Ivy and Noah


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The tissue heart.

I’ve been wanting to write for days but the words elude me.

My mind too full.

Ivy was admitted to hospital on Thursday

and so was Maddy.

Ivy’s heart rate too fast

and Maddy’s way too slow.

Ivy went to her ward

and Maddy was separated from us

and I wished there was such a thing as a cloning machine so that I could be in more than one place at once.

Ivy had a rapidly forming abscess that, by the time of admission, was the size of a golf ball

and hot

and painful

and she was sick with it.

Maddy’s ECG was abnormal, her heart rate dangerously low -

her weight down another two kilos

and so very tired and unwell.

The paed very serious when he spoke to us.

On the second day just as Ivy was wheeled into theatre to have the  most terrible abscess yet, excised

the psychiatrist phoned wanting me to meet him for a consult with Maddy

and really, that’s when I felt like I might break.

How do I choose between two sick babies?

I couldn’t be with both.


but life goes on, doesn’t it?

Ivy did okay in surgery -

the kind surgeon has Ivy’s anatomy down to a fine art

and the anaesthetist gave the girl exquisite pain relief.

The psychiatrist and the social worker saw Maddy and she did alright talking, with AJ sitting by her side

and Immy

and then later Lily

until we could be together again.

I love how my family pulls together when we should all be falling apart.

The abscess was awful, necrotic and extensive -

Ivy’s body trying so hard to do what it’s supposed to

and the Anorexia is overwhelming.

I miss Maddy so much these days.

My Maddy -

not Anna’s (that’s her name, this horrible witch; that’s what we call her).

My heart feels like it is folding in on itself, into the tiniest little piece of tissue paper

unable to protect itself in any other way but to ball itself up into nothingness.

Saturday was better – we spent time together.

The nurses on Maddy’s ward could see that she was more relaxed, in a better place when she was allowed to be with family

Ivy  was brighter and Maddy had accepted her nasogastric tube with continuous feeds,

she had become accustomed to the expectations of the hospital staff, for her anorexic self

and today

has been calm and comforting, watching as both of my girls become a little  stronger each day.

I think that a leaf of my crushed tissue heart unfurled a little too.

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38 Responses to “The tissue heart.”

  • rachel:


  • Kim @ Frog Ponds Rock (88 comments.):

    LOVE all the LOVE to all your family. xoxox health and love and light I might not be here physically Tiff but I am still here XOX

  • Dianne Nunn (24 comments.):

    Oh Tiff, that pic is at once beautiful and heartbreaking. I am sure that if there is any good to be found in this situation it is that your two fragile girls have a common bond (the tubes that keep them alive). The two girls will hold each other close.
    As for you Tiff, I cannot imagine how you must ache for your babies. All of them. Sending good thoughts to you all. xxx

  • Megan:

    Oh Tiff, you are going through so much. Thinking of you and your beautiful girls, and family always. Always in my thoughts and prayers xxx

  • SassyCupcakes:

    I can’t imagine the heartache this has caused for your family. How cruel for these illnesses not to take turns at least. It’s so awesome how your sweet kids come together for each other. I feel so much for Maddy, for what she’s going through right now. But seeing that photo of your two gorgeous girls, I can’t help but think how lucky they are to have each other at a time like this.

  • Kathryn:

    So much love and healing thoughts to you, your sick babies and the rest of your family. I hope for a happy ending to this hospital stay soon xx

  • Anne:

    Love and hugs and lots of prayer heading your way. I read your post to Shirley (Fressl) and she wanted to tell you she is praying for you all and sends her love.xxx

  • Annie:

    Dearest Tiff

    As a mother, I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. But as a survivor of anorexia that nearly killed me when I was 21, I can feel for what your precious daughter is going through. Like depression, Anorexia lies. She will get better. It took me five years to get back to anywhere near normal, and even now at 48, I cannot diet. (Which is kinda sad because I actually need to 8-) But even now I am too frightened. Because I know how anorexia lies to you.

    My sincere best wishes for you and your whole family.

  • Mary:

    I know about tissue hearts…sending lots & lots of love.

  • valarie k. (5 comments.):

    I am so sorry. I wish things could just settle down for you.

    I had never realized how much Maddy and Ivy resemble one another until I saw this pic.

  • Shar:

    Thank you for writing. I’ve just taken my 18 year old daughter back to hospital tonight. This is the 5th time I’ve had to do this in the last year. It breaks my heart to see her so worn, when she is so young… seeing life sucked out of her. Last year in the midst of my other daughters hospitalisation it started. It still goes on. I felt weak and hopeless tonight, and stupid, and alone. I now know I’m not. There are others who are doing the same thing. Other mothers hearts working overtime. I am praying for you, for your girls, for your family. Thank you for writing.

  • Trish (41 comments.):

    Endless love and strength to you , all !

  • Fe (6 comments.):

    Oh Tiff. SO much love to you. SO much love. xoxoxoxox

  • tricia (169 comments.):

    My heart just broke reading this and I had no words so I clicked away, but then I realized that is exactly what I needed to say… you are all in my prayers. I am glad you are in a place to get help. Hang in there.

  • Amber:

    I’ve been following your blog for several years now, since someone sent me your petition to get IVIG approved for Ivy. This picture, of Maddy & Ivy with their NG tubes, it slays me. I’m so sorry, for all the pain Ivy has endured over the years, for the pain your family has endured, for the pain Maddy is enduring. You are all so brave and strong, even when you don’t feel brave or strong, when you feel anything but brave. I think of you often, when I check my reader, and there’s no post on your feed, I wonder how Ivy’s doing. How you are all coping.

