Meet Emma: 2022 Family Advocacy Day Champion

Emma is participating in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day from June 12-14. Through this event, Emma and her family will discuss her health journey, Children’s Hospital Colorado’s role in providing her with necessary health care services, and why the public and our elected officials must invest in the future of patients like Emma.

Emma battled her eating disorder for several years, but her mother, Christine, realized she needed a higher level of care. Emma was taken to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where the doctors ordered an electrocardiogram to monitor her heart. The results revealed bradycardia—a slower than normal heart rate—and reinforced the fact that she needed more immediate intervention. She was admitted to the hospital and from that point on, Emma’s condition was treated seriously.

“The official diagnoses of anorexia nervosa created a level of significance, and it took me a while to realize that this wasn’t just a phase,” says Christine. “For Emma, the diagnosis validated her condition. So many people with eating disorders don’t get diagnosed properly due to stereotypes.”

After a few days in the hospital when her heart rate was strong enough, Emma was discharged. Her family hoped to check her in to a residential facility, but she was waitlisted and sent home. Two weeks later, she was readmitted to Children’s Hospital Colorado. Then, when she was stable, she was admitted to the Eating Recovery Center in Washington for residential treatment and was finally able to get the therapy she needed. 

Currently, Emma receives outpatient treatment and sees a dietitian and therapist. She no longer requires close medical observation. Now she is focusing on the mental aspects of the disorder, such as letting go of rigidity, challenging food rules and fears, and accepting her body. 

“Like most teenagers, being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging,” says Christine. “It’s been a time where her coping mechanisms have really been tested, and because she didn’t have many healthy ones to begin with, it allowed for her eating disorder to take over. The pandemic also shut down part of Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Eating Disorder Unit and has reduced the capacity of many mental health facilities.”

Emma is doing well in her recovery. Physically she is where she needs to be, she’s at her ideal weight, her vitals are good and she’s healthy and enjoys hiking. 

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