rechecked the digital x-rays, etc.  The blood test showed elevated numbers in key things that indicated the kidney damage.  Her kidneys were functioning at about 60%.  The vet prescribed a low protein diet which we followed scrupulously.  She responded by eating more and showing a definite preference for cooked brown rice, pasta, and cooked chicken breast.

I was positive she was getting better so when we checked her weight and blood levels again and found out that her numbers were worse, it really hit me hard.  Overall she continued to eat better and seemed more bright-eyed and energetic, but those damned blood numbers.   The vet put her on a capsule to bind ammonia which reduces the work the kidneys have to do.  I’m monitoring her to see if she gets more lethargic or starts to get sick to her stomach more often or, in general, shows signs of her conditioning rapidly worsening.

I am a wreck.  There is a whole smorgasbord of emotions going on inside me right now. I’m scared, sad, upset, stressed, worried.   Her kidneys might not regain full function, but if that’s the case there are things we can do to sustain her and allow her to continue with a good quality of life.  The most terrifying scenario is if her health continues to worsen.  The mere thought of her declining into full renal failure is more than I can stand to think about right now.

It is difficult for me to focus, but I have to in order to function, so I’m doing it.  When my mind wanders, the emotions well up again and I cry.   I don’t like crying.  I particularly don’t want to do it at home in front of Pyxi.  Our dogs are so keyed into us.  If she senses my upset, she’ll get upset.  She needs my positive energy.

So here comes the dilemma for someone who has an eating disorder for whom emotional eating has always been a coping mechanism.  Not a particularly effective coping mechanism, but it was the one that I had at my disposal.  Stuffing down the emotions with food seemed to enable me to deal.  (Even though that’s not really dealing, I know.)

How do I not eat over my emotions?  It is imperative that I not seek refuge in food and use bingeing of calories or carbs to take the edge off of my upset.

Here’s what I’ve done so far today.  I talked about the situation in my regular acupuncture appointment so that the practitioner could help with my stress channels.  I’m being very careful to continue to write down my food plan and commit to my abstinence from compulsive eating.  If it isn’t on the plan, it doesn’t go into my mouth.  Stress can create stomach acid and for me and many other bariatric patients, stomach acid can sometimes feel like hunger.  For me, keeping hydrated helps.  Maybe flushing water through my stomach not only creates a feeling of fullness but dilutes the ability of stomach acid to form.  I don’t know, but it works, so I’m sticking to it.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m doing my best to rehearse a positive attitude and outlook.  I’m embracing hope that she will improve in the next two weeks or, if not improve, at least hold steady.  She’s a spirited little girl and together with her vet we will fight to help her get well.

Me eating over the emotions is not going to help the situation.  It will only make me feel worse.  The temporary distraction or mock-relief I get from eating crap or eating too much is not a positive action.

Taking good care of myself in this crisis ultimately helps me take better care of Pyxi.

6 responses to “Not Eating Over Emotions

  1. Cathy M says:

    I’m so sorry that Pyxi is not well. We love our fur babies so and would do anything to keep them healthy and happy. I really agree that keeping yourself healthy is the foundation of providing the best care for Pyxi and Nat. I’ll keep you all in my thoughts.

  2. Sorry Pyxi’s kidneys are not doing well. Two great decisions you made: to take care of yourself, and to give Pyxi love. Best to you both.

  3. Holly says:

    Mary, I am so sorry that Pyxi is not doing well. Please know we are all thinking of You and Pyxi and Nat. I hope she comes around soon. I know how You love her so.

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