November 1, 2007
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — At a doctor’s visit about a year and a half ago, Jade Denny, who was 19 and five feet tall at the time, weighed in at 60 pounds. She had been anorexic since her junior year at Vergennes Union High School, but it wasn’t until this appointment that she acknowledged she had a problem.
If Denny didn’t get help now, her doctor told her, she was going to die.
“When am I going to die?” she asked.
“A week or two, a month, maybe more,” she recalled her doctor saying.
But it wasn’t easy getting help. On paper, Denny looked fine. Her pulse and blood pressure were normal; the hospital wouldn’t admit her.
Over the next month or so, a nutritionist tried to reintroduce her to food. She ate, knowing it was a matter of life or death, but still entrenched in her eating disorder, she began refusing liquids. Her mother, Maria Farnsworth, would later see this as a blessing in disguise; dehydration was her ticket to Fletcher Allen Health Care.
Once admitted, Denny and her mother could meet with a mental health team to talk about treatment for her anorexia.
According to ANAD, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, approximately 7 million women and 1 million men in the United States currently suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia, or self starvation; bulimia, eating large amounts of food and then purging that food by vomiting or using laxatives or diuretics; or binge eating.
Denny was one of about 2 percent of adolescent girls in the U.S. with anorexia.
“I said to Jade that day (at Fletcher Allen), ‘This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say, but this isn’t working and you can’t come home,’” Farnsworth said. “‘You need to go and get help.’”