100 lb. Club - OT: Disturbing Story

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10-26-2004, 03:54 PM
I almost didnt post this. This story has really disturbed me greatly. I am just thankful that this poor woman is in a better place now. It just makes me even more thankful that I have a supportive husband and all you great people at 3fc.
This isnt meant to offend, I just thought in by sharing this story, it can make us all appreciate the support we have.


10-26-2004, 05:33 PM
I heard about this story back in August on another site. It is very sad in so many different ways.

10-26-2004, 05:38 PM
Gosh... that is just heartbreaking.

10-26-2004, 05:41 PM
what a story! kind of made me want to throw up.
So the big question is.. when do we become responsible for each other? sounds like her boyfriend left and she died within a week or two.
She was so young.. I wonder about mental illness with her... could that have been a factor too. She was depressed.

10-26-2004, 05:47 PM
I dont know, but did you listen to the 911 tape? There was a link for it on the left side of the page. The operator asked if she had heart problems and they didnt even know.

It just seems like the family was way too busy getting into trouble to help her out. I mean how long would it have taken to spend a few minutes a day cleaning her up,..talking to her,.. or even picking up the phone to get some help.

I am just so thankful for hubby and 3fc. I do agree that depression was involved, but in a situation like that, I think anyone would be depressed. My heart breaks for her :-(

Ivanna B. Skinny
10-26-2004, 05:58 PM
That poor woman. I feel so awful that there are people who seem to just "fall through the cracks". It seems like she had some family...but no-one who would help her. Yes, she was a grown woman with her own free will, but it seems to me like *somebody*, *anybody* should have helped her. I am glad you posted this, it does really make me appreciate my health, even if I am overweight.

10-26-2004, 06:24 PM
oh... I hate debates... (because I'm never on the majority)
I have to disagree with you on this

"I mean how long would it have taken to spend a few minutes a day cleaning her up,..talking to her,.."

I would not want someone to be alone like that - but what happened to personal responsibility? She broke her leg twice - once she recovered. I believe that one has to want to help themselves too. Should we help out family just because they don't want to help themselves when they are capable? I believe in helping people out - the question for me is - to what extent? Had she ever asked for help - maybe not from her family but from a doctor? she may not of had insurance - but in this country you can walk into an er an not have to pay.

We don't know what she wanted.

I really don't want to step on anyone's toes here.. honestly :)


10-26-2004, 06:29 PM
Oh i understand what you mean. even if she didnt want help, they could have least kept the house in a more decent state. I was assuming she wanted help, you are right, I didnt think that maybe she didnt. But still,... the enviroment itself could have been better at the very least

Goddess Jessica
10-26-2004, 07:13 PM
But in this country, mental health programs are not considered ER kind of stuff. No, this woman should have been helped because she was sick. Yes, there is personal responsibility but only if you have the mental capability to have that responsibility. If you are so depressed that you allow your skin to become fused to a couch, I think you are have crossed beyond being able to ask for help.

I disagree with the attitude that you should be able to ask for help to receive it. She was muted by her disease. She was so scared to leave the couch, she became paralyzed by it.

This happens in the elderly all the time, they have an injury scary enough that they don't want to go through the pain of it again, so they refuse to get out of bed. This happened to the woman twice. If she had been eledery, there would be no question that this was neglect. Just because this woman's disease was obesity as well as a significant mental illness doesn't make it less of an atrocity that she was ignored.

10-26-2004, 07:20 PM
Wow. I can't believe stuff like this happens. :cry:

Personal responsibilities or not... I've got to believe that if that became me, someone, ANYONE would help me.

10-26-2004, 07:30 PM
I read this story back in August and it was quite different than the story told here. They never mentioned the broken legs or anything but it was plainly put that the woman refused to leave the couch and when her boyfriend tried to force her, she refused. Anyway, it is a sad story and I feel for her.

