"I want others who may be out there struggling to know they are not alone, and there is hope for recovery."
For many parents, it's a good thing when your teenager takes up running. But for Eric and Jennifer Wasserstrom, their now 17 year-old daughter's sudden interest in the sport, became a concern. While active and talented in many ways, Chloe had never before participated in track, cross country or half marathons. But then one day, five years ago, she began running for miles.
There were other warning signs as well, but it's never easy or clear-cut, even for well-meaning and attentive parents like the Wasserstroms. It wasn't a single incident or episode, but the accumulation of worries and concerns that led the Wasserstroms to seek help at Nationwide Children's Hospital for Chloe and her eating disorder.
Across the country, access to care for patients with eating disorders is lacking. However, Nationwide Children’s has boldly made a stand for pediatric behavioral health and features innovative programming led by a multidisciplinary team. Still, even with comprehensive treatment, it doesn't mean that patients like Chloe have an easy journey to healing. Unlike some physical illnesses that can be treated with a single surgical procedure or days of antibiotics, behavioral health issues generally require weeks and months of care.
Clinicians in the field often refer to the "eating disorder voice" that compels patients. Physicians at Nationwide Children's told the Wasserstrom family that Chloe had one of the strongest eating disorder voices they had encountered. To help cope with the disorder, Chloe's family named her voice "Ed."
"You just keep pushing and pushing in a positive way until 'Ed' gives up," Eric says. He and Jennifer had open, clear conversations with family members and friends, always approaching Chloe's eating disorder as a health issue that would be challenging, but ultimately overcome.
Today, Chloe is doing great. She is in 11th grade and plays lacrosse and is the mascot for her high school. She has also recently been selected as a member of the Wexner Service Corp, an organization dedicated to promoting service learning and philanthropy among young adults.
"I am grateful for Nationwide Children's Hospital and my family for their constant support. I want others who may be out there struggling to know they are not alone, and there is hope for recovery," says Chloe.