Saturday, January 25, 2014

600-lb life: Penny review/synopsis/SPOILERS

The next installment of TLC's My 600-lb Life features Penny, a 46 year old Maryland woman weighing 530 lbs.  The opening scenes show her husband rolling her over to give her a bedpan to poop into.  She can't roll over on her own.  It takes both his hands and what looks like a lot of strength for him to get her from her back to her side.  In the next moment he is bringing her a large tray of fried food, maybe chicken tenders or pieces of fish.
She says she weighed 300 lbs by age 22.  Her world has shrunk to her bed and as far as her arms reach.  She admits that if her son wouldn't come to her, she'd never be able to do anything for him.  Her husband Edgar has had to take over all the family duties, video taping the son's extra curricular activities for his wife to watch and Skyping from the dinner table to her hospital bed in the other room.
He met her when she weighed 450 and did not mind her weight at that time.  When she got pregnant she weighed 630 and then she couldn't lose it.  Edgar can't work as he's a full time caregiver to his wife, and they live off her disability.
Her history includes an abusive father, not surprisingly.  Her sisters feel that she's going to die before her son is 10 (not sure how old he is).  So she decides to head to Texas for weight loss surgery, where she will be lying on a hospital mattress on the back of a van, unable to get out until the journey is finished.
She needs a stretcher and several paramedics/firemen to get her outside to the van.  She fills the entire back of the van.  On the way they stop for fast food.
Our usual friend Dr Nowzaradan meets her in the parking lot because she can't get out of the van unassisted, and again many people and a stretcher are needed to get her into the hospital and in a bed.  Her BMI is 85.7.
The doctor questions her need for oxygen says that she has "issues" and that "she plays a victim" and forces her family to be "enablers." He puts her on the usual 1200-calorie-a day-diet to see how much weight she can lose in the first month.  She loses 40 lbs in the first couple of weeks so he agrees to do surgery on her--the "first" surgery.
He gives her a sleeve gastrectomy too, like the last one.  Her stomach is initially the size of a football.  But when she awakens after the surgery, she says she has no plans to get up and walk, making a joke about being able to play the piano after hand surgery when she couldn't play before.  I know that you have to be up and walking that day, and every day, until you go home.  Even with weight loss surgery, you can't neglect to exercise.
Her husband shows off their new apartment.  The fridge and cabinets are full of soda and junk food and fast food.
She loses ZERO weight after surgery.  ZERO.  She complains that "no one told me I had to lose weight when I got here."  (At that, my husband, who wasn't really watching, snorted loudly and said REALLY?)  She says she's on the wrong diet (1200 calories post bariatric soft food).  Dr N says someone has to be sneaking her food.  She claims that she can't even finish her food.   She insists she's lost weight, but says she is unable to stand up.  He says "she has convinced herself that she's permanently disabled" and that he "can't help her" anymore.   He sends her home for noncompliance after 3 months, when she hasn't lost a POUND since her surgery.  
Even my husband was in disbelief that anyone her size, on a restricted calorie diet, having had WLS, could not lose even a pound.  I can't believe that her hormones could be that far out of whack (or that Dr N wouldn't have tested them)!
Her husband brings her to their new apartment, where she complains that the couch blocks her view of the TV from where she is living on a mattress on the floor.  All she does is bitch and complain at her poor hubby.
A month later, a physical therapist is coming to her apartment to get her up and walking.  He has worked with bariatric patients, although  none so large.  She complains about pain, that she can't get up, that she can't even move her legs.  She wouldn't even move to her side, her "oxygen gets wonky" and the therapist complains that she's "full of excuses" and nothing is accomplished. She misses a weigh-in.
She complains (yes I am using that word a lot) that she "wasn't given a diet" and she goes back to her old eating habits instead of the high protein low carb regimen she was given.  Her husband says "I thought deep frying everything at home was healthier than going out to eat."  (From the peanut gallery of my husband: "Really guy?  Deep frying is healthier?")
The doctor calls her a few months later because she has blown off every appointment and he says she has to be brought to a hospital to be checked out--immediately.  Again with the paramedics and the bariatric ambulance.  She tells the paramedic she's lost 340 lbs.  She shows the doctor how her skin is so loose and hanging, and complains that she has no scale.  She still can't stand. And...she's GAINED weight.  She claims that the original scale was wrong and starts crying and the doctor goes off on her, says he has signed many death certificates for people her size.  She counters with saying she can reach her vagina to clean it and she couldn't before so she must have lot of weight.  She is so deep in denial.  Her husband says she didn't gain weight.  She keeps crying that she's "stuck in Texas" and she was mis-weighed in the beginning.
The doctor says she's her own worse enemy and the husband is the second worse.   In the background, her husband is saying "Are you hungry? I'll get you some ice cream."   And the paramedics take her back home.
Her husband says she is trying, they are eating better, but she is still unable to stand, much less walk, even after months of physical therapy.  She claims she is a better mom (because she doesn't ever leave the house) than women who work.
11 months in, she is saying that the doctor didn't give her "appropriate tools" and that's why she failed.  A nutritionist comes to her house.  Penny is very rude to the woman.  The woman goes through their fridge and cabinet, finding cupcakes and cereal.   Meanwhile Penny is saying to her son see the mean lady is here to take your cereal.  And Penny says the visit was a bunch of "bulls--" to her husband as soon as the woman leaves.
She goes back to the hospital to get weighed, cries and cries that she can't sand up, and the end result is she hasn't lost any weight--10 months post surgery.  He says he did the same surgery on other people the same weight at the same time and those people now weigh 250 lbs.  All she does is cry and yell at the doctor, who says she has "no willingness to get well."
Penny goes back to Maryland.  They show her eating biscuits and mashed potatoes, the same size she was at the beginning.
Very sad.
Photo sources:  TLC, Dr Valin

