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Tuesday, April 26, 2016


UPDATE:  April 21, 2016

It is with a very heavy heart that I pass along the news that Karlene Lindenmuth passed away today, April 21, 2016, after struggling for years with anorexia and bulimia.  Karlene was such a sweet, loving, and caring person.  Her death breaks my heart.

She wanted to share her story to warn others about the devastating effects of eating disorders, so encouraged me to chronicle her hellish journey on my blog.

Rest in peace, Karlene.  I was honoured to be your friend.

Many thanks to Karen for letting me know of Karlene's passing today.


Karlene with NG tube

Karlene in hospital on November 10, 2008
Karlene on Sept. 28/08 - 72.9 pounds

"This is what happens as a result of purging. I've been wearing partial dentures for over 10 yrs. now. It can happen quickly and is VERY PAINFUL!!"

"76 lbs.--STILL :( BMI of 13.0, whichh is good) STILL NO LOW ENOUGH! I'm so incredibly TIRED, DIZZY, and OUT OF BREATH! Sometimes I really this "this is it, I just hope I don't go to HEll!!!!!!"

For the most recent update on Karlene (November 25, 2008), please click here:

(November 10, 2008)"Update--Nov. 10, '08

Nov. 10th, 2008 at 6:28 PM

I have been in the hospital for the past couple of weeks. My parents had to take me to the ER Halloween morning. I was having severe stomach pains and couldn't even stand up. Many painful tests were performed and it was concluded that I had some type of intestinal blockage. They stuck a huge NG tube up my nose and got out 2 liters of fluid and gunk from my stomach. I hadn't had a BM in almost 3 weeks (altho I'm not eating much). I was in such awful pain!!

My weight is continuing to fall. I now weigh barely 72 lbs. I cannot even care for myself. My skin is turning an ugly yellowish color. I honestly don't know how I am still alive. My doctors suggested a Gastric Pacemaker be placed in my stomach bc my digestive system is so very messed up. But they are not sure if I would make it thru the surgery.

Thank you to all who are keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. I appreciate it so very much, as does my family!

Mood: cold"
UPDATE #12 (October 23, 2008)
"Update--Oct. 23rd, 2008 at 2:56 PM

I'm still here. How? I don't know. I don't know why God has kept me on earth for this long with this disease.

My physical body is literally disappearing. I feel such guilt and shame. I am sorry to everyone for being such a disappointment. I am sorry for failing to fight and beat this disease. I am sorry I have given up!!

I fought it for 22 yrs. and it has done irreversable damage to me...physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm done. I have nothing left.

I don't want people who are fighting this terrible monster to read this and think, "well if she's giving up, if she's not going to get better, then I won't either." You CAN!! Recovery IS possible. I've seen it. I just don't see it for myself. And I'm so very sorry for that!! I'm so very ashamed!!

The physical pain and discomfort from starving and from the malnutrition is still not as bad as the discomfort of leaving my anorexia behind--the terror I would feel. And deep down I know that is CRAZY!! It's been ME for so long, it's who I am.

So many of you have responded to my posts with such love and kindness and I can't tell you how much that means to me!! It touches my heart so much, I can actually "feel" your love.

I've been so nauseous every single day. I don't know if it's my pain meds or what, but I feel like I am sea sick ALL the time!! And when I feel like that, that MONSTER inside my head tells me I am gaining weight, even if I've only had tiny bites of yogurt all day long! I wish so much that there was a miracle drug out there that would just make eating disorders just disappear. They take everything and everyone from you!!

I love all of you out there struggling with this and to those keeping me in your hearts and prayers! I can't thank you enough!! Please take care of yourselves and FIGHT!!"

UPDATE #11 (September 28th, 2008)

"Doctor Day

Sep. 28th, 2008 at 7:25 PM

72.9 lbs. on the doctor's scales with clothes on.

I wish I could see what others see! What is wrong with me?! I feel like I am going crazy! This disease is consuming me and I can't stand it!

I saw my doctor on Friday. He raised my Percocet. I feel sorry for him bc he is so worried about me and doesn't know how else to help. I have yet another kidney infection, but we're not going to treat it, just try and control my pain.

