On the possibility of an Eating Disorder
The autopsy was NOT conclusive on the fact she didn't have an Eating Disorder. What it said was that it was possible that her potassium deficiency was a result of the life-saving procedures after she collapse - but it did not conclusively say either way.
The autopsy seemed to rely on the fact that her family and friend didn't seem to know whether she had an Eating Disorder or not. But they all agreed she was obsessed with drinking tea, had lost a LOT of weight (100 lbs), and was still actively trying to lose more. The bone scan in 91 (less than a year after her collaspe) was conclusive that she had bone loss, the start of osteoporosis (osteopenia) which, while consistent with her state, is ALSO consistent with an Eating Disorder (and as I said earlier, while osteopenia/osteoporosis are typical in a bed-ridden patient, I don't know that it typically shows up so early on, assuming they were otherwise healthy when they became comatose, paralized, PVS or otherwise bed-ridden).
Eating Disorders are secretive illnesses. People can suffer for years and hide it from their family and friends. The is a lot of shame associated, and those who suffer often take years to tell anyone of their struggles.
On the Money
In November of 92 the jury in the medical malpractice trial against one of Ms. Schiavo's physicians awards more than one million dollars (coming to the conclusion she had an Eating Disorder that the doctor missed). After attorneysâ€™ fees and other expenses, Michael Schiavo received about $300,000 and about $750,000 was put in a trust fund specifically for Ms. Schiavoâ€™s medical care.
This is when the fight starts... in February of 93 there's a disagreement about Terri's care, and/or a disagreement over money (depending on which side you believe). Michael Schiavo and the Schindlers have a falling-out over the course of therapy for Ms. Schiavo; Michael Schiavo claims that the Schindlers demand that he share the malpractice money with them. They try to remove Michael as Terri's guardian.
And it isn't until 1998 that he petitions the court to have her feeding tube removed.
And right up until I believe 2003, the Shindlers believed and agreed that Terri was in PVS.
This case was reviewed by multiple courts, went through exhaustive appeals, had one of the most detailed medical reviews of any patient in history, and was litigated for seven years. Read the court papers yourself... all of them. I certainly have. Over and over all of the courts determined that Terri could not recover, that she was in a persistive vegatative state, and that her wishes would have been to not be kept alive artificially. Even the guardian appointed by the governor comments on the level of care Michael made sure Terri was provided over the years, saying it was impecable. CPS investigated (several times over the years) and found no proof of abuse or neglect.
The autopsy concluded there was no proof of neglect or abuse. It was inconclusive on the cause of her collapse. It didn't say she didn't have a heart attack - it said there were no visible signs of a "typical heart attack" or myocardial infarction. Her heart DID show percardial adhesions or pericarditis (which can be indicative of a heart attack). The autopsy left room to believe a cardiac anamoly might be possible, or other drugs that do not show up in a classic hospital screening (and mentioned the possibility of laxatives or diet pills, though the family didn't know that she if she took these things). It questioned the possibility she may not have had an Eating Disorder, but didn't say she did not. It was also clear to say that with so much time passed, and the fact the body heals itself, it would be hard to determine the exact cause of her collapse. It was 100% clear that no injury was present at the time of her initial hospitalization - no fractures or bruising - and that no healing fractures were observed during her initial months of treatment (and would have been had they been present).
And the autopsy was CRYSTAL clear that she had no chance of recovery, was blind, had liquid in place of nearly 1/2 her brain and the remaining tissue so damage and atrophied it could never heal.
Her family needs to let go.