An obese mum was forced to lose over 140 kilograms in less than three years after being diagnosed with a rare brain disorder that required surgery.
Stay at home mum Evelyn Morales LaGrange, 36, from the US state of Texas, was overweight throughout her childhood, but really started to gain weight rapidly after the birth of her daughter Rebecca in 2007.
In 2009, Evelyn was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the hormones which regulate metabolism. As a result, Evelyn found it impossible to avoid piling on weight. At her heaviest she weighed more than 225 kgs.
Her immense weight led to a myriad of health issues including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression and anxiety. At her heaviest, Evelyn was only able to take a few steps before having to rest and sit down due to breathlessness and pain in her joints.
When in public, cruel strangers called her a cow and asked if she could see her own feet. Children would stare or laugh and she even caught numerous people taking pictures of her when they thought she wasn’t looking.
“I never once thought about paying attention to what I was eating or drinking," she said.
“I was a single mum so life got away from me as I worked and went to school.
“I would get home and was too tired to worry about taking care of myself and would eat junk food, which led to me gaining a lot of weight.
Evelyn’s weight also affected her love life. “I went on a date where we ended up hooking up and in the middle of sex he tells me ‘you know this would be a lot easier if you were smaller,'" she recalled.
“I did feel crushed for that night but I got right back up and dusted myself down."
Then a shock diagnosis finally put her on a different path.
Woman's brain 'too big for skull'
In February 2017, Evelyn was at home with her daughter and stepson Austin, 14, when she suddenly felt a sudden pain in the back of her head. Losing her vision and control of her bowels, Rebecca called for an ambulance and Evelyn was rushed to hospital where she was joined by her husband Dennis.
After a week of tests, Evelyn was finally diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a condition in which brain tissue extends into a sufferer’s spinal canal, due to the brain being too big for the skull.
Despite never having any symptoms of the condition prior to this event, Evelyn now has poor vision and suffers from migraines and chronic pain every day. She even has to sleep with a CPAP machine in order to help her breathe.
Following her diagnosis, doctors told Evelyn that brain decompression surgery, where a bone at the back of the skull is removed to create more space for the brain would help alleviate her symptoms.
Yet, with her weighing more than 220 kilos, the surgery was considered too risky and doctors told her that she would have to lose more than 130 kgs in order for the surgery to go ahead.
Woman loses 146 kilos post operation
On June 22, 2018, after a six month approval process, Evelyn underwent a gastric sleeve duodenal switch operation, in which the size of Evelyn’s stomach was reduced by 70 per cent.
In the 30 months since her operation, Evelyn has lost nearly 150 kgs and now weighs around 80 kgs.
Her life has changed completely since her weight loss. She is now able to go shopping with her daughter without feeling exhausted and now loves to dance and walk her dogs in the park – activities that simply were not possible before.
“I never wanted to leave my house before because I knew I would soon have to sit down somewhere, but now I am ready to get up and go.
“My daughter and I now enjoy going to the mall and can spend hours just walking around.
“I am still waiting to get my brain decompression surgery but other health issues have gotten in the way, such as having to have a pacemaker fitted as my heart rate was dropping too low.
“I will be meeting with my brain specialist very soon with the hope that I will be able to have my brain decompression surgery soon.
“Regardless, losing weight has changed my life for the better, even if the circumstances surrounding my drive to lose weight aren’t ideal.”
Evelyn is quick to warn that weight loss surgery is not a magic pill that will prevent you from never putting the weight back on and admits that she has had to work hard in order to maintain her new frame.
“One thing my doctor stressed to me was that having this surgery was not a ‘magic pill’ that will never allow me to gain weight ever again,” she said.
“I've had to learn how to eat healthy, make healthier choices and change my relationship with food."
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