I'm so confused and scared. So many emotions all jumbeled up inside of me. I don't know who I am anymore. I feel like a puppet being controlled by this monster pulling the strings. My body is shutting down not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.

I was with my family this weekend and it was an incredibly uncomfortable weekend!! Just seeing the look on all of their faces and the way they act toward me. My dad looks at me with disgust and that hurts. Even my nieces and nephews stare at me and seem to be afraid of me.

I am so very ashamed and consumed with guilt! What have I done to myself? I've ruined not only my own life, but the lives of those I love so dearly. I'm so very very tired and exhausted and the pain is getting hard to control. God, please forgive me for not being who you made me to be!!

Mood: confused"

Karlene, every time I read one of your updates, my heart breaks a little more. If only you could get the treatment you so desperately need and deserve. ~ Medusa

UPDATE #10 (September 12th and 19th, 2008)


Sep. 19th, 2008 at 9:33 PM

As usual, another rough day. I had to take more of my pain meds as soon as they would wear off, thus I slept most of the day.

I've been having bad nightmares that leave me petrified, most of them about my abuser, and sometimes I can feel his presence in my apartment.

I am starting to have a hard time keeping anything down. It literally takes me nearly all day to eat just a 6 oz. carton of yogurt and sips of about 6 oz. of water. Otherwise I get terrible severe stomach pains and sometimes can't keep even that little bit down.

My doctor wants to see me next week to check things out and we will talk about getting me on some pain medicine that is an extended release kind. But I am hesitant. I don't want to feel drugged all day long. I have been feeling really down and very hopeless. My heart is acting so funny, palpitating so badly I briefly pass out. I can usually sit or lie down before I hit the floor. My weight is around 73-74 pounds, about 50 pounds under my normal weight.

I hurt so badly, emotionally and physically. The ED voices in my head haunt me day and night, screaming at me that I am a bad lazy fat slob. God, help me! I am so very tired!

Mood: lonely"


Sep. 12th, 2008 at 3:27 PM

Today has been a rough day. I'm very nauseated and my ulcers are acting up. I've had a little bit of yogurt, a "safe" food for me, but it came right back up (NOT on purpose). So that's all I've had in the last few days. I can't even keep fluids down.

I think I have another kidney infection. I get them so easily now. But I feel it's pointless going to the dr. because he doesn't know what to do for me anymore, except give me pain meds to keep me comfortable, which they do somewhat.

My weight is about 73, but I hardly even look in the mirror anymore. I get too cold standing there in just my undies.

I've been starting to give some of my things away. Like my beloved Spongebob collection I've been giving to my 2 year old niece. She's crazy about him.

Gotta go lie down. Thank you all to are sending me your prayers. They are much appreciated!

Love, Karlene

Mood: nauseated"

UPDATE #9 (Friday, September 12, 2008)

Hello everybody ~

I'm sorry I have been out of touch. I have read your comments (those who have sent them, and Medusa) and I'm sorry I haven't replied, but I greatly appreciate them all.

I'm hanging in there. It's getting harder and harder to make it through each day. Alot of pain and alot of sleeping. I'm exhausted and out of breath much of the time. Just walking hurts.

I spent the Labor Day weekend with my family and I talked to them about my anorexia, really for the first time in all these years. We cried together and were open and honest with one another. It was hard, but a relief. We have all come to accept my illness and impending death. God touched all of our hearts that night and gave us a sense of peace.

My doctors and therapists are still working on the Hospice thing. It's taking a while, but I think it just may work out.

Thank you to all who are keeping me and my family in their prayers. I appreciate it so much.

Love to all~


Mood: tired"

UPDATE #8 (Friday, August 22, 2008)

"I'm sorry
Aug. 22nd, 2008 at 8:25 PM

I want to apoligize to all of my readers. I'm so sorry I am such a downer, a loser, a failure, a quiter. Here I am trying to keep you guys fighting this awful disease and I, myself, am giving up. What kind of inspiration is that?

I just want to tell my story in hopes that you guys can see what this awful disease can take away from you. Some of you are in the beginning of your disease and I beg you to get help NOW! The sooner you fight it and live in recovery, the better chances you have of actually having a great happy and healthy future.

