Friday, September 19, 2008


Terri Schiavo (1963 - 2005)

Yes, this poster is shocking. Is it in bad taste? Perhaps. Is the message true? Absolutely.

The case of Terri Schiavo garnered international attention. Many who followed the legal battles swirling around the case regarding the removal of Terri's feeding tube were unaware that Terri had struggled with her weight and suffered from bulimia for years. In fact, the consequences of bulimia are what put her in her vegetative state.

As a child, Terri was chubby. She lost 65 pounds on a diet as a young woman but found it difficult to keep off. It was then she became bulimic, attempting to survive on liquids.

"She [Terri Schiavo] would drink between 15-20 glasses of iced tea each day and may have been purging additionally. Before she was 18, she weighed 250 pounds, and then, with her loving mother, decided to lose weight. She did - and went down to about 150, at which time she met Michael [Terri's husband]. She continued to lose weight aggressively, and got down to 110 before she had her accident. At the hospital, her electrolyte imbalance was profound, causing the cardiac arrest. That imbalance could have been caused by the extreme amount of fluid intake. Now, she weighs about 150."
~ Dr. Jay Wolfson

Terri in 1990 after her cardiac arrest

On February 25, 1990, at the age of 27, Terri's bulimia produced a potassium imbalance causing cardiac arrest, which in turn shut off blood flow to her brain. As a result, most of her brain died, subsequently filling her cranium with spinal fluid, not brain matter.

The dark butterfly area in the centre of the photo on the left shows Terri Schiavo's cerebral cortex has been replaced by spinal fluid.

Electrolyte imbalance among bulimics is a common occurrence, and can be deadly. As well, gastric rupture often occurs in bulimics. A case in point is the young girl in this post here:


In perhaps what is the greatest irony of all, Terri was starving herself to death prior to her cardiac arrest. And in the end, it was the State of Florida who ordered the removal of her feeding tube on March 18, 2005 causing her death by starvation on March 31, 2005.

The autopsy on Terri revealed that her brain damage was even worse than experts had expected. Her brain "weighed about half what a healthy human brain weighs, damage that left her unable to think, feel, see, or interact in any way with her environment. There was no chance she could have recovered..."

May she rest in peace.


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Brandee said...

Very sad. I remember the news on this case and reading about the controversy etc. Her husband received alot of criticism about wanting the tube removed and her parents against it. She basically died the day she had the heart attack and her brain filled with fluid.
What's so scary is that she didn't get to severe emaciation of 60 pounds. Those anorexics and bulimics tend to get the attention and get to tell their story which is not the norm of anorexia/bulimia/ed's. It's a risk at any stage of the disorder and one can die two months into it or 20 years into it!
Wake up call for those who glorify the ugliness and dangers of eating disorders.

Anonymous said...

Technically, she died of dehydration. (I read the autopsy report)No doubt she would have died of starvation if she hadn't succumbed to dehydration first. I had mixed feelings in regards to this controversy. I really didn't and still don't understand her husbands desire to end her life when her family was willing to carry the burden (financially and otherwise) of caring for her. One of the most ridiculous arguments I heard in favor of ending her life was that she would have wanted it that way because she was bulimic and wouldn't have wanted the world to see her in such an unattractive state. What a ridiculous position to take. If she was bulimic, and there was some debate over this, the family claiming she was not, then clearly she was not a mentally healthy person and therefore not fit to make such prearranged plans for her care in the event of her becoming a "vegetable". I hope that made sense. Anyway, I commend your efforts in trying to warn people of the dangers of eating disorders and the responsible way in which you are doing it. ie; your warning at the top of the page that this could be a trigger for some people. Good on ya.

Anonymous said...

This sad story is about the effect of bulimia. It is about the need for living wills. It is about families talking together to know a person's final wishes. It is NOT about keeping Terri Schiavo's name in the news so her family and their foundation can raise money for their travels. It is not about giving Sarah Palin public recognition for being such a close friend to Terri (sarcasm intended)and giving her an all expenses paid trip to Pennsylvania so she can make money giving her speech criticizing President Obama and his death panels. We can only assume that Terri Schiavo would be turning over in her grave if her family let Sarah Palin use this day to make a political statement or choose sides in this family fight. It is honorable that the Catholic Church is coming to this memorial service--it is greedy that Sarah Palin is using the occasion for her own self promotion and asking for $25,000 for attendees who would like to have their picture taken or have an opportunity to speak to her. This is not all about Sarah Palin and the Queen of Greed should not be there to draw attention to herself.

Angel said...

The reason why he was in favor of removing her feeding tube was the fact that he got $800,000 from her death