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Friday, January 17, 2014

600-lb life: Olivia review/synopsis/SPOILERS

Oliva Cruz and her lymphedema leg/belly.
This is the episode of My 600-Lb Life I've been waiting for, with the woman with the horribly advanced lymphedema.
Olivia Cruz (46 years old, 578 lbs) is the one who they show crying and unable to pull herself up the stairs in the various commercials. Her stomach hangs below her knees.  Her lymphedema mass is so hideous it makes me cry.  It looks like she showers and then puts on the same giant red house dress as she was wearing earlier (no washing it) over her naked body, no bra, no underpants.  (Although I'm not sure how underpants would fit her body shape, honestly.)  When she is showing her lymphedema (right leg), which is in the elephant-man stage (my term, not a medical term) you can see a bit of the same hardened tumorous flesh further up.  I assumed it was her thigh but it's her BELLY.  Her panniculus has lymphedema.  Oh my god.  How does that even HAPPEN?  The screen shot is dark but you can kinda see the hard tumors on her lower stomach flesh.
Close-up of her poor, poor leg.  :(  
Olivia has a twin sister.  That's got to be heartbreaking for both of them.  In my high school there was a set of identical twins where one was skinny and one was obese.   What must it be like every day to be fat and see exactly what you'd look like if you lost weight?   And for the slimmer sister to see her fatter sister's struggle and know how exactly comfortable her sister could be in a smaller body?
Although in this case, the twin is also overweight, but not as much.
Olivia lives in the basement in a kind of hacked together apartment so everything is on one level.  She's on oxygen and her family--mother/sister--does everything for her.  Including bringing her McDonald's, pizza, and other food; and medicine; and oxygen.  She admits to eating "6 or 7" slices of pizza and then crying over it and eating cupcakes and then eating more pizza when everyone leaves.
Olivia (but not her sister)  was molested as a child, which probably precipitated her weight gain.  She said she weighed 250 lbs in high school, to avoid people.  She tried to kill herself a few years ago.
She also had weight loss surgery before, at almost 600 lbs, and the surgery "didn't work" (whatever that means).
She leaves her twin (they've hardly been apart in their lives) to travel from her home in Chicago to Houston to see our old friend Dr. Nowzaradan, which is when she finds out she can't get up the stairs between her panniculus and her edema leg holding her back.
I get that; my leg is nowhere near as bad and I often drag it when I walk because it's that much heavier.
She also could barely get into the back of the big SUV, and she took up the whole back seat.
She actually moves to Houston, to live with her brother, all her things in a U-Haul, to see if she can have more weight loss surgery.  I guess it depends on what she had done before; I know certain kinds can be converted to other more restrictive types.
Her weight is 580 at the first appointment.  She says she had an experimental weight loss surgery where 4 inches of her intestines were removed and then she got a lap band.  And she still weighs almost 600 lbs.  The doctor says it's "mind-boggling that you still continue eating" after all that. (I think he means over-eating, or eating improperly, because obviously she's got to eat something or die.)  He says if two surgeries didn't fix your overeating, why do you think a third one will?
And here I am, half her weight, and considered psychologically impaired enough with my eating disorder to be ineligible for even a lap band. Is she saner than I am, even though she attempted suicide?  Or is her case that desperate, between her immense size and her terrible, terrible lymphedema?
Food goes into the tiny pouch
and you get full fast.
