Shocking Trends of the New Year: Kaytee, Michelle, Wanda

"I am 16 years old and living with a secret," Kaytee says. "I am a diabulimic. Because I want to lose weight, I don't take my insulin."

"She could have organ failure. She could lose her eyesight," says Kaytee's mom, Michelle. "My
biggest worry is that Kaytee will die."

"I've had weight issues since fifth grade. I was 14 when I got diagnosed with diabetes, and I started gaining weight," Kaytee says. "It just put my desire to be skinny in overdrive. I'm supposed to take insulin with everything that I eat, but five months after my diagnosis, I stopped taking my insulin."

"She could eat what she wants and just not take her insulin, and then she wouldn't gain weight," Michelle explains. "When Kaytee denied that she was not taking her insulin, her doctor basically called her a liar. She manipulates the meter to get a false reading."


"There was a bottle of fake blood. I would use those drops to get a normal reading," Kaytee explains. "The quickest amount of weight I lost was 14 pounds in three days. I have been hospitalized about four or five times. I've gotten to the stage where your lungs and kidneys start to fail, and you can go into a coma."

 

Now, Michelle monitors her daughter closely and gives her the insulin

shots. "A mother's supposed to be able to fix things, and I can't fix this," she says. 

 

"I'm always unhappy when I get the shot because I want to lose weight," Kaytee says, crying. "Being skinny is the only thing I can control in my life. Sometimes it just seems that death would probably be easier than just dealing with it all."

Dr. Phil asks Kaytee, "What do you think is going to happen if you continue this?"

"I already know I'm going to have kidney failure. I know I'm going to lose my eyesight. I'm just already having these symptoms of damage to my body, and I know I'm going to die one of these days because I'm not taking care of myself," she says.

"How is that OK with you?" Dr. Phil asks.

"I feel like I'm invincible; nothing will destroy me, and that I can keep living with this," she says. 

Dr. Phil turns to Dr. Stork. "Her blood sugar two hours before the show was 600," he tells him.

"If you came to the E.R. today, and I sent that blood sugar off, I would get a call from the lab with a critical value," Dr. Stork says. "And your story saddens me so much because you feel like you're choosing between your weight and your insulin. The problem is, if you're walking around with blood sugars of 600, you're steps away every single day of your life from DKA, which is diabetic ketoacidosis, which is deadly. And I know you've actually had an episode of DKA in the past where you had to be life-flighted to a hospital."

Kaytee and Michelle nod.

"When you go into DKA, your body is basically eating itself up," Dr. Stork continues. "Your body literally will break down muscle and fat, and go into what's called a ketotic state, and that's when you have organ failure and possibly death. And you're way too young for this to happen."

Dr. Phil wanted Kaytee to meet Wanda, who's been using this life-threatening weight-loss strategy for 15 years.

 

"I am about 5'3", and I weigh about 112," Wanda says. "I'm terrified of gaining weight. I have been a diabulimic for 15 years. It's a very secretive and deceptive life. When I was 17, I was in a beauty pageant at school, and I needed to lose weight fast. I thought, maybe if I just limit my insulin, and it worked. It worked perfectly. From the point I discovered my dirty little secret, I just started doing it more often, and it's just continually gotten worse."



In her video diary, Wanda says, "I think basically I've been committing, as I call it, slow suicide. Not that I wanted to die, I just wanted to be skinny," she says. "Over the years, I've had 11 laser surgeries. My kidneys are only functioning at 40 percent, and I just feel like I've lost years of my life."

"I wear an insulin pump so nobody controls it but myself," Wanda explains. "As a diabulimic, I would choose something with a lot of sugar in it, like a candy bar. I can binge on anything. The higher my glucose, the more weight I lose. I've gone days without giving myself insulin. I could not stand. I had to be admitted to the hospital. I was in the hospital for a couple of days. They got my blood sugar under control, and all I could think about was I can't wait to get out because these five pounds I've put on, I've got to get them off. I couldn't be a mother or a wife. The diabulimia had become more important than my family. It is an addiction. It is out of my control. I can't just stop."

"Intellectually, you get what's happening, right?" Dr. Phil asks Wanda. "You've had 11 laser surgeries, one major surgery, you've had neuropathies, you've had to have nerve blocks. I mean, your body is deteriorating."

"Right," she says.

"So, even knowing that, you continue to do this?"

"Correct."

Dr. Phil asks Kaytee, "Are you hearing what she's saying here?"

"Every word," she says with a smile.

"Multiple surgeries, 18 days in the hospital, nerve endings shutting down … It does happen. It isn't like maybe it'll happen; it does happen. Tell her the truth," Dr. Phil implores Wanda.

"It does. It will and it's going to," Wanda says to Kaytee. "I felt invincible. Nothing was going to happen to me. I was young."

"You said you felt like the luckiest girl in the world when you figured out ‘All I have to do is skip my insulin, and I can just shrink right down.' You went down to, like, a size 1 or 2, right?" Dr. Phil asks Wanda.

"Right. I've got on size 0 pants today," she says.

"And those 0 pants are wrapped around kidneys that are barely functioning," Dr. Phil comments. "And nerves that are struggling to survive."

"Right," Wanda agrees.

"How much longer do you figure you have to live?" Dr. Phil asks Wanda.

"Not much longer if I keep doing this," she says. "And that's the main reason I came out. I was terrified I was going to die, and no one would know why. They see me as a healthy diabetic because I eat extremely healthy in front of others." Like Kaytee, Wanda's blood sugar that morning was at 600, a dangerous level, even though she says she did take insulin.

Dr. Phil turns back to Kaytee. "So what are you going to do?"

"I don't know. I feel nothing is going to help," Kaytee replies. "I've already been to an intensive outpatient program which is for eating disorders, and the second week before I got out, I just went back to what I was doing again. I feel it's the only thing I can control in my life because everything else is so stressful. I feel I have to be perfect at everything."

Wanda feels the same. "It's the only thing in my life I can control," she says.

"But you have kids at home," Dr. Phil argues. "If you love those children, and I know you must, I would think that you'd do anything, you would go anywhere, you would get any kind of help you could find to get this under control, to give your children a chance to grow up with their mother " all of their mother."

 

Wanda says she has contacted many eating disorder facilities, but she doesn't have the money and her insurance will not cover it.

Dr. Phil addresses Michelle. "If this was my daughter, I'd take her out of the game. I'd take her out of free operant society and put her somewhere to get this under control until it happened."

"We're not turning our back on this," Michelle tells him. "We did the outpatient therapy. That was 10 weeks."

"Didn't work," Dr. Phil says.

"Didn't work," she agrees. The next step is residential care, but Michelle says, "Like Wanda, the insurance doesn't cover it, and they want their money up front. And it's our next step. If we can't get help, then we'll have to sell our home and use the money then to pay for her therapy, but the thing is, they still can't guarantee that it's going to help."

"There are no guarantees," Dr. Phil says, "but what you do is you roll up your sleeves, and you do everything you can when you can. We're going to help with research and resources for you. We're going to see anything we can do to bring resources to bear on this. I don't know. You two seem very poorly motivated." Dr. Phil asks Dr. Stork, "These girls are in danger of dying, right?"

"Every day," he says.

"It could happen today," Dr. Phil tells them. "Something could break, something could shut down, and boy, it is hard to undo it once it breaks. We're going to start doing some digging on this for you, OK?"