Last night's episode of “My 600-Lb. Life” gave viewers another glimpse into the life of a beautiful, but morbidly obese woman. This series explores a year in the life of 600-pound individuals trying to regain control of their lives. Olivia is one of them. Along with the scenes from the original presentation are facts and never-viewed scenes from her journey.
As the episode begins 46-year-old Olivia Cruz begins her story, as she tells how she started putting on weight in elementary school. She stated that much of it was due to bullying and molestation at eight years of age; a secret she kept until she was forty. (Research shows that social isolation kills more people than obesity.) When her twin sister, Olga found out, she was devastated, but by then her weight was out of control. She admitted that putting on weight was how she avoided people. Despite Olivia’s isolation, she has never lived alone, but has been in and out of the hospital several times and needs oxygen 24/7 for eleven years. She has suffered from depression, but lack of Vitamin D from not being outside probably worsened her depression along with the fact that her ex-fiance had a child with another woman.
Seven years ago, she went for weight-loss surgery and weighed 578-pounds. She stated that the weight-loss surgery did not work, and she gave up on herself. She lives in the basement of her mother’s house because all that she needs is on one floor. She has severe lymphedema in her legs, and her stomach is so overgrown that it is impossible for her to lift it. She even admitted to attempting suicide. Food is her only comfort, and she knows if any is there, she will eat it.
Olivia found Dr. Nowzaradan in Houston, and she is leaving the house in Chicago for the first time in two years to travel there to see him, a total of 1,084 miles. Her brother, who lives in Houston agreed to let her live with him. When she arrived, her body was wracked with pain from the long drive, on the way she went to a gas station, the first time in a public place in fifteen years.
The next day, she weighed in at 580-pounds. Dr. Nowzaradan is putting her in the hospital for a few days to put her through the test to see if this is going to work for her. She has had two surgeries in the past that did not work. However, after two days of observation, tests and a 1000 calorie bariatric diet, the doctors believe she is ready and in need of immediate weight-loss surgery. The 1,000 calorie bariatric diet requires sixty-five to seventy-five grams of protein a day.
She was prepped for surgery, and they removed the previous ineffective lap-band. They removed a long piece of her stomach. When she woke up, she was in severe pain, but Olga was right there for her. Two days after the surgery, she had no cravings and the smells of food upset her stomach. After surgery, if Olivia eats solid foods, the staples in her intestines could burst, and she could die. They had her up and walking soon after to surgery to decrease the risk of blood clots and lung problems. Prolonged bed rest also increases the risk for skin breakdown.
After four months, she remained in the hospital due to her medical condition, as the doctors feared she would not be healthy enough to leave. Finally, she could leave, after losing 226 pounds in the controlled environment of the hospital and no longer required oxygen. Fatty tissue in the body needs oxygen in order to live. With enough loss of fat, many obese individuals can stop using tanks of oxygen.
After five months, she could start feeling her bones, and even her shadow was so much smaller. At her six-month check up, she weighed just short of 355-pounds. Dr. Nowzaradan was unhappy with her lack of weight loss over a month, and insisted that she cut her caloric intake. He cannot do the surgery to remove the large hanging stomach skin until she is under 300-pounds. A month later, as she was looking through the kitchen, she found a lot of foods that she used to love, but had to refrain from cheating. Her first trip to a supermarket with her brother and his family were amazing to her. As she was wheeled around the store, she seemed more like she was in Disneyland than just a supermarket, but things have changed quite a bit since her last trip to one 15 years ago, and although she could not eat the things she used to, she wanted to go through every aisle.
On her next visit to Dr. Nowzaradan, she weighed 292-pounds, and he was very proud. The surgery was scheduled to remove the massive stomach skin finally arrived. They had to tie off over five hundred blood vessels, but once removed; the skin mass weighed 40.4-pounds. After this surgery, she should be under 250. When she woke up, she was in severe pain and said that her belly-button hurt. After a few days, she could leave the hospital.
In less than a year, she got her driver’s license back and regained her independence. She and Olga went shopping for clothes. On her next visit to the doctor, she weighed 256. One month later, she weighed 241 and had lost 339-pounds.
When she attended a family reunion, most of her family had not seen her in years and were thrilled at how gorgeous and thin she was. One dream was to pay her respects to her beloved grandmother, as she made it to the cemetery, her tears of sadness and joy at her accomplishment shone through, knowing that her grandmother would be so proud of her accomplishment. Congratulations, Olivia, you are awesome!
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