After 22 years of being in and out of treatment centers and hospitals, being fed with PEG tubes, NG tubes, fighting infection after infection, fighting painful stomach ulcers and a hiatal hernia, a completely damaged esophagus from years of purging, kidney infections, a failing weakening heart, and failing organs, my body just can't take it anymore. And the pain is excrusiating! 24/7, emotionally and physically.

Tonight has been a rough night. I got up to try to make my way to the restroom and passed out. I could actually feel my heart stop beating and the blood rush from my head and extremeties before it happened. That's not the first time that's happened. I'm just glad I didn't crack open my head.

Anyway, I just hope and pray to you all who are suffering, PLEASE don't give up. Fight while there is still fight inside you. I've never cared enough about myself to fight for ME! Please fight for YOU! You CAN win!! You CAN beat this...before it's too late. My prayers and love to you all!

Mood: drained"

UPDATE #7 (Thursday, August 21, 2008)
"God, please take me soon!
Aug. 20th, 2008 at 7:22 PM

I found out that I don't qualify for Hospice. They say I have to have a diagnosis of a disease that will kill me in less than 6 months. I honestly don't believe I have 6 months and neither do my doctors. I need to talk to my physician because I know he will let them know the seriousness of this.

Many times I go to bed not expecting to wake up in the morning. Do they know how much pain I am in? Do they know I am literally wasting away? My parents/family need this hospice thing as much as I do.

My doctor will still continue to supply me with any pain medication I need (at least I hope he will). I sleep most of the day because even sitting up tires me out so. I just took several Percocet along with Xtra strength Tylenol, Xanax and Ativan. I can feel it kicking in, but I still feel I need more. The pain is pretty bad. My stomach is killing me. And when I have a stomach ache, it makes me feel FAT!! Weird I know.

God, I am ready when you are!

Mood: nauseated"
I have been out of town for the past five days and was only able to just now check Karlene's journal to see how she was doing...
UPDATE #6 (Thursday, August 14, 2008)

"another update
Aug. 14th, 2008 at 4:23 PM

I saw my primary care physician and he is all for the Hospice thing. He is very saddened by it, but honors my wishes. He is more than willing to work with hospice to help them make me as comfortable as possible in my final days.

My digestive system hardly works anymore. I take sips of water and nurse tiny spoonfuls of FF yogurt, but that is all I can do. They couldn't even get a BP on me this morning because it was so low.

My mind is going quickly as I forget most of what I am doing. My heart palpitations are very frequent now. They are worried about me staying alone. My dr. has put me on pain meds as I am in so much pain now. My whole body is eating away at itself.

I am thinking about getting a walker as it is hard to walk standing straight up, let alone walk at all without some assistance. I am still very worried about how I will pay my monthly bills just living off my disability checks. That is stress I don't need right now.

Your love and prayers are still much needed. Please pray for not only my family, but for my financial situation as well. I am so appreciative to you all right now. Here is my mailing address, just in case some of you want to know:
P.O. Box 365, Silver Lake, KS 66539.

"Medusa", I want to thank you as well!!

Love, Karlene

Mood: stressed"

Karlene, my heart is breaking for you. So many are praying for a miracle for you. I hope our prayers are answered.
Much love to you,

UPDATE #5 (Tuesday, August 12, 2008)

"A plea to my readers
Aug. 12th, 2008 at 10:22 AM

Hi all
I wanted to make a plea to those of you who are kind enough to read my journals. Unfortunately I have been banned from "proanorexia" so I can't post there.I believe it is very important for the readers to read my latest journals concerning my declining health and what EDs can ultimately lead to.
Can someone please either post this for me or tell them to read my journals. They need to go to my journal site:

My evaluation went well with the hospice people. They now just have to send for my medical records to see if I qualify. Apparently I have to be given only 6 months to live, according to my doctors. Sometimes I don't see myself living even that long.
Although I still see fat spots on me, I can also see that the person staring back at me who looks like a skeleton with skin stretched over it. I'm in so much pain--joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, bone pain, everything hurts. I try to eat a little yogurt. It is getting harder and harder to even swallow.
I keep asking God to take me SOON, not only bc the pain is unbearable, but bc I don't want my parents to see me in a prolonged state of sedation until I slowly pass away. I worry so much about them. But I know God will take care of them.
I often wake up and wonder if this is the day. Bad thing is I have to live off of my disability checks (which is NOTHING) and can't pay some of my bills. But it would be impossible for me to work right now. The stress doesn't help any.

