Last night’s special episode of “My 600-Lb. Life” was titled “Fan Favorites: Laura’s Story.” This series explores a year in the life of 600-pound individuals trying to regain control of their lives. Laura Perez is one of them; at 41, she weighs 594 pounds, is on oxygen and lives in San Antonio, Texas. She always struggled with her weight and feels trapped in her body because she is unable to do anything for herself. Her common-law husband Joey has been helping her, but it is becoming more difficult for him. Carmen, her mother washes her hair in the shower and bathes her as best she can. Between the folds of her skin are ulcerated sores that must be addressed. Some days she wishes to die so she does not have to be beholden to her family. She started to gain weight at ten, after an older cousin molested her. She never told her parents, and it went on for years.
When she went to school, the children made fun of her and told her she was going to break the desk, but it was her heart that was breaking. In high school, she was over 300 pounds. She met Joey when she was 27, and he always liked heavy-set girls. He knows he is enabling her, but he loves her, and she cannot help herself. She gets out about once a month and when people stare, she is embarrassed. At the bakery department in the supermarket, Joey gets her and her niece all the sweets they want. Her big family loves to eat, and she knows she needs help or there is no future for her but she just cannot stop eating.
At month one, she is traveling to Houston to meet with Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, a kindhearted doctor who pulls no punches with his 600 pound plus patients. They must be willing to follow his rules, or he cannot, in good conscience, clear them for surgery. She gets on the scale, and her weight is 594. Dr. Nowzaradan is questioning her eating habits and how she gets the sweets she craves. Laura is in the worst shape he has seen and knows she is at her body’s limit. She must lose 50 pounds in the next few months to prove she is worthy of the surgery. Her niece wrote a letter to Dr. Nowzaradan to help her aunt who she calls mommy.
At month two, she is doing some exercising. Joey is very supportive, and he brings her the good stuff now and no more junk. No other doctor has given her this much hope. At month three, back in Houston, she weighs in at 538 with a loss of 56 pounds. Dr. Nowzaradan approved her for surgery, and she is elated. Two weeks later, on the night before surgery, Laura is fearful she will not wake up from the surgery. However, despite her fears, her family has convinced her to have the surgery. Dr. Now sees that because of Laura’s very large liver and spleen, it is impossible to do the surgery the doctor intended. He opted for a sleeve gastrectomy instead of removing most of the stomach. This surgery will help, but not as much as the full bypass.
At month four, her current weight is 529, a loss of 65 pounds. Three days after the surgery, she was discharged from the hospital. Now at home, she revealed that she was disappointed about the surgery, but she is still trying to move more and is not carefully watching her diet. She has been throwing up a lot because she is eating more than her stomach will allow. At month five, she has been rushed to the hospital and admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in Houston so Dr. Nowzaradan could take care of her. She is on a ventilator because she cannot breathe on her own. Her family told him that she passed out, and they told Dr. Nowzaradan that she had been throwing up, but she did not let him know. She has pneumonia and is close to death.
At month six, she is fully recovered. She went to church to pray for strength to continue the battle. At month seven at 521 pounds and down 73 pounds, she went to see Molly McCann, a therapist. She told the therapist about the molestation. Molly told her, that unless she forgives, that person will still have power over her. Molly made her feel much better, and she realized that she was given a last chance.
At month eight, she returned to seeing Dr. Now to check her progress. She weighs 520 with a loss of 74 pounds, he was unhappy with her lack of weight loss. If she continues at the pace she is at, she will start to gain, and the surgery will be pointless. She must find a way to deal with her emotions without using food. At month nine, her weight is 508 and her loss is 86 pounds. She had some bitterness towards her mother she was unable to let go of. She now wants to let go of that resentment and the blame she put on her for what happened. The two of them met at a restaurant and Laura, and her mother had a really heart-to-heart talk. She now was able to let it go, and her mother told her how proud she was of her. She loves her mother so much and now the weight has been lifted from her shoulders. At month ten, current weight 471, she lost 123 pounds. She now starts doing more for herself and is cooking dinner for the family. Joey is proud of her for breaking her addiction to food.
At month twelve, she saw Dr. Nowzaradan and weighed in at 357 with a loss of 237 pounds. Her wheelchair is no longer needed nor is the oxygen. She even went shopping and found clothes that flattered her new body. She and Joey took her nieces and nephew to a ceramic studio, and they had a great time. This was the first time they could do something with the kids outside of the home on this episode of “My 600-Lb. Life.” Laura, may you and Joey and your entire family have a long and happy life, free from the hardship of the past.