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Never say die

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 29 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:719
  1. Joan Hester, consultant in pain medicine
  1. East Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust

    This year is one of celebration in my family. My daughter, who nearly died from anorexia, is making a steady recovery. The reasons for the illness are complex and may never be fully understood, but I will always feel that my dedication to a career in medicine and my commitment to the NHS were, in part, to blame.

    Anorexia is a frightening illness. It creeps up insidiously, and, even when it is staring you right in the face, you deny its existence. A letter came, anonymously from two school friends: “We are so worried. E is eating a slice of melon and going for a long run. She cannot go on like this.” She is, at this stage, on top of the world, her worries are suppressed by her control over her weight, she is oblivious to the danger, and she has controlled her overwhelming hunger. When challenged she laughs, says she is fine, and carries on eating next to nothing.

    I had to apologise for my own career and commitments

    Realisation dawns that telling her to eat …

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