As parents, when we held our precious little baby in our arms, we dreamed of our childs future and of the potential she would have . We thought about the joy we would experience as she went to school and became a little independent person. As she got older, we knew she was special. She had a heart of gold and loved people. She was always willing to help others and longed to work with dolphins someday. Chelsea was special, as were our other two children who were quite a bit older. Chelsea loved her brother and sister and she would do anything for them. Chelsea was also quite a little social butterfly in school. I was often told by her teachers that they had to move her often due to the fact that she would make friends and talk all day to whomever she would sit by. Most all of her teachers loved her for her loving spirit, but struggled with her running mouth! Chelsea was smart and made good grades in school, but she could really have cared less about most of the work.

As Chelsea started fifth grade her brother Bubba moved off to College in central Florida. This was a devistating blow for Chelsea. Chelsea and Bubba (Christopher, just Bubba for a nickname) have always been close as well as Chelsea and her sister Candice. Bubba and Chelsea are 9 1/2 years apart to the day. In her eyes, our family would never be the same and to her it felt like our family was incomplete. To make matters worse, this was the year that Florida was bombarded with mulitple deadly hurricanes. She was so afraid for her brothers life! As time went on, there were many struggles in our home with both of our girls. Candice had just graduated from Highschool and power struggles were common. Chelsea developed OCD and was panicing over everything. We could not watch the news with her around because every time a hurricane was mentioned on the news she would have nightmares. We took her to counseling, but nothing seemed to help. She had previously been diagnosed with ADD and now she was going to go on medications for the OCD.

Over the next year things just got worse. She started having daymares and was struggling to make it day to day. In January of her sixth grade year, several of the students in her Youth Group at Church had decided to give up french fries.  Now I do not know about you, but this sounded totaly reasonable. Over the next few weeks, she decided to eliminate other unhealthy foods. I started to get worried because I felt something wierd was starting to happen. As the foods started disappearing, so did the OCD and the daymares. What we know now is that the OCD morphed into anorexia. She was starting to loose weight which was o.k., but she started to obsess more and more about different foods and excercising. I have known several people who have had anorexia and I started to get concerned. I told my husband Chris about my concerns, but as a man who knew nothing about anorexia, he just felt it was a phase that she would grow out of. To try and get her to another counselor would be not only expensive, but he felt it would do no good becuase they could not seem to help her with the OCD, and at this point all of the OCD was just about gone.

In the next few months she had gone from 108 to 95 pounds. I took her to a doctor for a physical and they were not too concerned, that is until her blood tests came back. Her thyroid levels were off and they sent her to a Pediatric Endocrynologist. It was here that she was officially diagnosed with anorexia nevrvosa. Due to not eating enough, her thyroid had actually stopped functioning.The reality finally hit my husband that this was not a phase and we had to do something. We started with Manna Treament Center which is a wonderful group of Doctors. Unfortunately, Chelsea was not open nor cooperative.

Since mid 4th grade, I had homeschooled Chelsea because she had some learning gaps that they did not catch in school. We started her back in Public School for her 7th grade year. Unfortunately, this made matters worse. Every day she would come home angry because she was comparing herself with the other girls. "So and so would not eat her lunch", or "this girl makes me sick because she is so skinny", would be what I would hear every single day. Suprisingly, her grades were phenominal. She had turned into a perfectionist and was putting a lot of stress on herself. She had straight A's but she would get terribly upset if she made under a 98. If she made a 90 she would breakdown and cry because she felt she was just short of failing! We had never put pressure on her about her grades and we could not imagine where this was coming from. By October of that year, she had dropped down to 78 pounds.

Chris and I were advised that Chelsea needed In-Patient care. She had been going to Manna every week without fail, but she had given up. We chose to send her to Remuda Ranch in Wickenburg Arizona because we wanted our daughter to go somewhere that specialized in children with eating disorders and that had a Christian viewpoint. Let me tell you, this was the hardest thing we had ever had to do, but it was either that or watch our child die. By the time we had gotten her there her pulse was down to 38 and her blood pressure was orthostatic. She was dehydrated because she would not even hardly drink anymore. She had developed a heart murmur that she had never had before. I have never been so scared in my life! To add insult to injury, the insurance company refused to pay and told Remuda they would not cover any costs because she was not under 15 BMI (Body Mass Index). They told them that out patient was all she needed. That in itself is a whole nother story! I do not hold any faith nor respect for Blue Cross Blue Sheild anymore! She was at Remuda for 3 Months total. She did quite well but in hindsight, she needed to stay longer, we just could not afford it! When she came home she did much better in her out patient treatment and she was eating somewhat a normal diet, that is until she found out how much she weighed. All of a sudden a switch went off and she plummeted again!

