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My thirty years of bulimia

by Ross

I'm 50, male, and have been bulimic since I was 20. As a teen, I was very overweight - around X pounds. I lost much of this at 18 or 19. But then I met a girl who admitted that she threw up after eating. I as initially horrified, but then tried it. At first it was difficult, I'd have to stick my hands down my throat, and drink salty water. After a few years, I could do it very easily, just by bending over the toilet. Meanwhile, I carried on with my life, sports, studying, working. The years passed, and I didn't think about health problems. I didn't throw up after every meal - usually only in the evening.

I had a few spells when I stopped it - for a couple of weeks. But I always went back to is, as it meant I could eat what I want, and hold my weight quite steady at around X pounds.

5 weeks and 6 days ago, I took my pulse. I can't remember why. I notice lots of missed beats (what I now know are called PVCs or extrasystoles or ectopic beats). It freaked me out, and I saw my GP within 2 days. I'd read about how bulimia messed with your heart, but this was proof, I thought. My GP knows nothing about my bulimia. She referred me for a 24 hour ECG check. But a week later, I ended up at the ER, after feeling really strange, palpitations, flushed face, pain in my chest. They did lots of tests, and reassured me that I hadn't had a heart attack. They did find all the PVCs, though, and sent me for an exercise ECG on a treadmill. I did this, getting my heart rate up to 160bpm! The good news was that the PVCs disappeared when I got my heart rate going. But this didn't explain why I was having them all through the day, usually around 4 or 5 a minute. Sometimes they disappeared, but always have come back.

For the last three days, I have been having pretty constant pain in my left chest, in line with the nipple, like a dull ache. I have also have the facial flushing. I am now round to thinking that it's not my heart, but is my oesophagus (esophagus for those of you not in the UK!). I get a kind of fullness feeling. I've never had reflux (if you don;'t count deliberate vomiting!), but wonder if this might be the rebound effect of stopping being bulimic nearly six weeks ago? I don't know if any of you have had this experience? I take antacids, and they seem to help a little, but I don't know for sure if the pain is from my heart of my stomach - the vagal nerve covers them both!

I am determined to not go back the way. I am too old, and have been doing it too long. I know why - it's how I deal with things emotionally. But if I have now got long term serious health damage, I have to stop.

Has anyone had similar symptoms after stoppping after many years? Will it get better? I am seeing my GP soon to get the results of the 24 hour ECG. I suspect he will either tell me all is normal, and not to worry. Or refer me to a cardiologist...and tell me not to worry!

I think this is where I should stop. For today anyway. :-)

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program