Last night’s season premiere episode of “My 600-Lb. Life” gave viewers a glimpse into the life of a morbidly obese woman. This series explores a year in the life of 600-pound individuals trying to regain control of their lives. Nikki is one of them; at 33, she weighs 636 pounds, and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
When she awakens, the pain she feels is overwhelming. She has difficulty moving her body. Her biggest problem is her stomach that hangs down to her knees. She barely fits in her shower, and it is a job just to wash her huge body. She lives with her parents, and her father will send up something for her to eat. Today it is three donuts and a glass of iced tea. Now she does not have to go downstairs until breakfast. Her mother, Llewellyn refuses to speak to her about her food addiction as she has done in the past, so she just makes her what she wants. Nikki knows that she is the cause of her situation, but she feels good eating alone because there is no one there to judge her. Her father, Terry knows that Nikki has been working her parents since she was very young. They wait on her like she was an invalid. They wish they knew the difference between helping her and enabling her.
Nikki started gaining weight since she was about four. By the time she was ten, she weighed 120 pounds and realized she was not like everyone else and did not fit in. Her parents attempted to help her with her weight, but it made her sad. Terry stated that she, and her mother had a stormy relationship. Her two sisters married and had children, and she felt invisible. This invisibility allowed her to go into the kitchen and eat. When she graduated from high school, she weighed almost 300 pounds. By the time she left college, she weighed 500 pounds. The last time she was weighed, she topped the scale at 636.
After college, she moved back home with her mom, dad and brother Chris. It is too difficult to live alone. Chris has cerebral palsy and for many reasons, her limitations far exceed his. Although she can barely get around, she still tries to work. She is an assistant costume designer at a theater, but her limitations are abundant and things she should be doing, are left to others because she cannot even stand to measure someone. When she arrives, she must enter through the loading dock, and someone moves her car for her.
At month one, she found the compassionate and wonderful Dr. Nowzaradan who specializes in weight-loss surgery for patients her size. Her father drove the eight-hour trip to Houston with her, and she weighed in at 649 pounds. Dr. Now gave her a diet containing no carbs; no sugar and no fruit, and expected her to be back next month weighing fifty pounds less.
At month two, she weighted 587, for a loss of 63 pounds. Dr. Now was happy that she followed the program and ran some tests to see if her body could handle the surgery. The tests concluded that she had pulmonary hypertension, meaning that her weight was not letting enough oxygen to her heart and lungs. So she must lose more weight before surgery could be an option. She felt completely hopeless. She knew that she did it once, and could run out of time if she did not do it.
At month four, she felt that she could no more and gave her incentive to keep going. The box she kept her hidden stash has been replaced with things to do rather than things to eat.
At month five, she weighed 538 and did not have high expectations. Dr. Now was pleased with her progress, and the tests showed that her heart was strong enough for the surgery.
At month six, Nikki has checked in the hospital to have weight-loss surgery. Her whole family was there as she was about to be wheeled into the operating room. Dr. Nowzaradan was prepared to reduce her stomach from the size of a football to the size of a small orange and bypass the intestines, but the bowel was too far away from the stomach. As an alternative treatment, Dr. Now did a sleeve gastrectomy on her, where the stomach looked more like a sleeve than a big ball.
At month seven, her current weight was 528. Total loss was 122 and weight loss since surgery was eight pounds. After recovering from surgery in Houston for six weeks, Nikki and her father returned to Little Rock. She was a bit fearful of returning to the place where all of her temptations existed. She said that her cravings were coming back. She is aware that Thanksgiving will be arriving soon, and the house will be filled with food. She also knows that her sister Courtney will be there. Courtney broke off their relationship because she was afraid that her children would be affected by Nikki’s weight.
At month eight, current weight 524, total weight loss 126 pounds and weight loss since surgery 12 pounds. She realized that she needed help, especially confronting her sister, and went to see therapist Lee Ellis. Lee wanted to get to the emotional issues that caused the weight gain in the first place. Lee told her that 88 percent of the reason weight was gained back is because of the emotional baggage that is carried around. She must believe she is strong enough to let go and decided to stop believing she would let people down. Part of her baggage is letting go of the pain she has with her sister and her mother.
At month nine, current weight 519, total weight loss 131 pounds and weight since surgery are 17 pounds. As Thanksgiving has gotten closer and closer, she has gotten more nervous about seeing her sister and talking with her. At the Thanksgiving table, she was focused on not eating anything she was not supposed to. She would like to talk to Courtney about when she distanced herself from Nikki. So she asked her if she could show her some of her new makeup. The sisters talked with tears in their eyes. Courtney told her that she was afraid to watch her kill herself and fearful that she would not see her again. Nikki apologized and said she was sorry that she did not realize what she was doing to her. They hugged and told each other I love you.
At month ten, current weight 501, total weight loss 149 pounds and weight loss since surgery are 35 pounds. Another of her goals is to take care of her wheelchair-bound brother more. Her parents not only had to take care of him, but her too. They took a walk together, and she wants to be down 200 pounds by the one-year mark.
At month eleven, current weight 484, total weight loss 166 pounds and weight since surgery is 52 pounds. Tonight she is hanging out with friends and going to see an improv show. Comedians even called her up to the stage to assist them, she had a blast and being with friends was a long time coming.
At month twelve, she and her mother visited Dr. Nowzaradan again, and she could not wait to get on the scale. Her weight was 443 for a total loss of 207 pounds. He was very pleased and will see her in three months. She finally got to talk to her mother and explain how she never felt good enough. Her mother apologized to her for ever making her feel this way and had no idea. She told her how much she loved her and how proud she was of her beautiful daughter. Congratulations, Nikki, on your journey and continued progress on this episode of “My 600-Lb. Life.”