Eating disorders and Terri’s death
Dear Editor:We are all saddened by the recent events surrounding Terri Schiavo’s death. An entire nation involved in the private issues concerning life and death within a family. We have learned the importance of a living will. We learned how our legal system can be tried and tried again, resulting with the same outcome. What we have not learned is that a very serious eating disorder called bulimia was pivotal to Terri’s ultimate death.Terri suffered from bulimia prior to her heart attack. Bulimia is an eating disorder where a person will take laxatives, exercise excessively and/or make themselves throw up after eating to control their weight. Terri lost over 70 pounds prior to her heart attack. Her potassium level was very low. After her attack and placement into hospital, Michael (her husband) filed and won a malpractice lawsuit against her then attending doctor for not addressing her chemical imbalance which ultimately caused stress on her heart. Michael and Terri were awarded $1 million.I think the media missed a big opportunity to educate the nation about deadly eating disorders. There are over 11 million known cases in the United States of people suffering and from bulimia and anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder where a person, no matter how little meat they have on their bones, will think they are fat and literally starve themselves to control their weight. You may recall that Karen Carpenter, a wonderfully gifted singer in the ’70s, died of anorexia.Instead, our media has brainwashed many individuals into believing that to be thin and skinny is a life choice. And that if you are skinny you will be happy, successful, and people will like you. How about the media picking up something positive from Terri’s death? That Terri’s weakened heart condition could have been prevented by addressing her obsession to be thin. How about tying Terri’s death with the prevention and curing of eating disorders? There might be one person suffering from an eating disorder out there in media land, who, by learning what triggered Terri’s weakened heart, may prevent his or her ultimate death.Debra Ann MayerBoard of Directors, Beyond HungerSan Rafael, Calif. and Aspen
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