I had just tried, without success, every form of therapy, in patient and out, deemed sufficient by my insurance company. My weight had skyrocketed putting me over the three hundred pound mark and my mental health/eating disorder were worse than ever. My time at Warner wasn’t enough. Their inability to handle the needs of a patient whose life depended on not just recovery, but actual weight loss, had left me unprepared. All of the letters and pleas in our previous and now current fight had been proven right and there were no more excuses for my insurance company to throw at us. It was clear that denying me admittance into Chestnut again was not only immoral but possible grounds for a law suit. That didn’t stop them from trying though. After one more round of denial and appeal they gave in. My parents, lawyer, and medical team once again went full force into this seemingly never ending battle, and finally, FINALLY, it paid off.
A few weeks before we found out the good news my mom and I took a trip down to Virginia to check out the hospital that had been the center of our lives for the last two years. We needed to see first hand what we had been fighting for. We needed to know for sure that all of this strife was worth it. From the second we pulled into the dirt parking lot and stepped foot on the campus we had nothing but good feelings and hope. A case worker took us on a tour of the grounds -- ending with the unit that would eventually be my home. We stood in the entryway next to the nurses station and I could see into all of the patients' rooms. For some odd reason, what stuck out to me the most, was a colorful hook rug in the shape of a flower. I have no idea why but something about this rug made me excited and anxious to come back and stay for real. Maybe it signified a symbol of someone settled in and comfortable or maybe it was the idea of finally getting to fulfill all of my dorm room decorating envy. Whatever it was when we left that day I was confident that this was where I was going to get help and confident that this time I was going to get in.
Taking the trip down there could have been a disaster. It could have filled me with more false hope and a more tangible vision to have ripped away from me. It was a chance we were willing to take. Going down there only solidified for us that we wouldn’t take no for an answer. We had to do whatever it took to make this a reality. Thankfully, it wouldn’t be long until we found out that it would be.
Nothing will ever compare to the feeling of ecstasy and relief that came over us once that phone call came. The battle was finally over and we had won. After years of being told no, we were finally getting a yes. A yes to giving me a fighting chance at survival. A yes to giving me the ability to go start my life. Sure, the hard part was about to start, but thank God. That was all I wanted. The opportunity to prove to myself -- to my parents, to my family, to my friends, and to everyone who had stuck with me through this grueling process. I knew with every part of me that given the chance, I could do this. I WOULD do this. I refused to come back home and fail again. I was going to succeed.
After a week of packing and saying goodbye, my mom and I drove back down to Virginia. This time our car was filled with everything I would need for six months of living. The night before arriving at the hospital we stayed at a hotel in Richmond. Like an episode of intervention where the addict has his last shot of heroin or last hit of his crack pipe, I went to a Mexican restaurant to have my last binge. I was about to enter a world of health and I was going to get in all the cheese and sour cream I could while I still had the chance.
The next morning we drove the hour it took to get to the hospital. It hadn’t been that long since we had come to visit, but I forgot how much in the middle of nowhere this place was. The closer we got the more creeped out I got as the house-to-Baptist Church ratio became increasingly absurd. As we pulled into the parking lot, which was about a mile down from the entrance, my heart sunk. When we had arrived at Warner for the first time it was all sunshine, blue skies, and palm trees. Chestnut was a campus of all brick buildings surrounded by gigantic corn fields which at this time of year were all dead. It was overcast and eerie and I was terrified. I don’t know why in such a short period of time my outlook on the place changed so much. Possibly it was the reality of actually being admitted. Actually leaving my family and friends for six months. Actually giving up binging and putting my food into someone elses hands. Relinquishing all control to strangers. Or perhaps I was scared to get better.