Yep, you read that right. It’s been a stressful few weeks for me. Some of my readers will know that, in 2014, I found out that only one of my kidneys was working. Click here if you want to catch up on the story behind that! As a result, I get an annual check up to make sure that my functioning kidney is still healthy. I want to share my story today, just in case there’s someone reading this who is experiencing something similar. Here’s what happened with my recent health scare and how it triggered my disordered eating.
It started with a normal check up…
Every year, I have blood tests taken which check whether or not my kidney is filtering my blood efficiently. Last year I was told that my kidney was functioning really well on its own. So, you can imagine my shock when my doctor announced in February: “Your kidney functioning has reduced.” Immediately, panic filled my mind. I started to assume the worst and began interrogating my doctor about exactly what had changed.
To put it into context, when you have your kidney function measured, you get a score. Anything above 60 is fine. My last score was 81. My new score was 56. I was devastated. The doctor advised me that I needed to have more blood tests taken, as well a urine test and an ultra sound. He wanted to make sure that my results were accurate.
Google is not a diagnostic tool.
But try telling me that. After my conversation with the doctor, I was consumed with researching Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). After a few weeks of waiting for further test appointments, I had pretty much diagnosed myself with Stage 3a CKD. If my health scare diagnosis were true, I would need to focus on preventing further decline in my kidney function by living a healthy lifestyle. This meant following a whole foods diet and exercising regularly to strengthen my cardiovascular health.
Needless to say, this triggered my disordered eating.
The irony of my relationship with clean eating.
At first, I couldn’t help but laugh at my situation. For 15 years, I had obsessed over only eating foods that were deemed ‘good’ for you. I had tried, and failed, to be a clean eater. Now, having rebuilt my relationship with food, I was potentially faced with the necessity of avoiding processed foods. My mind went into overdrive.
Suddenly, I lost all desire to eat sugary foods. My only focus was to cook from scratch and to try and eat as ‘clean’ as possible. Jarred sauces were out of the question. Alcohol was repulsive. I began exercising 5 times a week and chugging 2 litres of water every day. I was desperate to protect my kidney.
The results were in…
6 weeks after my health scare, I was given my results. My kidney was fine. My new score was above 60 although I wasn’t told exactly what it was. It was likely that I had been dehydrated on the day of the first set of tests. My self-diagnosed chronic kidney disease disappeared. Clean eating was off the table. And instantly, having restricted chocolate for weeks, my cravings hit me like a tonne of bricks.
In the days that followed, I found myself eating when I didn’t even want anything. I was eating, just because I could. Turns out, the restrict and binge cycle never fully goes away. It’s why I talk so much about the importance of not restricting here on this blog.
Where my head is at now.
It’s a tricky one. On the one hand, I’m ecstatic that I don’t need to follow a specific whole foods diet. On the other hand, this experience has been pretty scary and it’s made me think more about preventative care for my kidney. As we age, it’s normal for kidney function to reduce. But when one kidney is doing all the work, it makes me want to do everything I can to support that organ.
I wish there was a conclusive ending to this story. At the moment, I’m still very much torn between protecting my kidney or protecting my mental health. The last thing I want to do is fall back into full-blown disordered eating. I know it will be possible to get to a point where I feel I can do both, but right now it feels very much one or the other. I guess that’s just how my mind works.
Let me know if you’ve been able to resonate with my recent health scare or disordered eating. I share my experiences in order to help others feel less alone and, perhaps selfishly, I’d like to feel less alone too. Mental health problems can feel very isolating and, often, the mind convinces us that we’re the only ones struggling. I want you to know that you’re not alone.
If you’re struggling, you can text SHOUT on 85258 or call the Samaritans hotline on 116 123.