She argues with the doctor that if she gets a bypass that her stomach will then be small and she won't be able to eat.  Um, the lap band does that too, and it's adjustable.  I wonder how tight it was.  I know my friend used to get hers adjusted, tightened if she didn't lose enough weight between appointments (or gained) and loosened if she was in pain or started vomiting.   Maybe Olivia's other bariatric doctor just gave up with trying to fine-tune her band.
The doctor says "she's in some kind of self-destructive mode" and needs to be under observation "to see if she can follow instructions" before she can have surgery.   He said she is too "used to giving up when it gets hard" and meanwhile Olivia is saying that she's "starving" on the 1,000 calories a day allowed in the hospital.
But she's allowed to get the surgery, weight loss surgery NUMBER THREE.  (I do have to wonder who is paying for these.  They aren't cheap and insurance doesn't usually pay.)
"excised" is a nice way of saying "thrown in the trash"
They remove her lap band and give her a sleeve gastrectomy, which is where a big portion of the stomach is completely removed.  You basically have no stomach, just a narrow portion no wider than the intestine and esophagus that connects the two.  This one is very effective because it removes the area of the stomach that makes the hunger hormones (gherlin? leptin?  one of those).
The day after the surgery, she said she doesn't crave anything, that smells repulse her, and that a couple spoonfuls make her full.
She ends up being in the hospital for 3 months post surgery, and is down to 360 lbs when she leaves.  She walks much easier when she leaves, although still using a walker, and is off her oxygen. She is still wearing a giant shapeless house dress but it appears that she has a sports bra on.
Although she tries, she can't make it up the stairs to the second floor of her brother's house on the first day home.
She still has the lymph edema of the leg and belly, with the belly still hanging past her knees at six months post-surgery.  But she only lost 6 lbs from when she went home from the hospital three months before.  And the doctor goes off on her for eating too much still, saying she's eating twice as much as she should, and she can't have the lymph edema tumors removed until she's under 300 lbs.  Which, at 6 lbs per 3 months weight loss, is going to be a looooong time.
He says the growth will come right back if he takes it off now, and says she has to lose the 50 lbs in a month and that she should be able to.  She is 6 months post surgery and still in the golden period of weight loss (which is about 18 months, then you're stuck where you end up and may even start to gain again).
She takes a walk--800 feet to the end of her brother's street and back again, hardly able to breathe, with frequent rests.  Dragging that leg and that belly, ugh.   At her next appointment she is 292, down 51 lbs, and she's approved for her lymphedema removal.   And she weighs 5 lbs less than her twin, even with all the tumors.  When she goes in for surgery, she has lost just about 50% of her starting weight.  Although it appears that the doctor is only going to take the belly portion of the lymph edema off, her leg is also really bad in the front.  The back is red and looks like it could still have some circulation.  The doctor had to tie off 400 blood vessels and do a FOUR FOOT incision to remove just over 40 lbs of lymphedema, bringing her down to under 250 lbs.  (Something I haven't been able to manage).
She is wearing pants at the end, not a shapeless dress with no underwear.  She's much smaller, but still very lumpy-looking, down 339 lbs, and she goes to a family reunion, where she is visibly skinnier than her "skinnier" twin.
I don't know what happens to her lymphedema leg; it's never addressed.  All that waiting, no answers for me.
image sources: TLC, TLC, Hartford Hospital, and Dr Valin (the guy I never could get an appointment with even though I tried for a year)