Thank you all!

Mood: blank "
" my health declines
Aug. 12th, 2008 at 9:51 AM

My evaluation went well with the hospice people. They now just have to send for my medical records to see if I qualify. Apparently I have to be given only 6 months to live, according to my doctors. Sometimes I don't see myself living even that long.
Although I still see fat spots on me, I can also see that the person staring back at me who looks like a skeleton with skin stretched over it. I'm in so much pain--joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, bone pain, everything hurts. I try to eat a little yogurt. It is getting harder and harder to even swallow.
I keep asking God to take me SOON, not only bc the pain is unbearable, but bc I don't want my parents to see me in a prolonged state of sedation until I slowly pass away. I worry so much about them. But I know God will take care of them.
I often wake up and wonder if this is the day. Bad thing is I have to live off of my disability checks (which is NOTHING) and can't pay some of my bills. But it would be impossible for me to work right now. The stress doesn't help any.

Mood: distressed"


UPDATE #4 (Friday, August 8, 2008)

"These pics were taken a day before I entered the hospital, at 73 lbs. "

"Update--not good news
Aug. 6th, 2008 at 11:09 AM
Hi all~
I wanted to let you know that I am now at home from the hospital. I spent two weeks on a feeding tube. My weight is still critically low (upper 70s), and they were just able to get me stable. I am still very weak and not doing very well.

My doctors there have suggested Hospice care for me due to my failing health. I was told my heart is smaller and weaker and my organs are showing signs of failure. Midland Hospice Care (in Topeka) will come to my apartment tomorrow to do an evaluation on me to see if I qualify. When my doctors and therapists talked to them yesterday, it sounds like I will.

I don't know if any of you are aware of what exactly this means, but it is basically saying I am in the end stages of my disease, that I am terminal. They (hospice--which includes drs., nurses, social workers, home health aides, etc.) will care for me in my home on a regular basis until I am no longer able to care for myself. I will then go to a hospice or nursing facility where they will keep me as comfortable as possible until I pass away.

I know all of this sounds grim, but I am trying to accept it as reality, as my doctors and therapists fear the worst. Thank you to everyone who have kept me in your prayers. Your kind words mean a lot to me! Please continue to keep me, but especially my family, in your prayers!

I hope I don't die alone and have my family surrounding me at the end.

Love, Karlene

Mood: gloomy"


UPDATE #3 (Monday, July 21, 2008)
"Jul. 21st, 2008 at 6:23 PM

Well, tomorrow's the day. I'm going inpatient for the 15th time! This will be the 8th time at the same hospital/treatment facility. Once again, I'm terrified!

I weigh 73 lbs. and I do NOT want my bones to be covered in FAT!! I love to see them stick out. I see bones I never even knew I had! I can't help but feel proud.

What will I be without it? I don't know who I am without anorexia. It's been with me for 22 yrs. I NEED it! And now they are going to try and take it away from me.

I already know when I get out that I am going to lose the weight they put on me. I'm in terrible pain and I am so very weak, but I don't want to feel better! I need the pain, I deserve the pain. If I feel so bad, it means I am doing something right. I don't want to do this!

Mood: distressed"
UPDATE #2 (Monday, July 21, 2008)

"Jul. 17th, 2008 at 5:58 PM

Well it seems I am being admitted into the hospital on Tuesday morning (July 22). I am scared out of my wits! I do NOT want my bones to be covered with FAT! I see and feel bones I never even knew I had! I can't handle them going away! I NEED them! They give me comfort and safety.

Because my BMI is so low (13 something), they will have me on complete bed rest with a person sitting with me 24/7!

