Photo by Jacky Ghossein
I received the following comment today from Paolo Di Mauro, Catena's twin brother . It is heartbreaking...
"My name is Paolo . And im the twin brother of catena .. Its been very hard and no words can even come close to describe to you how im feeling at this present time. I witnessed my sister slowly but surely deteriorate over her 7 years battle with this dieses. Not only did my sister have to fight her own demons she was also fighting the Hospital staff off how they were treating her and acting towards her . My father was standing up for her rights and making sure she was looked after.. Once the Hospital realized this . They simple treated my sister worse and not only that .. They showed no respect towards my father constantly wanting to take guardianship away from him . Not allowing me or my father to see catena which would drive her insane. They caused more problems to catena which in the long run made her worse caused stress upon my family as well.
On more then lets say 30- 40 occasions because that how many times it accrued catena was sent home only if her blood test results were cleared . Upon say 4-5 hours later catena would either have kidney failure. Faint, heart pains. We would rush her back and she would then have another blood test and the result would be that she is unstable . So why did the Doctors or nurses send her home in the first place . This wasn’t on one occasion this happened. It accrued so many times when they sent her home saying she was OK . And then couple hours later her life would be at risk . My optioned is they simple tired to get RIDD of her.
They gave her a room. With a bathroom in there .. So she could be privileged and in my eyes encouraged to purge . that’s like giving an alcoholic keys to a pub across the road they aren’t helping the situation . They would let her eat Orally and then she would obviously go and purge it up . With Ease .. Shortly after the nurse would approach her and say. Catena because you have thrown up you must have a supplement popper drink to replace what she has just thrown up. Catena would say No they would ask another 3-4 times she would say no . then they would give her the OPTION of having the tube. Anyone one would say No to that .. So then you ask what happens .. They simple put her away in a room no padded walls. Nothing a isolated dark room. Were shed be in there crying for hours like it was detention . NOW Is this how you treat this .. Look everyone this is just like off the top of my head one incident but let me assure you there is SO SO many more incidents that have happened like this or not even worse.
This is a mental disease which becomes physical. And what people I think forget is that they treat the physical more than the mental . How can my sister or anyone get better if they are only attempting to treat the physical part of the disorder. They can never succeed unless the person brain starts to function normally . Which would involve intense counselling continuously and attack the real problem which is in the brain under depression . Once they can start to handle that the person would slowly get better on the physical state .and overall recover . Otherwise these nurses and doctors are just simple going to go wrong again and cost more lives. By just tackling the physical part of the disorder the person is going to become like a balloon he/she weight will just plunder Up and down .And this cannot help that person in a physical way and mental way.
Something needs to be done Now. Its gone on for far to long. Enough is enough how many lives and families need to be scared before people start to realize that they need proper facilities and doctors treating this disease.
Paolo Di Mauro"
Paolo, my heart breaks for you and your father. What a horrific experience you both have been through. Please accept my sincerest condolences on the loss of your dear sister.
The points you make in your message are so true. It is imperative people suffering from eating disorders receive psychological help. Without that, recovery is impossible.
Many thanks for taking the time to write, Paolo. Again, my deepest sympathy on the loss of Catena.
May you and your father find peace...
From The Sydney Morning Herald:
by Caroline Marcus
January 14, 2007:
"Frank Di Mauro did not know if his only daughter would live to see her 18th birthday. Her body ravaged by anorexia and bulimia, Catena Di Mauro weighed just 28 kilograms as the January 5 milestone approached.
Her six-year obsession with starving and purging herself had reduced her to a skeleton, and left her father exhausted from battling the public health system.
In a rare moment of hope, Mr Di Mauro took Catena out of the psychiatric ward of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and home to Lilyfield to mark her birthday. Days later she was rushed back to the cardiology ward, where she remained last night, dangerously ill, her weight having fallen to 26 kilograms, the equivalent of an average eight-year-old.
"She could have a heart attack at any time," Mr Di Mauro said. "It is heartbreaking for me."
When Catena was 12, her mother's death from kidney failure triggered a terrible obsession in the previously happy girl, whose 63-kilogram body began to waste away.
Her father began finding food hidden in the house and garden. Catena began to exercise obsessively in her room and run up huge bills at the corner store, buying food to binge eat then vomit up. Despite Catena's rapid weight loss and disturbing habits, Mr Di Mauro said doctors refused to hospitalise her, telling him she was "not sick enough".
At 14, she became sick enough. She was taken out of school and admitted to the Children's Hospital at Westmead. When she turned 15, her father said he was told she could no longer be treated in the children's unit and would have to be admitted to an adult psychiatric ward at RPA. The aim was for her to put on one to two kilograms. Instead, her weight plunged to 30 kilograms. The next year, her father says, a male patient attempted to rape her.
Despite occasional signs of improvement, her condition has always later deteriorated, culminating in a coma last year.
"It is nearly a year to the day that she was dying in John Hunter Hospital [in Newcastle] and here we are in the same scenario again," Mr Di Mauro said. "She can't hang on much longer like that."
What distresses him most is that doctors refused to readmit Catena when she was an already alarming 36 kilograms in September; it was not until Boxing Day that staff decided she could be hospitalised.
"The system has failed, as far as my daughter is concerned," Mr Di Mauro said. "Our children are just slowly dying away in the background and nobody knows about it.
"It's just amazing that a big state like NSW is the worst for anorexia. There is just nothing out there for these kids.
"I don't want to give up on Catena because I know she can be helped."
An invalid pensioner, Mr Di Mauro said he asked NSW Health Minister John Hatzistergos to pay for his daughter to be treated at a private hospital. The minister had replied that the hospital in question did not have the resources his daughter required, he said.
Mr Hatzistergos wrote to Mr Di Mauro last month to advise that Sydney South West Area Health Service would arrange an external review of his daughter's treatment plan, but Mr Di Mauro said he had heard nothing since.
A worldwide charter for eating disorders is set to be launched here next month.
Jan Cullis, head of the Bronte Foundation, an eating disorders charity, said there was a lot of dissatisfaction about treatments in Australia."
And this sad update on Catena published last week in The Daily Telegraph...
by Kate Sikora
February 11, 2009:
"As Catena Di Mauro left her grandmother's home last week, she whispered the words "You remember I love you".
They were the last words she said to her family before she lost a seven-year battle with anorexia nervosa.
The 20-year-old Sydney woman died on Saturday, her frail body weighing just 32kg. Her ordeal of starving and purging was witnessed by her twin brother Paolo and father Frank, who yesterday paid tribute to his brave daughter.
Catena's obsession with food was triggered by the death of her mother when she was 11.
Becoming depressed, the young girl quickly began to lose weight.
By the time she began high school, she was hiding food and her healthy 63kg body began wasting away.
But despite pleas to doctors that his daughter was sick, Mr Di Mauro was told she "was not sick enough".
It was not until she was 15 that she was admitted to an adult psychiatric ward at Royal Prince Alfred. Her ravaged body withered away to 26kg, the equivalent of an eight-year-old.
While Catena, whose funeral is on Friday, fought her own demons, her invalid father took on the health system and government.
Unable to watch his daughter waste away in a hospital, Mr Di Mauro waged a public fight for adequate treatment centres to be built.
Even through his grief yesterday, he pledged to keep campaigning.
In NSW there are 500 cases of anorexia each year and 20 per cent die."
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Rest in peace, Catena...