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

600 lb life: Zsalynn review/synopsis/SPOILERS

The initial picture of Zsalynn in the episode.
I've been looking forward (in a weird way) to seeing this episode of My 600-Lb Life (Zsalynn) because the commercials for it kept showing her leg, which is clearly an advanced lymphedema leg, and as my faithful readers know, I have lymphedema in my leg so I like (wrong wrong...?) to see others with it and how they manage their disease. Usually if someone's on TV with lymphedema it is way more progressed than mine is, of course, but it's also a bit of inspiration for me not to allow my leg to get that bad and to keep up with my 6 hours of therapy each week even if I am tired or don't want to go.
 This series is on TLC and follows morbidly obese people, usually in Texas, under the care of Dr. Narzaradan for several years as they undergo various weight loss procedures.
Zsalynn Whitworth is morbidly obese and started out thinking of herself as "Miss America" in spite of her weight, until she got so fat she became almost  immobile, 597 lbs at age 42.  She entirely fills the shower.  Her life is eating, sitting, watching tv, and sleeping.  Movement is painful and "unbearable."  She says that from freshmen to senior year of high school she went from 170 to 375 lbs.
She says her addiction to sugar "is like crack cocaine."  She goes grocery shopping and then sits in her car and eats donuts, saying it's like sex.
When she was 19 she discovered the National Association for Fat Acceptance and embraced it wholeheartedly.  Her formerly fat friend says she was the "fat girl rock star."  Fat admirers paid for trips around the world for her, and met her husband through the group. By age 29 she was over 500 lbs and became a recluse instead of a "queen."   Although her husband married her because of her size, now he feels she's too fat, they "can't do anything together" and "be careful what you wish for."  Seems like some buyer's remorse there.
Zsalynnn's biggest sadness is how her obesity is affecting her young daughter's life.  Her formerly fat friend (Bonnie?) has taken over the more active parts of parenting as Zsalynn is physically unable.
Pushed to her limits, Zsalyann makes an appointment with a weight loss surgeon (the familiar Dr Nowzaradan), driven there by her faithful friend.  I wish every morbidly obese person had a friend like her.  I wish I did!  (I have great friends, don't misunderstand me.  But this friend seems to go above and beyond and sometimes you do need that.)
She weights 597 at the initial appointment and says that her hope is that, once her intestines are removed, that eating sugar will make her really sick and therefore she'll stop eating it.  However the doctor says the only thing it will do is keep her from eating a lot at one time.  (So perhaps his method of surgery doesn't cause "dumping"--the sick feeling from eating sugar that many post-WLS patients have?)  He says that it's false hope to think surgery will keep her from eating sugar, especially when she admits she eats as many times a day as she can and that there's a hole in her soul she tries to fill with sugar.
The doctor says she has to learn 20-30 lbs, cut down her eating, eat 2-3 times a day with no snacks, and to return in 2-3 weeks.  Which means he expects her to lose 10 lbs a week on her own, after she said she couldn't lose any weight.
I understand, from having gone through the pre-op stuff myself (failed the psych, surprised?) that the weight loss is primarily to shrink the liver and make the surgery easy.  But if us extremely overweight people could drop 20 or 30 lbs in less than a month, wouldn't we be DOING IT? 
She is terrified of dying, dropping dead, but also of how difficult it's going to be.
I don't understand some of the things she doesn't do.  She can drive a car and walk around her house (slowly) but when her daughter wants to play she has a friend bring her to the parking lot because she "can't go walk through the gate" (which I don't understand) and she sits in the car and watches the child play.
A month later, she's down 28 lbs (although how she did this isn't detailed) and is declared ready to go.   I can only think that most of the other pre-op work they must not film because I had to endure weeks and weeks of dietician meetings, psych evals, weigh-ins,  pre and post op group meetings, and provide exhaustive lists of food consumed and calories expended.  We won't talk about all those $40 co-pays, all wasted when at the end I was a big fucking failure.
