Skip to comments.Oregon woman thankful after losing 800 pounds
Posted on 04/18/2002 11:17:36 AM PDT by Tumbleweed_Connection
Most people use a footstool to prop up their feet. Jeannette Standard used one to prop up her drooping belly.
But no longer.
Two years ago, surgeons at Oregon Health Sciences University removed the 110 pounds of lap that hung down to Standard's shins.
"I had to lift it to clean under it. And I would have to lay on the bed and have my daughter dry me off. But the skin was breaking down anyway. It had cracks that were open and bleeding. And the smell was atrocious," Standard said.
The surgery cost somewhere between $50,000 to $100,000, Standard said. Because weight-related health problems landed her on the state's disability roster, the state paid for the surgery. But getting state support took lobbying by Standard's doctor, Kent Walker of Pendleton.
"I wrote letters for a year on her behalf," Walker said. "Jeannette was bedridden because of that apron. Imagine trying to get around with a 110-pound belly pack. That's an amazing amount of weight."
Fat aprons are common in people who have lost extensive amounts of weight, he said.
"A person has to lose 200 to 300 pounds to get that kind of excess formation," Walker said.
It took a decade to do it, but Jeannette lost between 800 and 850 pounds through healthy eating combined with a liquid diet. At her heaviest, Standard said she weighed nearly 1,200 pounds.
Walker said he charted her weight in 1997 at 600 pounds. Today, she's 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 435 pounds.
"I have more mobility," she said. "I can go to Wal-Mart and buy clothes off the rack. And I can go out with pride without worrying about people saying, 'Look at that fat person.' And I don't have to wear those tent dresses anymore!"
Wearing pants is a newfound delight.
"The first day I put on a pair of pants after surgery I called my daughter and said, 'You want to see something you've never seen in your entire life?' "
Her daughter, Merri Beth Standard, 35, lives in Centralia. But at that time she was living in the same apartment complex as her mother in Pendleton. And this past week she visited her mom.
"She was striking a pose like she was on the cover of Vogue or something," Merri Beth said of her mom's new look. "All my life all I'd ever seen her in were those big dresses. It was incredible."
Living with a mother who was so obese was difficult, Merri Beth said. Classmates made cruel comments.
"In middle school while preparing for a choir concert, two boys said to me, 'I hope your mom doesn't come tonight because she'll break the bleachers if she sits on them,' " Merri Beth recalled.
She'd try to ignore other kids when they'd ask, "Why is your mom so fat?" But when she had her own children, Merri Beth said she pleaded with her mother to lose weight.
"I worried my mom wouldn't be around to see her grandkids grow up, because of her obesity and her heart," she said.
Guilt proved a poor motivator for Jeannette, a self-described food addict.
She hadn't always been overweight.
"I was a skinny kid until about age 8," she said.
But by the time she entered high school, Jeannette weighed 180 pounds. When she graduated she was up to 250 pounds. A sour marriage coupled with a bout of alcoholism, and 23 years later, Jeannette was so heavy she couldn't walk to the mailbox at the end of her street.
"When I wasn't drinking, I was eating. I was constantly shoving something in my face," Jeannette said.
So what does a 1,200-pound person eat?
"Anything and everything I could get my hands on," Jeannette said. "I would eat until I was so full I was sick. Then an hour later, I would be stuffing my face again."
Bread was a particular weakness.
"I would eat a loaf a day," Jeannette said.
And, "She would eat two whole chickens a meal," Walker said.
Now Jeannette limits her daily diet to two slices of bread, lean meats and vegetables. And she sees a counselor to help deal with her addictive behaviors.
"It isn't just about what you're eating, it's about what's eating you," Jeannette said. "I stuffed all my issues inside."
Depression is common among the morbidly obese, Walker said.
"Food makes them feel good," he said.
Momentarily, at least.
Jeannette said her most humiliating moment occurred when a neighbor refused to give her a ride to the store.
"She told me, 'I'm afraid you'll break my car down.' After that I never asked another person to take me any place again."
