James, a Texas man who reached 750 lbs. was the subject of an uplifting story on the latest MY 600-LB LIFE on TLC.
It was a different type of tale than other folks featured on the show. Although he resided with his mother, James did not hide from life, maintaining a job as an accountant. He also had a goal to do more, having purchased a very expensive tractor to help establish a side business of selling and baling hay. It just sat there because he was too large to sit in the enclosed cab.
James also had a best friend, Lorica who as he said, “…brightens my day. When I’m around her I don’t feel like weight is an issue.” While there was no obvious romance in the air, you could see true caring. “I like James. I care about him and just want him to get well. I know he’s miserable. I just want him to be happy.”
We learned that James, who wanted to live a life with love in it, including his own home with a wife and family had been cruising online dating sites and he found Summer, who would come into the picture more as his journey continued.
James lived through the recent deaths of his sister, to whom he was extremely close and his father. Complications from morbid obesity were the stated causes.
While his dad weighed more than 500 lbs. prior to his death, he lived until he was 65. When James and his mother had their first meeting with surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan he was told that not only wouldn’t he make it that far, but that he could easily pass away within a year if things didn’t change and change drastically.
His mother said, “I’ve lost so many in the family, I’m not ready to lose another.” She watched as James slept in the same hospital bed as both her husband and daughter and the image haunted her. “Will he be next?” she wondered and cried about.
There was a distinct lack of blame in the air from James to his mother, except for him criticizing how she cooked. But, James hadn’t eaten much of her home cooking in the recent past, admitting that he’d stop for bags of convenience food on the way home from work.
As if that weren’t enough for his elderly mother to bear, a story when he fell in the bathroom demonstrated her helplessness and sadness:
“I was wedged between the wall and the door. The fire department had to come in and bust through the wall. I was screaming ’cause the pain was so bad,” James said. His mother was horrified as he screamed for help. “Actually he was 700 lbs. at the time. I couldn’t pick him up. He told me to shoot him. He says, ‘I’m no good anyway.’ “
Dr. Nowzaradan dispensed the same advice to James as others. Go home and lose weight on your own prior to the surgery being an option. James was motivated and ready to lose and he did. It was after the surgery that things got a bit dicey.
Lorica never showed up at the hospital to see him and it hurt him deeply. After a month of a strict post-surgery diet, he began craving his old favorites. He thought he knew how much he could tolerate but he was mistaken. Weight loss slowed and it looked like this would be a sad tale of defeat.
That’s where Summer came into play.
She was uniquely positioned to understand and even provide advice as well as assistance. Summer had reached 350 lbs. before she underwent successful gastric bypass surgery. Love blossomed between the two. As that continued, James and his mother finally got in the swing of how he needed to eat. He began to help with household chores, making his mother happy and hopeful her son would escape the fate of his sister.
James and Summer went out on dates. At one point they were cutting a rug on the dance floor at some establishment, but that was only after he struggled in his recovery.
At one point he was rushed to the hospital with extreme abdominal pain and Dr. Nowzaradan removed flaps of skin from his abdomen, which he called an “apron”, that tugged at his internal organs causing the pain. When it was all removed the doctor weighed the massive piece of flesh and it tipped the scales at almost 75 lbs. It had been hanging to his knees, prohibiting movement and once that impediment was removed, James was off and running.
Well, not exactly running, but he joined a gym and found water aerobics something he enjoyed and didn’t hurt to participate in. James, with some help from a portable staircase reached the cab of his tractor, got in and closed the door. It was a sign that he was on his way to the life he craved.
We left James as he went house hunting and planned to make his life with Summer. By the end of the 12-month period when cameras followed his progress he lost half his body weight. When he saw the scale register 376 lbs. he as well as Dr. Nowzaradan were happy as clams.
James’ story was the feel-good one fans of MY 600-LB LIFE had longed for. It wasn’t hard to root for him and he used his opportunity for surgery to reach goals he could only see from afar. Just a great demonstration of will and effort combining for success.
TLC will air the season finale next week, Tuesday February 25 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Image and video credit: TLC