Two weeks after that, boom, she's having her surgery.  And I have to notice that they haven't shown her lymphedema leg which makes me think it must be another episode with a woman with bad lymphedema.  Her husband is unhappy and not supportive, as he married "a fat happy wife" and now she'll be thin, and his sexual preference is for a very fat woman and if she's thin she will be "repulsive" (he said that!  that his wife would be REPULSIVE!)  When I was looking her up, I noticed she is on Twitter and part of her description says "wife to an angry man" so I feel for her, as I am also wife to an angry man, although mine isn't angry because I'm fat but because of his family situation. 
Her daughter and her friend Bonnie (I'm calling her that, sorry if it's wrong) go off to the Houston hospital for the surgery while her husband stays behind.  Hoping that's because he's working, and not because he's a jerk, although both may be possible.  My husband came to one post-op group therapy with me, out of all the appointments I had all those months.  He was simply not interested, and probably would not have been terribly supportive, as he has been known to eat pasta in front of me when I'm trying to do a low-carb diet.
From the description, it seems like the surgery is to reduce the stomach size only, with no re-sectioning of the intestine, which is what she was counting on to limit her sugar intake.  It's done laproscopically (less scarring, easier healing).
Post surgery, she is eating 1200 calories a day.  She is shocked to still have food cravings, and to still want to eat.  Surgery fixes a small amount of the problem--you simply can't eat in volume anymore--but it doesn't and can't fix any mental issues.
She is able to get up and walk (which is know is required) and reveals that she hasn't talked to her husband since before her surgery, which makes me feel sad for her.  He demands to know how much weight she's lost (in one day!?) and then starts telling her how he went out for tacos and she hangs up on him, which I don't blame her one bit.  Jerk.  Maybe careful editing makes him look bad, but her twitter description calling him "angry husband" makes me doubt that.
Her husband came after 3 days to pick her up, but shows up very late, and complains that he expected her to be looking "skinnier" and says that he's not doing any dieting himself and not to expect that.  On the way home he goes through a fast food drive through, offering her french fries.  In a voice over, she calls him a jerk for it.
Four months later, she's about 100 lbs down, trying to find food that's high in protein.  She gets sick to her stomach easily and has to force herself to eat three times a day.  She has frequent breakdowns, crying over the loss of her "friend" sugar.  At her next appointment she's down 150 lbs, saying that everything tastes bad.  The doctor feels that she should have lost more, closer to 200 lbs, and asks her to lose 50 lbs in the next month.  So she makes an appointment with a personal trainer at a gym and says her husband is going to "freak out" over it.  The cost?  I can't imagine that.
Ah, yes, the cost.  He says she should work out at home and not pay someone $50 and then when she says she wants a salad for her meal, he retorts that he's not buying her a salad and she can go "in the yard and eat some grass."  Holy shit.  What a fucktard.
The husband says their marriage "wasn't worth it" to their upset daughter.
At 6 months post surgery she's down 200 lbs with a goal of doing a 5k with her daughter.  Her husband mocks her exercise efforts and says "now are you going to cry all afternoon that your feet hurt?"
She admits to still drinking diet soda once in a while (carbonated drinks not allowed after WLS because it will stretch the stomach) and that she has to break some rules.  But on her next visit she hasn't lost weight and the doctor goes off on her for the once a week diet coke.
A year out, at the end of the show, she is  at 350 lbs.  She manages to go to the playground that she couldn't make it to earlier.   The day she was supposed to do the 5K she is on crutches due to an ankle injury.  Her husband mocks her cooking and she says eventually she won't be able to "take it anymore" and I don't blame her one bit.

(It looks like NEXT episode is the lymphedema lady, btw.)