10-26-2004, 07:32 PM
It just makes me sad that she had to go that way,I mean dirty,lying in your own excrement,imagine how she felt when the paramedics had to put on safety gear just to get her out of her own house,Obviously they supplied her with enough food to sustain her weight,so why couldn't her family get her the help she desperately needed.It's is illegal to keep an animal in those conditions and between her obvious weight problem and depression she was in no shape to help herself.I think the boyfriend should be held accountable for letting this woman get so sick.I mean the couch was woven into her back.Can you imagine it?She was probably so ashamed of the condition of herself that she was too embarrased to call someone for help.Would you let your mother,father,sister,child survive like that and not do something?May god be with her.
A big man like that died here a few years ago,I live in a small town so everyone knew of him.Although he was looked after physically,he had major health problems from his weight was told to go on a diet or he was going to die.He was found dead in his bed from a heart attack at the age of 37.They had to take the railing off of the stairs to get him out.It took 12 people to lift him out of the house.And I felt sorry for him that he couldn't do what he needed to do to live.

10-26-2004, 07:45 PM
This truly is a heartbreaking story. It's hard to know what all was or wasn't done or what should or could have been done. We don't know all the pieces of the puzzle and the main player is no longer her to tell her side of the story.

I just pray that Gayle's soul is at peace and that those left behind are able to cope with what happened. It is a reminder to us all though that we have to take care of ourselves and each other.

10-26-2004, 08:24 PM
Maybe she could have helped herself maybe not. However there is no excuse for her family to leave the house or her in that condition. I think of my mom living downstairs and if she became where she could not get around then I am the one responsible to take care of her. Even if it was by choice to not go out or she refused the help. I still have that responsibility to take care of her. Her family is scum as far as I'm concerened. And no one should be left to live that way even if they say they want to be left alone. If she was saying that and refused help she is clearly not in her right mind and needs help.

I see so many saying it's not my responsibility to(Fill in the Blank). Think if our parents took that attitude. Where would we be. We are responsible to help our family. That is a basic principle.

10-27-2004, 12:31 AM
Unfortunately in today's society it doesn't come down to responsibility, you can only care for yourself. If you go out of your way to help other people, you generally get used. And while it would have been nice for her family to help her out, they definitely had issues. And when you are dealing with something big (like robbing people to likely survive) you really CAN only think about yourself. And who would she had gone to for help? To doctors? Doesn't it cost to see a doctor? Doesn't it cost for antidepressants (if she was indeed depressed)? It's clear she didn't have much money, so where does all of that come from? And if you are depressed, you aren't seeing yourself as a priority, so why would you care about yourself? And if you do have family around, and they are pretty self involved, why would they want to be around someone who is depressed when they aren't exactly making it either? There are just so many questions and possibilities, but honestly, I think it comes down to that almighty dollar. If you are in a higher class you know about depression and the treatment for it, and you have the ability to seek out help. When you are poor you are so focused on making it to the next paycheque so you can somehow survive, you don't have the ability to dream or hope for something better.. and I say this from experience. It's a really sad story, and I feel for her.


10-27-2004, 01:06 AM
Unfortunately in today's society it doesn't come down to responsibility, you can only care for yourself. If you go out of your way to help other people, you generally get used.

I'm sorry but if everyone took this view then this world would really be in a bad fix. Way worse then it is now. Could you imagine if everyone took this view how much worse the world would be. You would have no Red Cross, Salvation Army, 3 Fat Chicks or countless others organizations that help people in need. We should help others and we do share in that responsibility to help our family and neighbors. I know I would want someone to help me if I were in a bad situation so I will do what I can to help someone else.

Sorry if I steped on any toes but I really feel strongly about this.

10-27-2004, 01:34 AM
I think people should help others, but it doesn't always happen, and in the end, you can't count on it. And I've seen my brother help friends out, they borrowed 4,000 dollars, and he is now out 4,000. "It's just money" comes to mind, but if I had 4,000? My life would be completely different. Anyways, the point is, lots and lots of people AREN'T generous or helpful, so you just can't expect it and therefore must take care of yourself. Lots of things "should" happen, but they don't. It's sad.

