600 lb woman dies after being surgically removed from her couch

Story here.

How on earth does something like this happen? She became one with the couch. How was she going to the bathroom, or keeping up with bills and shopping and whatnot if she didn’t move off the couch for 2 - 5 years? The article says family members were supposed to be taking care of her; didn’t they notice Mom was assimilating the couch? Didn’t she notice? So many questions…

Holy Crap! :eek:

I got nothing here. I can’t even conceive of how this is possible.


How can a situation get that bad. Not enough information yet to draw many conclusions, but this is just terrible. Whoever’s been feeding her for all the time she’s been fused to the couch - what were they thinking? why didn’t they get some help?

I’m just flabbergasted. Hard to assimilate what life must have been like for that woman and her family.

Has anyone actually found out what was eating Gilbert Grape? It’s a shame the headline didn’t mention an arrest in this case. There is no way this could happen without a caretaker.

Is anyone else’s BS-meter going off in a major way? :dubious:

Yeah, it’s very weird how this could have happened. I did find a Florida newspaper carrying the story too, so it’s probably at least got some level of veracity.

Well, I just saw it on the morning news, complete with footage of the house, which has turned off my bullshit meter. The local station’s pretty good.


I found it a bit hard to believe, too, but I first heard the story mentioned yesterday afternoon on Fox news; at that time, IIRC, they said she was recovering from the couch-removal surgery. After I got to work last night and got some free time, I started looking around for it to see if there were any more details, because it was just so frikkin’ weird.

BTW, I didn’t mean to question your good intentions in any way, Marlitharn. It’s just… wow. What a story. Strange how some things vary between the two links: 40 vs 39 years old, 600 vs 478 pounds. Not that it makes the story any less tragic, of course.

I’d definitely say this was an abuse situation, assuming she really was actually stuck to that couch. Very sad.

Oh, no offense taken, Coldie my luv. I’ve read so many stories of weirdness, cruelty, stupidity, man’s inhumanity to man, etc., most of them right here on the boards…and I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around this one.

Re: The weight difference quoted in the two stories, the twisted part of my brain wondered if she weighed 600 pounds before they removed the couch, and 478 pounds afterwards. I’m really curious to know how this whole thing turns out.

The thing is, barring other health problems, there’s no reason why this woman wouldn’t be able to move to some extent. 480 pounds, while large, is not such a great weight that it should immobilize someone entirely – and it seems likely that if she were honestly just sitting there on that couch without moving for several years and was still eating, she wasn’t yet 480 pounds on the day that she sat down for the last time.

That leads to a serious question about her health – both physical and mental. If she was honestly unable to get up and the man she lived with couldn’t get her up, why didn’t he call 911? Not being able to move is pretty much the definition of an emergency situation. Something had to be more wrong than just her weight; if she was unable or unwilling to help herself in that situation, and the person she lived with just ignored the problem until now (and why now?) then I’m thinking that authorities need to step up the negligence investigation in a big way.

Meanwhile, thank you, fellow Dopers for not making fun of this poor woman. Her death – and life – robbed her of more than enough dignity as it is.


I mean… I’m just… :eek: How does this stuff happen???

This reminds me of a local story here in KC about a year ago. How anyone can let his wife lay on the floor for four months and ADHERE TO THE CARPET is beyond my comprehension. Sick. Sad.

What is scary is that I can see this happening to my wife (this IS NOT a driveby snotty remark).

She has chronic health problems, and outweighs me by quite a bit. She uses her weight and health to not have to deal with the outside world, or do anything she doen’t want to do.

When I have been snotty, I’ve said to her that if anyone ever built a recliner with a refrigerator in one arm, a tv remote in the other, and a toilet underneath, I’d never see her walk again.

I have some real sympathy and empathy for whoever was caring for her. They’re going to be in a real bad spot, because it sounds like the cops and the prosecutor want to have some fun at their legal expense. In a situation like this, you have to feed and care for the person who in may cases doen’t want to do the right thing, which is get off their ass and lose the weight. If you kick them in the butt, you feel like a heel. If you walk away, then it’s endangerment. The caregiver can’t win, can’t break even, and can’t quit the game.

Maybe the difference in weight was With Couch vs. Without Couch. I know that sounds like a sick joke, but they may have been talking about the weight as they hauled her out of the house. How sad. And unbelieveable that her caretakers (and her) were clueless to this bizarre phenomenom.

Well, this was on the local NBC station out of Chicago this morning - http://www.nbc5.com/news/3646642/detail.html?z=dp&dpswid=2265994&dppid=65172

They’re saying about 480 lbs, so perhaps that was couch vs. no couch weight.

Sure he can; when the situation is beyond his control, he calls for help. No one in this world has to go through anything alone. That’s why we have professional rescuers who can come into a house and move out a person who is trapped on their sofa or their bed. That’s why we have hospitals and doctors who can treat people whose weight and illnesses have paralyzed them (literally or figuratively). That’s why we have social services that can provide counselors and in-home health aides and other professionals who can bring resources to the fore.

When you shut all of that out and act like you’re on an island where no aid can come to you (until it’s too late, like in this case) when you’re willfully so obtuse, when you don’t even try to fix things and someone dies a result, what else is that if not the worst kind of negligence? And why should someone be insulated from consequences in such a case?

She was 480 pounds, but she was only 4’10" tall, so that is a very significant amount of weight on such a small frame. But I agree with you that she probably didn’t start out at that weight.

I’m merely guessing here, but it may have all started with severe depression, with the caretaker perhaps waiting for her to “snap out of it”, all the while bringing her meals, etc. and it just got way out of hand and out of his control. I’m not defending the guy, but it’s the way I imagine it may have happened.

After thinking on it some more:

But how depressed do you have to be to piss yourself on the couch? I’m still dumbfounded.

What I don’t understand in a lot of these cases is why, if a person cannot get out of bed or off the couch to get their own food, do the caretakers still overfeed them? The minute that ever happened at my house It would be “here’s your vegetables and chicken, you want something else get it yourself”.

Knowing people who refuse to help themselves and are pretty nasty about accepting help from other people I have great sympathy for this woman’s caretaker. Probably the situation progressed from bad to horrible in such small increments they just got used to it, not remembering what it was like to be normal. It also could be possible that the man living with her is mentally disabled. I know quite a few people who seem fine to everyone else but really don’t have the mental ability to deal with any situation that doesn’t fit into their normal routine, they also wouldn’t realize that they could ask someone else for help.

I saw this story on another message board. Everybody there suspects the woman may have been mentaly disabled, and the family was only interested in the disabilty check. Personaly, I think it was just ignorance of how bad the situation was at first, then when they realised how bad her condition was, they were afraid they’d be in trouble for neglect.