As advised, we took her to Ridgeview Hospital here in Atlanta (The only one who would take a child with an eating disorder in GA) and it was a nightmare! She was thrown in a group of WOMEN (she was 13) who were drug addicts and alcholics. I think there was only two other people who had an eating disorder out of a ward of at least 20. Once again, Insurance refused to pay more than three days because she weighed too much. After this little adventure, the somewhat violent behavior she had already started, got worse. You must remember, she is still in weekly out patient! She was referred by HER DOCTORS for in-patient care, and insurance decided that they knew better! This story can only get longer, but I will shorten it up. We took her to UNC Chapel Hill Hospital to a program there becuase we were not taking her back to Ridgeview! Finaly, she was thin enough for insurance to pay! She was down to 73 pounds! But guess what, as soon as she went above 15 BMI 9 days later, they refused to pay again. Of course, they said they were not kicking her out, we always had the option to keep her there and pay 1500.00 a day out of our own pocket! 

Five months prior to UNC, we had started the process to get her into Mercy Ministries in Nashville, TN. She had been accepted, but there was a 6 month waiting list. In the meantime, we had switched her doctors to a group that was closer to home. We loved Manna, but they were an hour to an hour and a half from where we lived. (Depending on traffic) Between work, our farm, and doctors appointments, this became more than I could handle. (We have a very small farm where we raise Mini and Standard Australian Shepherds, three horses, several chickens, a rooster and a cat)

Life for us had become a virtual NIGHTMARE! She was throwing violent temper tantrums if we tried to make her eat  or sit down to keep her from twisting her body back and forth to burn calories. One evening I took her to the emergency room because she threatened to grab the steering wheel and crash my car because I would not take her to get the soup she wanted for dinner! I had told her that the police would probably have to arrest her if she did this and she proceeded to tell me that she would lie to the police and tell them I did it to try and kill her. I told her that I was going to take her to have her evaluated at the hospital and she kicked my dashboard and was throwing her head repeatedly as hard as she could into the seat. All the while she kept saying that she would rather die and that she wanted to kill herself. As I turned the car around to go to the hospital, she yanked my steering wheel to keep me from turning. As small as she was, she had the strength of a giant! The worst part was, the nurses and doctors were worried, but they pulled in a Psych. evaluator and he said all she needed was therapy! Wow, wish I would have been doing that over the last year! (Some people amaze me!)

Six months after applying, we got the call for Chelsea to go to Mercy! When we finally got her there, her weight was down to 68 lbs. She almost did not get to go because you have to be medically stable. It is only by the grace of God that she was stable. The first month was so hard. She was trying to manipulate coming home or getting a pass. The second month was truly even harder. We were able to get a pass to go see her, but the whole time she was with us, she was dreading us going home. She was so homesick. I can't even imagine being away from my parents as much as she has by the age of 14! Things just seemed to get worse,until......... the weekend of July 4th 2008. Chelsea had really blown it that week and she felt like our pass for July 11th would be denied. On Sunday July 6th, she told me that she was sick and tired of arguing and fighting. She said that she just wanted to be healed! Well....things they are a changin! She has turned her attitude, her actions and her heart around by the Grace of God! Now we can look at our precious Chelsea and see the hope and potential for her life! She has resigned herself to the reality that she will not work with dolphins, (we don't live near the ocean!) but God has a bigger plan with animals and people!

Today Chelsea is home and doing great! She graduated from Mercy on her 15th Birthday. It has been up and down with both bad days and good. We were able to readjust her medication and now she is having great days filled with joy and fun! We at one time believed that we may never see that day, but God is good..All the time!

 This is Chelsea at her graduation from Mercy! She looks so beautiful there with her nutritionist at Mercy. We are so glad to have her back home!
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