10-27-2004, 01:53 AM
Yes I see where you are coming from in that aspect. You do need to take care of yourself and not expect others to do it. However we can't give up on helping others just because we got burnt. I know it's hard not to feel that way but we can't just give up either. I once heard someone say never lend money expecting it to be paid back. If you can't afford to give it away then you might not want to loan it. That's a hard one to live by but it's a good idea.

10-27-2004, 09:53 AM
I really didn't want to stir things up. I agree that there are alot of missing facts here that we are just assuming.

My question is for all of us.. because we are all overweight. At what point does it become some body elses responsibility for our health? (whether it be being fat or something else?) Since we all have over 100 lbs (or had for some people :) ) to lose we have all put ourselves at a major health risk (or says society)

The details of this case are very distrubing - being fused to your sofa. I can't imagine! How long does that take?

I have a question for all of you.. my Dad is 67 - very obese. He has diabetes. He takes pills for it - but that's it. Doesn't watch what he eats - exercise a little bit - and doesn NOT check his blood sugar. I love my Dad very much. He lives in Canada - so it's not like he is across town. My parents are still parents. What responsibility do you think my family has for him? Sure - he is dying - just slower (I hope) then this woman. I've submitted receipes to my Mom to suggest better meals - but that is all I've done (besides prayer) At what point does the family take over? when he's in the hospital and it's pretty much too late anyhow?

At what point, do you think, that this woman was no longer personally responsible for herself? I completely agree that at the end she could not help herself. How long was she on that sofa?

Who should be responsible? family... how about neighbours too? I think sometimes in this country people are afraid that if they help out they are now responsible for "now on" If someone helped out (out of the goodness of their hear).. went on vacation - is it their job to find a replacement? who would pay for that? If they didn't find a replacement are they criminally responsible? What about the person that kept bringing her chips and soda - weren't they feeding her the "drugs" that led to her death?

These are just questions that come to my head. What happened to that woman turned my stomach. Maybe I have more questions then answers.

Thanks for reading....


10-27-2004, 12:52 PM
I'm sorry about your dad. To me I guess it became her familys responsibility when she could no longer get up off the couch. When she felt it nessasary to use the couch as a bathroom her family shoud have steped in and said this has gone to far. When they are feeding her chips and soda when she can't get up and feed herself then it's time to do something.

I figure when someone is mobile and doing this to themselves then it's hard to step in and do something. They will eat wrong even if you give them the good food to eat.
I take full responsibility for the way I am I did it to myself and I'm paying the pipper. However if something happened to me and I was not able to get up I would hope they would not let me sit in my own waste. Eating habbits aside they should have taken care of her basic needs. They may not of even known how to feed someone nutritionally but they certainly knew that someone needed to be able to go to the bathroom.

That's a hard question to know when to step in and take over someones life. They do have the choice to live the way they want. It's sad with your dad but if he's mobile then I would imagine he would tell you to all get lost if you tried to take over. So until you become a care giver I guess there is nothing you can do except nag them with the ideas you know are right for there life.

My comments above post where directed at the ladies situation. If her family could not take care of her then they should have at least put her in a home and let the state take care of her. It sounds like they were not to stable themselves though.

10-27-2004, 01:07 PM
Dana, I understand what you are saying about when is it your responsibility to assume control of someone else's life. I work as a RN and this is something we are confronted with often. I work in an area where we have mostly seniors as patients and there are families out there who need to make some decisions regardless of what the senior wants. Sometimes it is a question of going to a nursing home or even whether to continue IV or putting in a feeding tube. The fact is though that if a person is competant to make decisions then you cannot disregard their wishes. I don't know whether this lady was competant or if she was so emotionally disturbed that someone should have called social services a long time ago. Obviously the people that saw her regularly thought she was competant (though I can't understand why). I looked after a woman in the hospital who probably would have ended up the same way but eventually someone called 911 and had her taken to hospital. She had a huge bedsore on her bum, it went right down to the bone and was hugely painful. It took 2 nurses 1 hour to change the dressing which was done 3 times a week. But to talk to her you wouldn't think that she had any kind of emotional problem, she chatted with me quite normally.