    There really are no words that suffice. All I can really say, and I hope it doesn’t sound too trite, is that my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  • Rebecca Van Hout:

    Sending all our positive thoughts and prayers for your girls! Having recently had my littlest in the hospital I know how hard it is to watch someone you love hurting so much. Hoping both of them are well enough to go home soon!

  • Wanderlust (1 comments.):

    Tiff, I’m sending lots of love and warm thoughts and good wishes from across the sea. Holding your whole family in the gentlest of prayers.

  • Jan:

    So good to know that Maddy has accepted the nasogastric tube for now while she battles her demons. Also good to know Ivy is recovering well. My thoughts, as always, are with your whole family. I hope you have a little time to look after you, too.

  • Vicki (1 comments.):

    What a fabulous Mummy you are. Sending love and hugs for a speeding recovery for both girls. xxx

  • Jen:

    Love and wishes and hoping for better to come for you all

  • Fiona:

    |I don’t know you but a friend recommended your blog and I have been reading for a while. I have no words that could possibly ease your pain,but I wanted you to know that you inspire me as a Mum. You give constantly and I don’t imagine that you get much ‘you time’ or ‘balance’. Your children are beyond blessed to have you in their corner.

    I believe strongly in the power of prayer and wanted you to know I will pray for you and your family. xx

  • BW aka Barbara from Bostoncg:

    Bless and protect you all. So glad you all have each other.

  • Kate:

    Hoping the days get better, Tiff.

  • janet:

    Thinking of all of you, and sending love and light, prayers and healthy blessings to you from across the oceans. You have such a warm and loving family. Their picture is touching… it seems they are giving each other strength to heal.

  • Fiona (115 comments.):

    please die Ana. For as long as you’re hrere we’rer not

  • Cyndi:

    Hugs and Prayers
    Hugs and Prayers
    Ivy and Maddy

  • Peg (7 comments.):

    hang in there…thinking and sending positive thoughts to both of you little girls and your entire family.

  • Mum:

    Don’t know what to say, have no words of wisdom except that I do understand the wretched feelings you are going through and I so wish it wasn’t so. I wish I could carry these burdens for you and give you some relief from all the ongoing heartache.

    Surely, enough is enough already! There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for testing the family’s endurance, least of all yours, Maddy’s & Ivy’s, any further. The future just has to be a whole lot brighter. xoxo

  • Jo (1 comments.):

    I understand that that anorexia is difficult, and sad and terrible. I have battled it, my friends have battled it – it is a part of my world, and will always be. It can get better though – and it does. It did for me. The voice remains but you learn how to tune it out.

    But I do struggle with that photo – to me, it doesn’t need to be here. People who struggle with eating disorders sometimes can, and do, look for ‘thinspiration’. That photo could trigger them – and send them on their own downward spiral.

    Just something to think about. Life is complicated, sad, and awful. Actions, no matter how innocently taken, create reactions.

  • Melissa Mitchell (42 comments.):

    I tried to go cold Turkey, Tiff. But I have not stopped thinking of Maddy since I went offline. I HAD to check today, I don’t know why, I just had the strongest compulsion that I just HAD to. I’m devastated to read she’s back in hospital, but overwhelmingly relieved that she’s accepting help. I miss your voice. I miss your family, the bits I got to share, through your beautiful words.

    My love to all of you. <3 <3 <3 <3

  • Tiff (117 comments.):


    I want to suggest that you look closer at that photo. I do not to see ‘thinsperation’ but hope and help and a family bond between my two girls, who were in the hospital together.

    Photos are my way to process things.


    and I’m sorry but I can’t let anyone take anything else away from me.

    This is my space.

    As the mother of an anorexic I know about photos being triggers. I know about the instagram groups that egg each other on with photos that trigger the disease process and the hospitalisations that teach them nothing but how to work the system and new tricks of the trade. I’m sorry you feel that way about the photo but as the mother of an anorexic I have a lot to process too and this is my way. I’m sure there are many more disturbing photos on the internet that can trigger issues than the photo of two sisters.

  • tricia (169 comments.):

    Way to go, Tiff! I am so proud that you stood up for yourself! I would agree with you, that photo does not inspire thinspiration and is needed to aid you in processing all that you are dealing with. btw, my daughter, the one recovering from anorexia, agrees that there is nothing thinspirational about the photo. Hang in there and take care of you and yours. Blessings!

  • Jennette:

    My heart going out to your precious girls and to you.

  • Tash:

    Sending so much love to you and your girls. My first thought when I saw that picture was how lovely it is for Ivy to have a nasogastric partner in crime ;) hang in there honey xoxo

  • Melissa Mitchell (42 comments.):

    Jo, I’m sorry you’ve battled this too. But I can’t see ‘thinspiration’ {Oh how I despise that sugar-coated term} in this photo. I see a once healthy, vibrant young woman who looks ill, pale and who breaks my heart. Having “known” Tiff’s kids through this wonderful blog, seeing her now – this is the opposite of thispiration. This is a family geared up for battle and a young woman who’s going to need them.

  • jeanie (224 comments.):

    Oh Tiff!! I gave blood today, but I didn’t get to sit under Ivy’s photo today. I was going to give plasma, but they wanted my O neg more urgently – but all the chairs they could fill they had full and I was doing my little prayers for all those who need such stuff, especially Ivy.

    So sorry to hear that Maddy’s struggles are where they are at also – and what a challenge that it is for you.

    Praying hard for as many miracles as you need, my dear.

  • abbie:

    Just wanted to say I’m thinking of you and your family. Love and peace to you all. xoxo

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