I have been passing out and I am purging anything I put in my mouth, even if it is an ounce or two of water, and I am spitting up blood. I want to DIE before I have to go in! I can't handle another hospitalization!

I am on pain medication for my kidney infection (Darvocet with 650 of acetimediphen), so I just took 6 of them, plus 2 mg of Ativan and 4 mg of Xanax. I can feel them kicking in. I'm feeling sick. I just want to sleep and sleep. I know I haven't taken enough to kill me, but maybe it will do some damage. I was in the hospital a few months back for ODing on the same thing and this is exactly how I felt. Only this time I don't have my therapist to MAKE me go to the ER.

Well, I need to stop for now bc I am beginning to see spots before my eyes and feel I'm about to pass out. I will write again before I have to go to the hospital on Tuesday (if I am still alive by then).
Mood: lethargic "

"Jul. 12th, 2008 at 9:35 AM
My therapist is threatening to "leave me" for good if I don't go into the hospital! I don't want to go but I don't want to lose her. Nobody understands me like she does.
So I called the hospital and they said they want me to come back in, that my "condition is severe." They are afraid I will die before I get there. I hope I do bc I can't take another forced weight gain! I can't do this again!

ED is beating me up severely for calling them. I am not done losing weight! My weight is still in the low 70s, it's got to get in the 60s!

The admissions lady at the hospital is going to call me Tuesday for my phone assessment. This will be my 7th time there. I DON'T WANT TO DO THIS!! I hope I die soon! I'm so very very tired!!

Mood: distressed"

Jul. 10th, 2008 at 9:38 AM
Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while to give you an update. My therapist insists on me going back into the hospital. I have become so weak, I barely can get up off the futon. I have had a really bad kidney infection for the past two weeks. I'm in a lot of pain.

I feel sorry for my family bc I can see the pained look on their faces when they see me and give me a hug (as if they may break me). We don't talk about my failing health and anorexia, about my impending death.

I'm sorry everyone!!! I'm such a failure! Here are a couple of new pics. I only take them if I am losing weight. I still see FAT legs!! Love and hugs to all-----"


UPDATE #1 (Sunday, June 29, 2008)

This is so tragic it's difficult for me to post. I just checked this woman's journal and found this latest entry which was posted a few hours ago:
" 74 lbs!!!

Jun. 29th, 2008 at 4:32 PM
Seems I have been banned from the site, proanorexia. Oh, well, I will soon be gone............

I have a new user pic (taken this morning). I've lost 2 lbs over the weekend, now down to 74 lbs.

HW: 120
LW: 74
CW: 74
GW: 60

My therapist called the hospital I was at in Jan. and Feb. and they are insisting I come back in. They fear for my life. I fear LIFE..period! With my financial situation, I don't know how I could afford to be in the hospital for months. I just want to disappear, shrink away to nothing, die in peace! Give my parents the relief of no longer having to see me like this. My kidneys are failing, by bones hurt, it hurts to even body's giving out, but it's taking so very long and is so very painful. I'm faddddddiiiiinnnngggg aawwwwaayyy!!!!!!!!


I stumbled upon this woman's journal and pictures moments ago and am heartsick. She may not have long to live. The comments posted under all the pictures are hers.

Her words... posted May 27th, 2008 at 8:55 AM:

"Hi, I am new to this site. I'm 39 yrs. old and have been anorexic for 22 years, but it's been severe for about the last 9-10 years, in and out of NUMEROUS treatment centers and hospitals, being fed through a feeding tube in the nose, a PEG tube surgically placed in my stomach and "fed" that way for over a year! (no food by mouth).
My normal weight @ 5'4" is 120 lbs. (which was about 10 yrs. ago), but now I weigh 77 lbs.

I purge (up to 8 times a day), anything I put in my mouth. I can't stand it! I have pics of myself on my site of my beautiful bones. I am obsessed with taking pics of myself and scrutanizing them (fat spots, etc.).
My therapist won't see me until I go into the hospital. I have lots of medical problems going on, but I can't help wanting to just disappear! I'm not sure I am pro ana, but I want to get thinner and thinner.