10-27-2004, 04:46 PM
I read this article yesterday and it has stuck with me mainly because I am wondering if they have places for people to call for help. I mean they have suicide hotlines and centers for battered women. Is there a center for the morbidly obese? Or some place for people and family to go to get help when a loved one is going through something like this. I've struggled with depression for forever, it feels like sometimes, and I know that family can only say so much before you begin to block them out. Sometimes it takes a new face and new voice to jolt you out of yourself long enough to take a look around and see what's happening to you. I'm going to look into this.

Also something about the family's response to this bothers me. I can't put my finger on it but I feel like they knew something was going on and just didn't want to get involved. Maybe I'm watching one too many X-Files reruns. :cool:

10-27-2004, 10:35 PM
I believe that the family probably took an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to the situation. I'm sure they knew what was going on to some extent, but probably wrote it off as "just the way things are in this family". You know how you might have a crazy uncle that everybody knows is not quite all there, but there is just this unspoken rule in the family to overlook his outlandish ways and everybody minds their own business? She also may have refused help and purposefully alienated herself from friends and family due to sheer humiliation. I know that I would have tried desperately to keep anyone from seeing me in such a state if I were in her situation. She was probably fully aware that she really needed some help, but the shame may have been too much to bear. What a sad, senseless tragedy, that could very well have been prevented.


10-27-2004, 10:44 PM
This story just breaks my heart....

That's all I can say on the subject.

10-28-2004, 01:30 AM
I read this story back in August as well. When I first heard it, I thought it was made up. I mean, how a person fuse to the couch? I just didn't know if I bought that. But it appears to be a true story and it is scary.

This story just has me conflicted in a number of ways. The issues of personal responsibility vs. helping a person who may not be able help themselves are enough to give anyone a headache. Do people need to be responsible for themselves and their own health? Yes. But are there times when they just can't for emotional or psychological reasons? Yes, I think that is true also.

Everyone is made up of their own issues/hurts/insecurities and sometimes these get in the way of rational thought and behavior. I can see this woman being my mother. My mother at 445 already has issues with her mobility. She is very insecure and dependent, from an emotional stand point. When she was 19, and 6 months pregnant with my oldest brother, she weighed 190. Around 1996, she was probably 280? or so. She wore a size 26/28. Three years ago, she was at 350. Now, she is 445. She smokes. Eats junk. Can't exercise. She's has diabetes, high BP, congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions I don't know how to spell and I don't want to take the time to look up. I live with the fear she is going to die very soon. Too soon. She is only 56. I'm afraid she'll die before I can have kids.

Now, she at least tries to be mobile, help with the house and cooking. She takes her meds and checks her sugar on a regular basis. She looking at trying to start Weight Watchers. But there were times when this wasn't so. There have been times she (and sometimes we kids along with her) lived in squalor and poverty, with her being too depressed to care for herself or us. Knowing her history and her childhood, I understood where these behaviors came from, even if I resented it as a kid.

She holds herself together now, but one setback, one trauma could send her over the edge and onto the same path of destructive behavior where she is living on the couch with house being in a state like this lady's..she will be on a downward spiral until something snaps her back at what seems to be the 11th hour. I worry that the next time, there won't be any comeback. This woman could have been my mom. Sometimes I wonder if she could be me.

10-28-2004, 04:19 AM
Very eloquent and thought-provoking, Jackie. Thank you.

10-28-2004, 03:37 PM
I have found by experience that you can't help someone who does not want it.All you can do is let them know you love them uncondtionaly and that you'll be there for them if and when they want help. My sister is a speed addict and is dying from cervical cancer. For years we begged her to see a doctor because of the abnormal bleeding, she refused until she was a stage 4.Kemo and radiation have given her years but she refuses to give up the speed. She has rinards and an arthritic hip also. The doctors say the renards was caused by the speed and it continues to make it worse. They wanted to do hip replacement but couldn't unless she got off speed ,which she refused.Her life is **** now but still she won't give up the speed.It's not like she couldn't. She once gave it up for 2 months because she had hallucinations that bugs had invaded every inch of her home.It's hard not being able to help her and it's come to the point where I've had to withdraw some just to prevent her distruction from devistating my life to.