Rachael Farrokh, a warrior fighting the relentless grip of anorexia nervosa for the past 10 years, has reached a desperate crossroad. Weighing under 50 pounds, she finds herself abandoned by local hospitals, leading her to make a heartfelt video plea, seeking aid from the compassionate masses.
Meet Rachael, a vibrant 37-year-old with a passion for acting. Her life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with a debilitating disease a decade ago, abruptly ending her acting career. It all started innocently enough, with Rachael simply aiming to shed a few pounds for a flatter stomach. Little did she know that her weight loss journey would spiral out of control, causing her to plummet from a healthy 125 pounds to a shocking 40-something pounds.
She hesitated to seek assistance until this moment, fearing she would impose on others. Admitting her battle with the disease has undoubtedly been arduous. But as her health deteriorates rapidly, she can no longer endure in silence. In a poignant video shared on YouTube, she musters the courage to make a heartfelt plea for financial support, as this costly treatment might be her final hope.
Witness the struggles of Rachael, who can no longer navigate life’s challenges on her own. Rod Edmondson, her devoted husband, made the heart-wrenching decision to leave his job and become her full-time caregiver. Ravaged by heart, liver, and kidney failure, time is running out for Rachael unless she receives the help she so desperately needs.
According to the GoFundMe page created by Rod to save his wife, there is one specialized clinic that offers hope for treating severe anorexia. Surprisingly, all other hospitals have turned them away, deeming her dangerously underweight as too much of a liability. The delicate process of refeeding is a high-stakes challenge, as an influx of nutrients could potentially accelerate her decline instead of aiding her recovery.
Step into the world of eating disorder therapy with Leora Fulvio, a skilled psychotherapist. She specializes in helping individuals overcome these challenges and shares her expertise, “Her metabolism and heart rate are most likely extremely low, her electrolytes are likely completely off balance and her organs are most likely shutting down. If she were to just start eating, she would most likely just die quickly, either from a heart attack or because her organs were not able to process the food.”
According to Dr. Michael Strober, a renowned professor of psychiatry and director at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital’s eating disorder program, the body’s response to sudden nutrient intake, known as the refeeding syndrome, can be quite intriguing. He explains that a rapid increase in calories can trigger metabolic adaptation, leading to various hazards that may even become life-threatening. In simpler terms, if she’s bombarded with nutrients, her metabolism will go into overdrive, causing her to shed weight at an accelerated pace.
According to Rachael’s account, her last hospital admission and the subsequent influx of fluids triggered a disturbing and swift decline in her physical well-being. She told ABC, “When I went to the hospital in January, they flooded me with fluids, and I gained 40 pounds overnight in water weight. That’s when my body started shutting down.”
Fulvio says, “She needs constant monitoring to insure that she doesn’t pass away as she is so close to death. Just moving, walking can be stressful to her heart and cause a heart attack.”
But there’s still hope. The “Rachael’s Road to Recovery” fund has reached an incredible milestone of $58,000, surpassing half of its $100,000 goal. This generous support will directly contribute to covering her medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. Rod’s unwavering determination fuels his mission to bring his beloved wife back from the brink. Once fully recovered, Rachael aspires to share her inspiring journey and offer a guiding light to others battling mental illness. Together, let’s rewrite the narrative of resilience and compassion.
Laura Discipio, a licensed clinical social worker and the passionate executive director of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, explained how the illness works to ABC. “Just as you are compelled to go off your diet, they are just compelled to stay on it. Just as you are compelled to eat, they are compelled to restrict. It is a psychiatric, biological illness. It is totally not a choice. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.”