Jeannette said she became homebound and refused to answer the door or telephone. Her only social contact was with her two daughters.
And it is her example that bothers Jeannette the most. Merri Beth isn't obese, but Jeannette's other daughter Mandy, 32, weighs more than 500 pounds, she said. And she fears her grandson who is 9 and already weighs 105 pounds may share the same struggle.
So Jeannette supports the decision of school districts in other states to send out letters urging parents to address their children's weight problems. She wishes she'd had such help as a child.
"Mothers, if you have a child who is starting to gain weight or has already done so, get someone to help them," she said. "Feed them healthy snacks. And if you're an overweight mother with school-age kids, get some help."
Don't reward kids with warm cookies and milk.
"Give them a night out just with just you," Jeannette suggested.
"Take them roller skating or for a family bike ride," Merri Beth interjected.
Or take them to the nearest karaoke club. That's where Jeannette goes when she needs a treat.
Of course, just getting out of bed every morning and slipping into one of the eight pairs of pants she owns is reason enough to be happy. But Jeannette also has a part-time job with Domestic Violence Services and hopes to move into a new home soon.
"I look at life every day as a gift from God," she said. "For all intense purposes, I should've died 14 years ago as heavy as I was. I'm lucky to be alive."
I didn't know 5'2 435 wasn't considered fat.
I....am going....to vomit.
I just can't help but notice the timing of the story - there seems to be a growing effort to regulate the food industry, to attack it with lawsuits, and to attach sin taxes to fatty foods.
Now here come the food victims.
lyrics by Allan Sherman
music by Louis F. Bush (parody of "Glow Worm" by Paul Lincke)
Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb, fatter, fatter
Pile the potatoes on your platter.
Listen to me 'cause I'm your hubby.
I just adore you plump and chubby.
I got a letter from the state, Dear.
You're gonna need a license plate, Dear.
My little elephant joke come true.
Chew, Mrs. Goldfarb, chew!
There is so much more of you,
More to adore of you,
'Cause you're not slender.
In your white dress, you're a doll,
Big as the Taj Mahal,
In all its splendor.
When you're in department stores,
Don't use revolving doors,
You might get stuck, Dear.
When you use the telephone,
Go in the booth alone,
And lots of luck, Dear.
You had for breakfast: two pounds bacon,
Three dozen eggs, one coffee cake, and
Then you had something really awful,
Four kippered herrings on a waffle.
Nine English muffins, one baked apple,
Boston cream pie, Philadelphia scrapple.
Seventeen bowls of Crispy Crunch.
Then you said, "What's for lunch?"
Sweetheart, you are giant size.
You are Lane Bryant size,
My darling Myrtle.
Last Thanksgiving I was thrilled.
You ate so much, you killed
Your living girdle.
Have another dozen shrimp,
My lovely little blimp.
Don't count a calorie.
I have just received a stub.
I owe the Diner's Club
A whole year's salary.
Eat, Mrs. Goldfarb, daily, nightly.
Eat, though your chair is bending slightly.
Love of my life, I'm glad I found you,
Each day I take a walk around you.
I can't forget when we got married.
Over the threshold I got carried.
No other bride would be so sweet.
Eat, Mrs. Goldfarb, eat!
Copyright 1964 by Curtain Call Productions, Inc.
Considering that's a third of what she used to weigh, I think that's great.
I don't think that any of us can understand what that woman went through. I constantly complain that I can't get off the "baby fat" I accumulated through three pregnancies, but thinking about it, I'm only 20 pounds more than I was when I got married, and I wasn't overweight then -- and had three babies since!
I think we shouldn't be making jokes about this poor woman and her family. I think this is a lesson to parents: when kids start gaining excess weight, it's time to do something -- not just healthy snacks and exercize, but maybe find out WHY your child is getting obese.
It makes me thankful that I only have to complain about going from a size 10 to a size 12 after three kids!
Funny, my question would be "How did your mom get so fat?" That's something I never understood. How is it physically possible for a human to weigh 1200 lbs?
Co-dependence-- find someone who'll help you.
That is considered LESS fat than 1,200 lbs.
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