There was one day in the hospital that I like to look back on; one moment that was defining for me both in terms of my perspective and my will to recover. But it was not memorable in the way you might think because it started with some of the worst news I had received since my arrival.
I was wheeled in to another weekly meeting with my doctor. My hopes were high and I was ecstatic. I had been told that today was the day; today was the day I would finally go home and be released. I would finally start anew on my life. One look at my clinician’s face took all those hopes away. There was crying, both from me and my parents, frustration and confusion. I had been on such a good track; steadily gaining weight and returning to normal levels. What could have happened?
For those who don’t know, phosphorus levels are an indicator for what is called “refeeding syndrome.” Because of the fact that I had been starving myself and my heart rate was very low, I was at high risk for this. They had been monitoring my phosphorus levels for weeks and my levels had been slowly inclining. On one blood test, however, they dropped suddenly and drastically. My doctors were scared. They explained it was a bad sign and could lead to major heart complications and even sudden death.
I was told that they would take one more blood test. If my levels returned to normal I would be free to go home but if they stayed this low, I was looking at another two to three weeks in the hospital. That night my parents came to visit me and we sat around in my room, crammed into my single bed. We closed our eyes, held hands and said a prayer. We prayed that my phosphorus levels would be at 3.3 the next day. 3.3 was an optimal level, and at that level, I would be able to go home. We repeated the number, 3.3, over and over again until we were all exhausted. My parents left that night to head home and I laid in my hospital bed, hoping against home that it would be my last night here.
The next day my blood was drawn and I awaited the results in anticipation. It might have been fate, or maybe just a very weird coincidence, I’m still not really sure. My phosphorus levels the next day were exactly 3.3 and not a point over. In that moment, I felt supported by something greater than myself. I felt like I had been given a second chance, a chance to try again.
The moments after that were some of the happiest and scariest of my life. My family and I were crying with happiness, elated that I could finally return home. But it was also scary jumping right back into the real world, the weight of recovery now squarely on my shoulders. However, my mentality had shifted. I felt like I had something to prove. I needed to live up to this second chance I was given. It hasn’t all been easy; in fact, it has been harder than I ever could have imagined. On my hardest days, I think about the number 3.3 and remind myself of all that I went through in the hospital, and the stronger person I became because of it.