Saturday, August 17

Former anorexic who took parents to court over feeding her has 'miracle' family.

A former anorexic who took her own parents to court to stop them feeding her says having her 'miracle' family has helped turn her life around. Vicki Carter, 36, believed she could never have children as she thought her former eating disorder had permanently damaged her fertility. But she was shocked to accidentally fall pregnant with son Finn, now nine, in 2010, before giving birth to one-year-old son Tobias in February last year. Vicki developed severe anorexia aged 15 after suffering from glandular fever. She was hospitalised multiple times, with her weight dropping from nine stone to as a skeletal four stone thanks to getting up at 6am to exercise alone and eating nothing at all for days. Her case became the subject of high publicity in 1999 when, after being given just two weeks to live, she took parents David, 63, and Linda, 66, and her hospital to the high court in a bid to refuse treatment. But she lost the case, which meant she could be force-fed by doctors.
After recovering in 2003 and believing her former eating disorder had permanently damaged her fertility, Vicki was shocked to accidentally fall pregnant. The mum-of-two said her 'miracle' babies have helped turn her life around 20 years on. Vicki, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, said: "I was 15 when I first got anorexia, I was going through that transition period with exams at school."I had glandular fever, I lost my appetite and never got it back - something just took over."I started getting up at 6am to do aerobics and would eat as little as possible."Now, I have a great relationship with food - my attitude to eating is as different as it could possibly be, "I eat normally, I enjoy takeaways and meals out with family and friends and with my partner Dan and I roll my eyes if I hear one of my friends say they are dieting or counting calories - life is too short."Being a parent has definitely helped my recovery, I like to think my kids could come and talk to me if they had any problems."My family now definitely feels like a blessing, it feels like the anorexia and court case was something which happened to someone else."
After months of her worried parents took her to doctors appointments as her weight continued to drop over a six month period, Vicki was eventually diagnosed with anorexia and depression in 1999. The summer after finishing high school, she was admitted to hospital and spent months on a ward, including her 16th birthday. But after she turned 16, she gained legal rights including the right to refuse treatment. Her hospital and David and Linda argued she would be dead within two weeks and took Vicki to London's High Court to overcome her right to turn down the help she needed. After losing the case, Vicki spent a further five months in hospital being force-fed before being discharged, only to fall ill again and spend six more months on a ward. She said: "At the time of the court case I was at the blurred line between being a child and an adult."The doctors wanted to put me on a tube feed because my organs were shutting down - my body was eating itself."My argument was it may make me better in terms of weight gain, but it would not sort out what was going on in my head."But I lost the court case and they force-fed me via a tube that went down the back of my throat and into my stomach - it was horrendous."I would struggle and pull it out, so the feed would get trapped in my lungs."Now, looking back, I didn't make it easy for the doctors and nurses on the ward - or my parents."My parents tried their best to understand, but I don't think people get it. Even now people don't get it."
After finally being discharged from hospital for the last time aged 19, Vicki was almost recovered but said her appetite would lessen whenever she was confronted with a stressful situation. She worked as an assistant childminder and said this helped her cope with life as she was looked up to and it helped her socialise with people again. But her true dramatic turnaround came at aged 26 when she unexpectedly fell pregnant with eldest son Finn, now nine. The development was all the more surprising as she had not had a period between the ages of 15 and 21 due to her eating disorder, which led her to believe the anorexia had irrevocably damaged her fertility. But after developing cravings for crisps and cheese during her pregnancy, Vicki never had problems with her appetite again. Vicki said: "Eventually while I was still in the hospital, something just clicked in my head that I didn't want life to be like this."Once I wanted to get better I wanted to do it myself - I wanted to be myself and not be watched."It was never confirmed but it was believed I would never be able to conceive children - so when I got pregnant with Finn it was a huge surprise, most definitely."Being pregnant with Finn helped complete my recovery as I was responsible for nurturing another life, not just my own."In 2017 Vicki fell pregnant again with the youngest son Tobias, now aged one, with partner Dan Stones, 28, a British Gas worker. Now she and Dan have recently bought their first family home and Vicki has trained as a counsellor helping other young people with eating disorders. And while her relationship with her parents inevitably became strained during the court case, retiree David and childcare worker Linda are now regular visitors and play the role of doting grandparents to her kids.

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