Story, Patient

Eating Disorders Program Helped Kendall Heal

May 23, 2024

Kendall, Children’s Hospital Colorado Patient Ambassador

girl smiling with pink background

Toward the end of middle school, Kendall’s image of herself began to change.

She was being bullied for her body and the way she looked. Turning her thoughts inward toward food, Kendall, now 15, carefully monitored what and how much she was eating. Social media also became a trap for her, reinforcing unattainable images and unhealthy messages.

After both Kendall and her mom, Tara, got COVID-19 and went to the doctor, Tara noticed that something was going on with her daughter. Kendall’s lips were losing color and her heart rate was fluctuating dramatically. Their pediatrician recommended they visit the Children’s Hospital Colorado Heart Institute to see if she might be experiencing some cardiology issues.

At Children’s Colorado, doctors quickly recognized that Kendall’s heart issues were likely symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Kendall then shared with her parents just how much she was struggling with food and eating. Under the care of a new pediatrician, this doctor recommended that Kendall be admitted to Children’s Colorado.

After one week at the hospital, she was discharged, but once she was at home again, her struggles worsened.  She was readmitted to the hospital for another week, and during this second stay, her care team referred her to the Children’s Colorado Eating Disorders Program. While in treatment, she participated in the Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program, exploring her thoughts and emotions through drama therapy, music therapy and art therapy. She also learned skills to help normalize food and deal with stress.

With the support of her family and caregivers, she began to recover, developing a healthier relationship with food and exercise. Today, she is on her high school’s varsity cheer team as a sophomore.