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My Thirty Four Year Battle With Anorexia And Bulimia, life secrets of Lori Cotten

Updated on August 26, 2012

Living and Loving Life

On The Back Roads In Bayfield
On The Back Roads In Bayfield

Thirty Four Years, It's Wake Up Time

Just over four years ago I was scheduled for a hysterectomy. I was prepped and waiting in the pre-op room when one of the Lab personnel came in with the news. He, along with my doctor, suggested that I go ahead and get dressed; it was advised that I reschedule for a later date. My Lab results showed a very low potassium level and my electrolytes were off.

Just prior to the scheduled date for the operation we had been on a 14 day Mediterranean Cruise. I was suffering from a bug, so I said. I had a bad case of diarrhea; it must have been from the cruise ship. Knowing well why I was suffering, I didn't want to let on to anyone else that I had taken laxatives to try to overcompensate from all the eating I'd done on the ship. I'd also used bulimic behavior every chance I could. Not that that was anything new to me; I'd been doing all this for decades.

Now suddenly I was face to face with reality. Ken, my husband, made me promise to him that before they put me under anesthesia I would come clean with the nurse anesthetist. He was adamant about this as he felt it may complicate things if they didn't know about my bulimic past. After several days of eating many bananas and taking some Imodium AD, the day of surgery came upon me once more. Ken held my hand as he looked directly into my eyes reminding me of the promise I'd made.

I'd been given something that made me a bit groggy, I kissed Ken and they took me for a ride on the gurney down the cold and sterile hallway of the hospital. I looked up to my left and tried to talk to the nurse anesthetist, " I have to tell you something." She smiled at me, and most likely, thought I was about to tell her about a dream I'd had in wonderland that involved a lot of goofy characters and a wild rabbit. "I have to tell you something." I said it again. They now had me situated inside the operating room; she began more medication in my IV. My left arm was feeling cold and becoming tight, tight as if it were about to explode ice cubes under the sheet that covered it. I complained and she lifted the sheet. Now higher than a kite, I saw my left forearm; it was as big around as the calf on my leg.

She restarted the IV in my arm, apparently the anesthesia wasn't making it to my veins. The IV site may have been bumped in transport from the ride through the elevator doors. The next thing I remember, I was in my hospital room. It was dark and I was extremely lightheaded. The young lady sitting next to my bed was keeping close watch over me," Much of the medication is still working it's way out of your system, it's pretty normal that you feel a bit goofy." She asked me if I was in any pain, and then she told me she was the one that had to restart my IV. "Oh yeah, my arm was as big as my leg, it sorta' scared me." She was responsible for the anetetisia; she knew well how to stop it when things went smooth, but wanted to pay close attention to me until it was all out of my system, seeing as it was filling up the tissue in my arm instead of the vein. I had a hard time staying awake, however she continued to talk to me.

"Lori, how long have you been Bulimic?" My head turned away, then looking back at her I asked, "Did you talk to my husband?" "No." " Well, then how do you know?" She had the most calming smile on a face that almost seemed Angelic to me. She softly replied, "You told me, just before you fell to sleep." Everything was so distorted, I only remembered wanting to tell her something, and everything became so uncomfortable, my left arm was cold as snow and huge; that's all I could remember. She continued to sit with me, talking a little about the slight complication with the IV. It was the softness of her disposition that I remember most. No matter what she was doing, I trusted her and felt a warmness from her that was almost heavenly. "You have to stop Lori, if you don't, it will kill you." I listened as tears fell silently from the corners of my eyes.

I never saw her again. If I was to run into her at the supermarket, I wouldn't reccognise her. This stranger came into my life and literaly had my life in her hands. She showed me kindness when I couldn't comprehend what was actually going on. This stranger spoke to me in a firm and loving tone. She opened my eyes to the fact that I'd been struggling from an eating disorder for thirty years. She reinforced to me how dangerous it was and that if I didn't stop it would kill me.

That wonderful stranger that I barely remember by face stepped into my life on December 7th 2008, and was able to wake me up to the fact that I'd best start living.

Within four months of having that hysterectomy, the good Lord made available to me all the necessary tools to begin living my life without the eating disorder in control of me. Oh, yes, I fought like a mule; as much as I despised living with the secret of ED, it was my truest companion. Oh what a trip I've been on since that day; the day I promised my husband I'd tell a total stranger about my bulimic behavior.

Michael, Mom, Andy
Michael, Mom, Andy

Realization Of The Life I've Lead

“ There are starving children in Africa, be grateful and finish your plate”

I’d heard it since the day I was born, the phrase that haunts me to this day. I know my parents were simply teaching us to be grateful. What they didn’t know was this was an invitation to overindulge and pretend in your mind that it’s the right thing to do. It’s a wonderful way make an excuse to overeat when the portion size at the restaurant is more than the human stomach is designed to hold. It’s a fabulous way for a person who has developed an eating disorder to binge only to be followed up with self induced vomiting and or over use of laxatives and syrup of ipecac.

When my Andy was born he survived on the bottle of enfamil that I prepared for him with love and kindness hoping he wouldn’t be scarred for life because I didn’t have the desire to breast feed him. I was aware that the mothers milk demanded sufficient nutrition from the mothers consumption of food. With my roller coaster of restricting my food intake and self-induced vomiting I knew that I wouldn’t maintain that level of nutrition. He would generally drink the entire amount of formula in the bottle although at times he would fall fast asleep before it was finished. As he grew he demanded more and the portions were adjusted. He drank until he was satisfied, he didn’t overindulge, he didn’t seem to have the desire. Somehow baby’s have been designed to know when to start and more importantly when to stop.

What I’ve learned in the recent past is that somewhere along the way I lost my human instinct to know when to start and many times when to stop. I’d forgotten that my body actually uses the food that I eat to work properly. I’d forgotten that my body uses calories to pump the blood that runs through my veins, it burns calories when I breathe the air that keeps me alive. I didn’t realize that if I constantly throw up what I eat my bowels forget how to discard correctly.

I was guilted at the dinner table from turning my nose up at the foods I didn’t care for. The same foods that others didn’t have and never would have. In my mind food was a luxury not a necessity and it became evil in my years of puberty. I was afraid of food and what it did to me. I decided to leave it alone. My body wasted away from the constant starvation, my Dad sat at my bedside and begged me to was too late, I no longer knew how.


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      Jodie 3 years ago

      Very valid, pithy, sucitncc, and on point. WD.

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      Sami 3 years ago

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    • Lori Cotten profile image

      Lori Cotten 5 years ago

      I will always be dealing with an eating disorder, although, I refuse to let it run my life any longer. Thank you for your words, and thank you also, for your email. Take care and happy writing:)

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      Jennifer 5 years ago from Lost...In Video Games

      I hope you are doing well, now. Thanks for sharing.

    • onegreenparachute profile image

      Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

      Thank you for sharing your story; I applaud your courage. Although I have the opposite problem, our enemy seems to be the same.