'40-Some Pound' Anorexic Woman Tells Her Story

Rachael Farrokh's goal: to help others, save herself
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 25, 2015 9:00 AM CDT

Rachael Farrokh's 10-year struggle with anorexia has reached its breaking point—which is why the 37-year-old decided to tell her story to ABC News. "I want other anorexics to hear this," she says. "This is miserable. Everything hurts from my head down to my toes." In a YouTube video she created earlier this year, she said she is 5'7" and "40-some" pounds, and Farrokh and husband Rod Edmondson now outline her many health issues: She can no longer walk on her own; she speaks slowly and loses her train of thought; she has osteoporosis; she's experienced heart, liver, and kidney failure. She's been in treatment before, but currently doesn't reach the minimum weight that most facilities require, she says. As two eating disorder doctors explain, the "refeeding" process can be life-threatening if calories are increased too quickly, and most hospitals aren't equipped to do it safely.

But Farrokh and Edmondson, who quit his job to act as her primary caretaker, have so far raised nearly $180,000 on GoFundMe for medical expenses, and because of that CNN reports that she will be able to begin treatment. "There is only one hospital in the country that specializes in refeeding patients at such a low body weight and it’s my mission to get her there," the GoFundMe page explains. That would be the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at the Denver Health Medical Center. But the California woman says she's currently too weak to travel there, so the plan is for the treatment to be brought to her at first—she'll see her calories increased by as little as 25 each day—until it's safe for her to travel. As for her struggle with the disease, Farrokh—whose husband says she has always been "a perfectionist"—attributes it to "the perfect storm" of losing her job while "also going through trauma from my past. ... I just felt out of control," she says. (Strangers at a gym intervened to save an anorexic woman's life.)

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