For the past 6 years or so, I have counted down until I was finally able to attend Vendemmia, an Italian Food and Wine Festival the Italian Society hosts here in Wilmington. It is a once a year event where wines from all over the world are flown in, and local eateries, from the tri-state area mostly, are in attendance. This is a day you plan for: Plan to eat, drink, be full, and merry!
Last year was the first year I was able to attend, I was finally 21, and it was the summer my illness was at its peak. Luckily, I had begun recovery about a month before this event, but still could not pass 350 calories a day. I remember feeling great before leaving the house! In fact, I even took a picture of myself because I felt like hot shit!
Upon arriving at the gates, I stopped dad before meeting up with my godfather, aunt, and cousin, asked dad to hold my hands, bow his head and pray with me. This prayer worked.
I initially was reluctant to drink and nibble on the foods but after spotting the pulled pork sandwiches from Espositos, I grabbed one and took a bite. The remainder of the day was spent eating muffins, cannollis, pasta, pulled pork, and lots of wine. It was quite funny actually. We all assumed my dad and uncle would be hitting up the food, and Aunt Carol and I would be the lushes.
The complete and total opposite happened! I recall a conversation while we were sitting down listening to live music. Aunt Carol and I stood up:
“Where are you two going?” To get more. “Oh, will you fill us up?” No, like more cannolis… “How can you two eat anymore?” “Seriously! I’m stuffed!”
I wound up having an amazing day, and even pulled my uncle, dad, and cousin up to dance with me!
I know, my cousin is super good looking! He’s single by the way 😉
I look back at those pictures, today, completely shocked at my appearance. I looked dead. Like a corpse. I went home that night, in physical pain. My stomach was stretching and it was the most food I had eaten in a year! I attribute Vendemmia 2013 the actual breakthrough of my illness. Since then, I have struggled threw intense highs and lows, seen countless doctors and counselors, multiple breakdowns at work, had to take a 12 week leave of absence, and have come to accept my illness as something to learn from.
I found all these pictures I wanted to share with you of my illness.
I used to send my dad pictures of me treating myself to pieces of cookies and cakes, or sandwiches, no matter how small the bite, just so he and I could feel better.
These pictures were the worse of my appearance. My mom candidly took them. They are shocking, but I feel thats its something that needs to be shared.
I’m blown away that this was ME one year ago!
My first step in the right direction was coming out of my house and going to Church. Church, and my faith have always been core. I spoke with Father Hurley and with his encouragement and listening ears, tried to set me up with counselors and medical professionals. Not only that, but his utter kindness and concern allowed me to maintain an open means of communication with him. To this day, I love filling him in on on my progress.
I met Andy during one of my community rotations, ironically during my Psych rotation. We got to talking and he was the first person I openly admitted to about my eating disorder. I felt so comfortable around him. We began talking and joking around and actually wound up going on a date. I had gained some weight by that time, but Andy made me feel beautiful and normal, not sick and self-conscious. I will always be grateful for Andy and his generosity, kindness, and support!
I also had the support of my Megans. I spent every day with Megan R and Megan G during that rotation, and both lent me their ears when I needed to rant or cry, or just talk. Thanks girls! Its because of Megan R that I love to run and that you get to enjoy those yummy low-carb pizzas! I also met Mike, who pulled me out of my shell and got me to start going out into the world, again! Thanks, Mike!
Kristen, AKA mom, is another woman from clinical who needs to be thanked. She and I worked for the same hospital. We would text when I was having a rough night, she would visit me, hug me, let me cry… One night, I had a panic attack and was sent to ER. She left her unit to sit with me, so I wasn’t alone. Thats a friend! I call her mom because after my dad arrived and the docs walked in, they asked my dad if Kristen was his wife! Ha! I’m pretty excited that October 12, 2013 the one anniversary date of my recovery, will be spent at Kristen’s wedding! (Keep an eye out for the wedding recap).
I was surprised that even nurses and I worked with and girls I went to school with approached me and secretly shared their struggle with eating disorders. Thank you all for making me feel like I wasn’t alone.
Maggie D has been my best friend since high school. When I got sick, I completely isolated myself for months. She took the brunt of my isolation. She never stopped calling me and supporting me, despite the fact that I never returned the favor.
I also need to thank another Meghan. She, too, knew the struggles of being over weight and has found a balance in her life. During my leave from work, I stayed with her in New York and she reintroduced me to foods that I loved! She helped me learn to enjoy myself, again. “Everything in moderation.” I adore this girl and miss her so!
Following New York, you all happened to me. I can not thank everyone- family, friends, co-workers, strangers- enough for the continued support, love, listening ears, endless hugs, and for not giving up on me!
My family has been my rock. It wasn’t always easy to listen to what they had to say. We believe in “tough love.” Frank, dad and my aunts were the ones that really emphasized that practice, while mom was my should to cry on. Nonetheless, they helped pull me up from bottom. Thank you.
I think my battle has made me a stronger person, and a much better pediatric nurse.
Stay tuned for Vendemmia 2013!