I don't recommend getting yourself stuck in this rut. It's pure hell once it takes over your mind and body! PAIN like no other!! Unbelievable PAIN!!!!!!!"

Mood: exhausted"

"A view from above @76 lbs. May '08"

"If you look closely enough, you can see the scars from my PEG tubes"
"76 lbs. "

And her latest post from yesterday, June 7, 2008, at 10:53 a.m:

"I want to thank all of you for your continued support! It helps so much.
I can't even begin to tell you the hell I co thru 24/7, the physical and emotional torture! Why do I do this to myself? I feel I don't deserve to live, to breathe, to take up space on this earth.
I have written a good-bye letter to my family and friends and keep it near my bedside. I want them to know how much I love them and how sorry I am for hurting them so much! The are in their early 70s and are not in good health (my dad recovering from a heart attack and mom having to go get serious back surgery performed). I feel it is all my fault. Me and this stupid MONSTER inside my head! I've just been through so many treatment centers, hospitals, psychiatrists, therapists, specialists, painful procedures, etc. that I have lost all hope of ever getting better!
Stay strong on the RECOVERY path!!
Mood: depressed"
And among some very wonderful, supportive comments to this poor woman's posts were some shocking questions asked of her:
Q. "Lol, if could turn just even one off of purging it was well worth posting it."
Her answer: "I hope it shows what purging can do to your teeth! ANd I'v always had nice straight white healthy teetch. Now they are gone and rotting (which is very painful!!). thank you for the post"
Q: "god I wish I could look like you!! oh, and I know this sounds kinda weird, but were you the girl that was in Dr. Phil?? you look Identical"
Her answer: "No, sorry. She was much thinner than me, however I have more serious medical complications and have literally been given a death sentence bc of my failing kidneys"
[NOTE: Aimee Moore was the anorexic/bulimic featured on the Dr. Phil show. You can search my blog for the posts relating to Aimee]
Q: "to tell you the truth i wish i had a death sentence. I hate living like this!! it's utter torture!! do you know how long you have to live?"
Her answer: "no i don't. but i've been told it could be any day. my potassium level is crically low and causings what the drs. call miny heart "attacks." my heart has shrnk to 40% or what it should be. Hon you don't want to go down this road! Live while you can!!"
Please, I beg of you, if you are anorexic and/or bulimic, or suffering from any other eating disorder, please seek help immediately!

On the sidebar of my blog are hotline numbers and links to get you started on the road to recovery. Anorexia and bulimia are deadly diseases and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people yearly.

And please remember this woman's warning:

"I don't recommend getting yourself stuck in this rut. It's pure hell once it takes over your mind and body! PAIN like no other!! Unbelievable PAIN!!!!!!!"

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Thursday, April 21, 2016


It is with a very heavy heart that I pass along the news that Karlene Lindenmuth passed away today, April 21, 2016, after struggling for years with anorexia and bulimia.  Karlene was such a sweet, loving, and caring person.  Her death breaks my heart.

She wanted to share her story to warn others about the devastating effects of eating disorders, so encouraged me to chronicle her hellish journey on my blog.

Rest in peace, Karlene.  I was honoured to be your friend.

Many thanks to Karen for letting me know of Karlene's passing today.

You can read Karlene's story here:


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Sunday, July 12, 2015


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anorexia-Bryan Bixler "Bryan Bixler is dying. He feels it in his bones a little more each day, as if passing the mirror in his apartment and glancing at himself isn’t evidence enough."
Some photos by Mark Boster

[July 12, 2015]

His amazing story of recovery...



To say that Bryan Bixler's road to recovery from anorexia is remarkable is an understatement.  

When I first posted about Bryan back in 2009, he was deathly ill.  Between 2009 and 2011, I lost track of Bryan until I received an update in January of 2011 from a reader (see Update below).  I was thrilled to learn that Bryan was doing so much better.

Bryan has made four appearances on Dr. Oz, the last being in December of 2013.  You will find the links to the Dr. Oz videos on Bryan's website here:

Last week, I was contacted by Bryan's lovely partner, Kristen, who updated me on Bryan's progress, which is nothing short of miraculous.  The pictures below say it all:  Bryan is healthy and happy.    