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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Half Ton Killer (review/synopsis/spoilers

It’s that time of year again, when all the stories of morbidly obese people are shown on TV.  Will they stick to their diets and lose the weight?  Or will they die?  Or maybe gain it all back?   We’ll find out.
Now we have the two part Half-Ton Killer, on TLC (TLC used to be the Learning Channel and now it's the Freak Show channel,) the story of 1,100 lb Mayra Rosales, who allegedly killed her 2-year old nephew when she suffocated him with her bulk. 
Her poor legs are just sacks of lymphedema.  When they take off the blanket, it looks like she’s sitting on a huge pile of flesh-colored pillows, to her front and back and sides, but all that his HER.  The red hard lymphedema tumors are all over her lower body.   As far as she can reach in every direction, her flesh is spread out on the bed around her—while she is sitting up.
I made my husband look at her because I was crying, saying, “that’s what I have, I could look like that” and he said, “no you couldn’t” but it’s a constant fear I have, that something will happen and I’ll get stuck in bed for an extended period of time and next thing they’ll be taking down the bedroom wall and using a whale hoist on my naked body while my neighbors gawk.
You might remember the story in 2008  Somehow she fell on her nephew, Eliseo Rosales Jr., and crushed him to death.  It was all over the news.
I remember wondering who left a child alone with a 1,100-lb bedridden woman?  I thought I blogged about it but maybe I just posted on Facebook.   (And good luck going back through your own FB feed to find something.)
This lady was so fat that she couldn’t go to jail.  She hadn’t left the bed in two years.  She was basically already under house arrest due to her weight.  Unable to stand or move from the bed, there she stayed.  What could change after she got arrested?  How could her life be any worse?
They couldn’t even figure out how to bring her to trial.  They had to buy a huge mattress that would support 1,000 lbs in the courtroom, once they managed to transport her.
Adult Protective Services had to be called in.  They found Mayra close to death, with pneumonia and pulmonary edema, and it took 10 people and a special ambulance to get her to a hospital for tests.  The doctor assigned to her case said Mayra was retaining 600 pounds of water. 
The court has to pay to move her, and every time she is moved it costs $10,000.  Once she is moved into the courtroom for the trial, she has to literally LIVE there on the new mattress because otherwise it’s two moves per day, one to get her there and one to bring her back to where she is staying.  Cheaper to let her stay there with some kind of caregiver.  It will cost the state of Texas at least a million dollars to bring her to trial if she’s physically present.  And there is no way the jail can house her if she is convicted.
It seems to me that her way of life, and the fact that the APS doctor found her close to death, was her punishment (plus knowing she killed a child—I don’t like children but if I fell on one and killed it with my fat I’d be devastated forever.)
But the story about how the child died is suspicious from the beginning. First she says she fell on him.  (How’d she get back into the bed?)  Then she said he was under the bed and that’s how his head got crushed.  She was alone with the children (other small children of relatives were there too) or her mother was also there and saw the whole thing and maybe her sister, the child’s mother, was also there.
And the autopsy report said the child was beaten about the face and head, not smothered by fat.  The child had lots of healed fractures and a clear history of abuse in his body.   Mayra wasn’t capable of doing that.  She could barely move and an active 2-year old could have easily escaped her grasp.
Her defense lawyers tried to film her doing the things she claimed happened.  “Roll over.  Get out of the bed and show how you were on top of the child on the floor.”  She couldn’t do any of it. To them, that proved that what she claimed happened, didn’t happen.  Seems like she was lying.  And Child Protective Services had been to that house many times who said that Mayra wasn’t capable of caring for children (but they didn’t call APS) and that neighbors said the children had been abused by the parents.
Then they found out that her brother-in-law was threatening to burn her alive in bed if she changed her story (unconfessed?) and she had to be moved to protective custody.  She had gained so much weight since she had been taken to the hospital her wall had to be taken down and she was put into the back of a U-Haul.
That is so terrifying.  To be so fat you don’t even fit in the bariatric ambulance.  To be moved in a UHaul like a piece of furniture.  Even if she did kill the baby, that’s still horrible beyond words.
And finally Mayra admitted that her sister, the child’s mother, had beaten the child with a hairbrush.  She even gave up the brush.   Mayra said she thought her sister would learn from the experience (yes, learn that someone else will take the fall for you!?) but then she found out that her sister was still beating the other children and decided to tell the truth.  (Plus she had been moved and was out of range of her murderous drug-dealing, human-trafficking brother-in-law.)
The lawyers set up a hidden camera kind of thing and to the sister to admit she did it, and then the sister fled because Mayra was going to change her statement.
Dr Nowzaradan (a bariatric surgeon who appears in many of these TLC “half ton” shows) visits Mayra and says her lymphedema is a worse problem than her obesity.  But she can’t go for treatment because she’s still under house arrest for confessing to murder even though she recanted.  She had been gaining and gaining weight, went to up to over 1,000 lbs.
Finally the sister came back to the U.S. (she had been hiding in Mexico) because her husband was prostituting her.  (Nice guy, huh?)  The State charges her with the murder of the child, and Mayra only has to appear in court to testify against her sister and is not longer going to be on trial herself.  The giant mattress problem is solved when the State finally did the smart thing and let her telecommute to the trial.  (That seemed obvious to me but apparently everything sets a precedent and probably soon everyone will want to stay home in bed and telecommute to court.)
Mayra is allowed to travel to be under Dr Nowzardan’s care and ironically the thought is that she would have died if she hadn’t been brought to people’s attention through the trial.


