Thursday, February 27, 2014


Note: this is to show how even eating disorder recovery before being weight restored imposes risk. This won't trigger anyone, but it is deeply personal.

November 2006, the now former eating disorders unit at Research Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri has become a temporary stopgap in this trek to find Home. I am literally homeless. I have attempted to leave my mother's house as it is time, we no longer can live under the same roof without one of us going mad, she leaves, and I..well...

That never ends well, now does it?

There are three boys on the unit this time, one a middle aged man tied to a feeding pump, on African-American 17 year old who is confused in this place. He does not have an eating disorder, so this land us upside down and peculiar. He lost his appetite while on Welbutrin (poison) and his frantic mother dumps him off here. I feel sorry for him for a few minutes and then befriend him instantly, because we are of similar background.

The third? Well, the third I find by surprise on early mornings. He is a couple years older than me, a medical student, reading the paper and watching the news. He has grown old before his time but now in these times, what kid hasn't?

I enter without sound, and he looks over, jumps because he is startled. We don't say anything. Then a single question: "How do you just...pop in here and I never see or hear you?"

I look up from my book and shrug, a give him only this: "Years of practice, but you knew that already".

His brow furrows and he closes his paper a clicks the TV off. We are alone, as we have found each other many times before. No one else is awake.

"How do you know that?".

"We are the same. You know this illness is not as advertised, we share and agree in all of Julie's groups. We even gang up on her. Have you listened to your words, because I have".

"No I was sort of caught up in yours".

Silence. I stand up and wander to the craft room. I have work to do, and he turns the television back on.

We continue to alternatively agree and debate, I switch in the middle of a group, we speak in moments alone, but not about each other. Current events. Our equal distaste for the GOP. He is a super leftie liberal and I find this hilarious. Extreme in political views just like everything else!

We leave on the same day, and I know this is not the last I will see of him. We have the good-bye ceremony, and then we part ways.

May 2008, I have learned that Doc Rob will be moving and I am to tell no one. And while we're at it, let's send me back to Kansas City and get re-therapitzed. What's another round? I've known the staff for years and years. They've watched me grow up, curtail bad habits, I sit in the front of a van talking at lightning fast speed to the driver all the way from Columbia to Kansas City. He grabs my single bag and gets the hell out of there. I have worn him out.

I hate check in days.

I don't have to go back to ITA since I spent a month on the adolescent unit refeeding. Through a J tube no one knows I have since it's button and the extension isn't in. I am told strictly not to tell anyone, that while here I will be challenged to eat and not tube feed, blah, blah blah, contraband, contraband, Danielle this is your fifth stay and we go through this every time, you cannot bring these organizers since someone can purge in them, their words fade because I am no longer listening.

Craft room/group room. I walk in and he is sitting there and I stop. His eyes lock with mine.

"I knew you'd be here" we said in unison.

It became a joke. If I or Grady were admitted, the nurses would say it was only a matter of time before the other was also admitted. In fact, we were admitted at the same time on five out of the ten times I was there.

We made a formidable force, the two of us. Groups became debate clubs, he was on his laptop less and stood next to me as I worked with oil pastels for poster after poster that one was used for the Saturday Family Education and I talked through without whirling about and scaring the audience, who was not used to my energy and intensity as I explained the undeniably jarring images and the single staircase to Hope, fraught with broken boards to show the struggle, the fight, and the need for the family to stick by.

Grady and I rarely spoke of anorexia. It was drilled in groups, that ran smoothly at the time. We talked about philosophy, could Socialism work minus the mass murder of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany, the problem with Capitalism, Hilary Clinton or Barak Obama (I said the Clinton's should go back in office, at least then we had a surplus before Bush drained it on The War on Oil, Obama had a lack of experience) the hilarity of on ultra right wing conservative (who is a total sweetheart in all reality) nurse who used to come in just to get mine or his goat with her infuriating views of "entitlements".

She clearly was never poor. Or homeless, as I was to find myself again after my discharge that time.

The first handshake turned into tight embraces after the departing ceremony, and we usually left around the same times.

No one ever gave better hugs. No one.

But outside the hospital, he was impossible to reach. I would give up. I would see him later anyway. But it wasn't the same until September 2012.

I was running this blog. You know some of the story medically. I didn't do the best job, but illness was destroying my body and mind.

Grady, usually impossible to reach, started calling. Daily. More than once sometimes. He became my tether. And as we talked, as we admitted things to each other we never would otherwise, he had moved back to Kansas City to go to nursing school (medical school did not work with such severe eating disorder. This illness destroys things, and people), he wanted to come down to Jefferson City, and we started to make plans. I warned him that I was getting really, really sick and that just made his resolve stronger.

I think he was putting too much of my burden on his plate, that left no appetite for himself and he relapsed into anorexia. So then the support was both ways -- he was enamored with my recovery status (which five years is not that impressive), and I just...with the fact that he came to my emotional rescue.

He was admitted to the EDU at Iowa and we talked for short periods every once in awhile, but when he was discharged out of the blue he confided that, when I got better, maybe I should consider moving to Kansas City. With him.

"Grady...what are we calling this?"

softly..."I'm not sure".

And I would never find out. As I got better, as did he, in the summer time, and the final plans for him to at least come down here were solidified, in July 2013 he passed away.

Sometimes, in photos I don't post anywhere and I am medically in serious trouble, I find orbs. They are a phenomena that cannot even be Photoshopped out. Perfect circle, usually white or gold, very noticeable. In certain circles, it is said that ones that have passed on, when near, use this to make it known.

Do I know that as fact.

Of course not, don't be ridiculous. But the timing is uncanny. And it's only been happened July and after, only on certain occasions and always only before an admission or during. I'm not sure what to think, but it's sacred to me enough that I never show anyone, merely back it up on a flash drive dedicated only to that, then I delete the picture.

I have eight journals he has given me, all of them with long notes and tiny hand writing. All now neatly stored, where I know they are, but no one else can find. I cannot visit my Caringbridge any longer, because I cannot face the sweet comments he wrote. The cards, again, in a safe place. I know the writing, but cannot face it. And for my 27th birthday this June, I will not, for the first time in a long time, be getting any card from him. I will never hear his voice.

And never will I know what could have been.

In loving memory of Grady Carl.


  1. I have known Grady very well and I don't think he was in recovery that summer at all, but that is neither here nor there. I hate to say that ED had an enormous stronghold on Grady with very short lived periods of being better. I met Grady when he was full of hope of becoming a doctor and through the years his goals got smaller, his health declined rapidly and I think so did his hope for recovery. He was the finest human being I ever met and will always be in my heart. I can't wait to see him in heaven! Hold on to your recovery Danielle. You are blessed despite all your trials you are still in the midst in. May Grady rest in peace, I wish I could be too!

    1. I'm sorry if I sound bitter or morbid. Just am in a really bad place!

  2. Yep. Almost had me disable comments for this post. I know Grady was not in the greatest place ever. Neither was I. Sometimes in this life you take chances. You go out on a limb and do things you do not think you can. But you know what? You do it anyway. So be it, he is no longer here. It does not take one moment that we had. It does not take away from what we were shyly moving toward (and what do you call it...?). This post was not about the specifics of an eating disorder and to be honest...I don't care.

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