Bryan is now a Program Director and Nutritional Advisor at Hotel California by the Sea, a rehabilitation treatment centre for men in Newport Beach, California , which provides addiction treatment for dependence on alcohol and other substances. 

Please check out Bryan's profile at this link:

For those of you who are suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and other EDs and see recovery as daunting or impossible, Bryan's journey is evidence that once you take that first step, you CAN recover.

 Below are two beautiful and inspirational quotes that Brian has posted on social media: 

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."
~ Unknown

"Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity."
~ Pema Chödrön

Please take time to read my earlier posts below about Bryan's journey...

[January 30, 2011]

Many thanks to "C." for this update on Bryan sent to me on December 30th, 2010:

"I don't know if you're aware that Bryan Bixler was back on the Dr. Oz show on Nov. 27 - and he's made astounding progress. It brought tears to my eyes to see how much better he is doing.
Here are the links to watch the show:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

"Bryan Bixler suffers from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that causes him to deprive himself of enough food. He wants to get well, but the treatment Medi-Cal will cover falls short.
By Dana Parsons
6:29 PM PDT, April 2, 2009
"Bryan Bixler is dying.

anorexia-Bryan Bixler Bryan Bixler feels he can't escape the truth in the mirror. At 39 years old, 5 foot 9 and 82 pounds, he is growing weaker by the day

He feels it in his bones a little more each day, as if passing the mirror in his Laguna Beach apartment and glancing at himself isn't evidence enough. Here's what greets him: sunken eyes, paper-thin arms and legs that hang like a puppet's, the slow-motion gait that he fears will define his movements for the rest of his days. What happened, he wonders, to that young man who once ran half-marathons?

anorexia-Bryan Bixler

It's all so crazy. That's what he tells himself. Dying a bit more every day and knowing how to fix it but being unable to do it. Knowing that if he would just start eating like a normal person, he'd give himself a fighting chance.

But he's not a normal person, not anymore. Not at 5 feet 9 and 82 pounds. Not when he's got a master's degree and knows how the body works and yet can't make himself fix spaghetti or drink a chocolate malt.

Bixler is 39 and anorexic, suffering from an eating disorder traditionally associated with young women but which generally has been thought to include a 5% to 10% male component. In recent years, however, some researchers suggest that figure may be approaching 15%.

He doesn't remember a day or week or month that he turned the corner and inexorably headed down the path to anorexia nervosa, but he and family members think it was a slow-moving journey that started in his teens. He remembers those years as a time when his parents went through a difficult divorce and he was simultaneously caught up in the fitness craze and bent on avoiding junk food.

"I was Mr. Healthy," he says. "I was a vegetarian, I wanted to be a runner. Before I knew it, I lost weight without realizing it."

anorexia-Bryan Bixler
Bixler holds a photo of himself and his sister, Kimberly Leeds, from high school days

As he moved through his 20s, the disorder plunged him into what he calls "the vortex," a swirling downward spiral of weight loss and a deepening inability to reverse course.

But if there was a time back then when Bixler either denied he was anorexic or thought people were overreacting to his looks, those days are gone. "I see when I look in a mirror a walking caricature of a human being," he says. "A skeleton."

anorexia-Bryan Bixler

But what's different now than, say, even a year or so ago is a new resoluteness. The most primal cause of all.

"I want to live," he says.

To do that, he believes, he needs intensive coordinated treatment at an eating disorder center. Bixler's Medi-Cal insurance would pay for medical help and psychiatric or psychological treatment -- through care providers Kaiser Permanente and the Orange County Health Care Agency -- but not for long-term coordinated treatment at an eating disorder clinic.

The gap between what he needs and what his insurance will cover has been played out around the country. Many insurance companies increasingly have questioned the need for long-term residential treatment programs and balked at paying the high costs for them.

Seven years ago, with his parents footing the bill, Bixler spent several months at a treatment center in Wisconsin. Even though his weight climbed from 92 pounds to 120, he considered it a prison. When his parents' money ran out, he left and immediately relapsed.

anorexia-Bryan Bixler

Last fall, Bixler returned to the Wisconsin center but stayed only six days. Assigned to a psychiatric unit, he refused treatment, and his parents told him they could no longer afford the bill.

