Anorexia Nervosa

Meet Lexi, a 13 year old girl who lives in Marietta, GA. She is in 7th grade at a local middle school. She is a straight A student who has always worked very hard in school. For some time now, she has been complaining to her mother, Mrs. Teller that none of the girls at school want to be friends with her. Mrs. Teller thinks nothing of it, because Lexi was one of the most social children in elementary school. Lexi recently joined the track team in an attempt to meet new people. She goes to practice four days a week, and even runs on her days off. Mrs. Teller has noticed that Lexi has become more irritable and anxious about school in the last few weeks, and never wants to take a lunch to school anymore because she wants to eat the lunchroom food.

As the semester goes on, Mrs. Teller has noticed that Lexi is beginning to lose weight, but assumes that it is because of Lexi's new running hobby. Mrs. Teller and her husband faithfully attend Lexi's track meets, but notice that their daughter spends most of her time alone. All of her teammates are socializing, while Lexi chooses to do extra warm ups and listen to her iPod. What Lexi has not told anyone, is that she feels like she is too heavy and has been exercising excessively and not eating lunch in order to lose weight. All of the popular girls at school are very skinny, and Lexi thinks that if she can lose weight then she might finally fit in with those girls and make friends. Even though the scale in her mom's bathroom shows she has been losing weight, Lexi still feels that she is "fat".

One Friday at practice, a few of the girls on Lexi's team were talking about going to get pizza later that afternoon. One of the girls, Hannah, had been noticing how quiet Lexi was at practice and felt bad that she did not seem to have any friends. Hannah decided to invite Lexi to go with them to eat pizza. Lexi was so surprised to be invited she had no idea what to say at first. However, she did not want to go eat pizza because that would mess up her diet. She politely declined Hannah's offer but said she would see them the next morning at the track meet.

The next morning, Lexi woke up with a very bad headache and felt like her heart was skipping a beat. She did not tell her mom that she was feeling strange because she wanted to run in the meet. Lexi refused to breakfast her mom made for her because she was "nervous about the race". At the meet, Lexi hung out with Hannah and her friends until time for the one mile run. Finally, it was time for Lexi to start her race. As she was running, she started to feel very weak. Soon, her vision was blurring and she fell to the ground just 100 meters short of the finish line. The next time Lexi opened her eyes, she was in a hospital room with fluids flowing in her IV line. There were nurses whispering just outside the door, when finally one came in to ask how she was feeling. As Lexi tried to piece all of the events together, her parents were no where to be found. Lexi was told that they were speaking with a doctor about what happened to her, and would be in to visit soon.

When Lexi's parents arrived, they told her that she had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and that it was important for her to seek treatment at a rehabilitation center.

Lexi's lab values showed that she had an elevated BUN, low RBC count (anemia), leukopenia, hypokalemia (low serum potassium) and low serum estrogen. Lexi was also exhibiting a heart rate of 40 (bradycardia) upon arrival to the hospital. She was severely dehydrated and irritable.

Lexi, with the guidance of her parents and doctor, enrolls in an anorexia recovery program and decides to be proactive about her healing process. Lexi is anxious going into the program, thinking that her progress in school will suffer, but anorexia has been affecting her school performance so she understands it is the best thing. At the treatment center, Lexi receives the physical and emotional support needed to overcome anorexia. She attends daily sessions with a counselor and learns how to choose food options that are healthy, but still provide the nutrition she needs to grow. Lexi needs to be eating around 2,000 calories per day to stay healthy, but was eating around 600 per day before being admitted to the hospital.

Lexi arrived back at school eight weeks after the track meet incident, healed and prepared to handle life as a middle schooler again. She and Hannah eat lunch together and Lexi has no problem eating everything in her lunch bag. Although her track career is over, Lexi is thinking of joining the drama club or band. Throughout her treatment process, Lexi has learned that accepting who you are is an important aspect of establishing close friendships and being content.

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2 years ago
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Well done Rach!