Mayra’s sister Jamie was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing her child.  Mayra has diabetes, congestive heart failure, had horrific lymphedema, and is close to death.  Her skin is broken down and oozing from the pressure of the lymphedema, and some of the sores are infected, as are her bedsores from over 2 years in bed.  Dr. Nowzardan estimates that some of her lymphedema tumors weigh 80 pounds (each).
She says her lymphedema started in her feet and the swelling progressed up through her calves and thighs.
She is put on a strict 1,000 calorie a day diet…and this is astounding…she loses 145 lbs in ten days.   Let me repeat that because it boggles my mind.  SHE LOST ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FIVE POUNDS IN TEN DAYS.  Quite a bit of it is lymphedema fluid.  Then doctors attempt liposuction to remove more of the fluid, even though any procedure is life-threatening at her size.
Liposuction grosses me out so much.  It’s not gentle.  It’s violent and awful and looks like it damages the tissues.  Plus she has excessive bleeding because her blood vessels feeding them are so large and ultimately they stop with the lipo.  She has to lose more weight until she is small enough to have the lymphedema tumors removed surgically.  She is given an experimental medicine and loses another 100 lbs in 30 days, bringing her down to 600 lbs.  Finally she is able to stand up for the first time in five years and then get the surgery to remove some of the larger lymphedema masses.
During the surgery, she is so large that she’s falling off the table.  People had to hold up portions of her body so the doctor could get to other parts to cut them off.  They took off 16 pounds of edema mass from her legs.  Doesn’t seem like much, since the doctor initially said some of her masses were about 80 lbs each but maybe the weight loss reduced them that much.  And then she was able to take a shower (with help) for the first time in over six years.  Although she was seated in her wheelchair and someone else was actually bathing her, it was a shower and not a sponge bath.
She can wheel herself around in an oversized wheelchair and do some upper body exercises with a machine (arm rower) and a bit of lower body work also.  She finally is able to get weight loss surgery, but first she goes home to say hello (and maybe goodbye, if it goes badly) to her family.  During the trip her legs swell and she gains 15 lbs in just a couple of days.
Mayra gets the surgery and loses weight (down to about 350 lbs from 1100 lbs in two years), and goes off to live on her own to prove she can be a fit guardian for her sister’s other children.  She says that when she was fat she ate 6,000-8,000 calories a day…but earlier in the show she said she ate “exactly” what everyone else did and still gained weight.  So everyone in your family eats 8,000 calories a day and only you weighed 1,000 pounds?
She has more skin removed and gets down to 241 lbs and files paperwork to adopt her sister’s children.

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