Tash has struggled with bulimia for almost 19 years. She says she consumes on average 10,000-15,000 calories a day, purging most of them up. On days when Tash doesn’t work, she admits to consuming up to 60,000 calories before purging.
Bulimia nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binging and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Tash’s daily eating routine varies from day to day. “If I’m working, in the morning I’ll have a little yogurt, then a little salad or sandwich for lunch,” she says. “But, I’m just doing that because I’m pretending that I’m normal.”
After work or on her days off, Tash’s routine is very different. “As soon as I get off work, I binge on fast food — burritos or hamburgers, then come home and a have a pack or two of cookies and some mac and cheese,” she says. “I also have a bag of candy bars and drink a lot of soda. I’ll throw up some, then keep eating, and then throw up some more.”
Tash admits that her social life is virtually non-existent. “I’m a recluse,” she says. “It’s just me and my eating disorder. I’m not doing it because I think it’s OK, but I do it because I have no choice. It’s like I’m a heroin addict, and food is my heroin, and I have no idea how to stop.”
Tash and her sister, Kendra, sit down with ER physician Dr. Travis Stork and OB-GYN Dr. Jennifer Ashton to talk about Tash's eating disorder and her desire to put an end to her daily struggles.
Dr. Travis explains the damage that can be done to Tash’s body every time she purges — from vomiting up fluid (which could lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte abnormalities) to severe heart abnormalities and arrhythmias.
“Every time the acid comes up, it's damaging your gums and your teeth and affecting virtually everything in your body,” Dr.Travis says.
Dr. Buck Runyon, a family therapist from the Remuda Ranch, an eating disorder facility located in Arizona, offers Tash the opportunity to get the help she needs.
Dr. Travis asks Tash whether she wants to get better. Although she says she can’t comprehend what “better” is, she agrees to go to Remuda.