Since then, Bixler insists, he's seen the light and would stay in a long-term treatment program as long as it took. The only other option, he says, is death. "Obviously, my way is not working."

Neither is the limited psychological or psychiatric care he can get through Medi-Cal, says Terry Schwartz, medical director at an eating disorders program at UC San Diego. She supervised a recent psychiatric exam of Bixler, which he requested in the hope that it would bolster a claim he's made with the state for increased Medi-Cal coverage. The claim is pending.

Bixler isn't at an acute stage, Schwartz says, but his laboratory results and weight put him at "high risk" of dying from anorexia. American Psychiatric Assn. guidelines alone, she says, put him in the category of someone who needs either inpatient or residential care.

What he needs is a coordinated program that would run the gamut of medical, psychological, psychiatric, nutritional and dietary treatment. Bixler would be most vulnerable, she says, to sudden cardiac death or an inability to fight off an infection because of his depleted white blood cell count.

While convinced it's nowhere near what he needs, Bixler still avails himself of the counseling services offered through the county and Medi-Cal. If nothing else, he reasons, it'll perhaps send a signal that he's trying to play ball.

On his more charitable days, Bixler tries to avoid recriminations.

anorexia-Bryan Bixler

"I'm not blaming anybody," he says, "not Kaiser, not the county. I try not to blame myself, because of course I feel like I caused it. For me, it's the anger, the sadness that a life doesn't mean anything unless you have money."

In his 20s, before he fully grasped what was happening to him, Bixler saw a future for himself. With degrees from UC San Diego and the University of Georgia, Bixler wanted to work in the education department of zoos or aquariums. Instead, the eating disorder overtook him, and after short stints at two zoos and teaching while a graduate student, he went on full-time disability nine years ago.

He subsists on Social Security and lives in a studio apartment with a view of the Pacific Ocean, the beneficiary of cheap rent because his parents own the building.

He typically sleeps until late morning and stays up late. His sister, Kimberly Leeds, thinks that's so he can avoid normal social contacts and justify living his life mostly in the night.

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Bixler has always been close to his sister, Kimberly
She's the one who pulled his shirt over his head about 15 years ago and made him look at his rib cage. "Look at yourself," she said. "How can you think you're OK?"

anorexia-Bryan Bixler Bixler is growing weaker by the day

Even though she understands the disorder, her brother's eating habits both cause her to marvel and madden her.

"He will not eat any dairy, but he eats frozen yogurt all the time," she says. "He won't eat certain lettuce because it gets caught in his teeth, but he will eat iceberg lettuce. He'll eat popcorn all night long but won't eat roast beef because it sticks in his teeth."
anorexia-Bryan Bixler Bixler, his nephews, his sister and her husband, Clay, say grace

If they go out to eat, she says, "He can't order something off the menu. There are about five or six statements that have to go along with it." Forget rice or beans, if that comes with the entree. He has to have shredded lettuce and cilantro on the side. He will eat vegetables and protein foods, but carbohydrates are a non-starter, she says.

Leeds may be frustrated, but she hasn't given up on her brother. To the contrary, she's joined him in his fight to get more extensive care.

Their parents, she says, have been dealing with the situation for half of Bryan's life and it is wearying.

"Mother feels like she's done everything. She's mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted," Leeds says. "Her life has been dedicated to him for the last 20 years."

All of which Bixler knows and which makes him sigh.

His father tells him he's not trying hard enough. What's so hard about fixing a bowl of oatmeal and eating it? They have shelled out the money before and might again, but the failing economy has hurt their finances.

"They blame me, their blame reinforces my own self-blame," he says. "I'm my own worst critic. I look in the mirror at night, saying I'm insane. What's wrong with me?"

He knows the answer, of course: a disorder with numerous dark corners that enveloped and then overwhelmed him.

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Bixler reads to his nephews, Jeremy and Elliott Leeds, at his sister's home

"I can't understand why I can't do what a 6-year-old can do -- feed myself." "


Audio slideshow:,0,848624.htmlstory

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