“My 600 Lb. Life” covers the story of Erica Wall, who says about herself, “How did I get to this point where I am like a sideshow to people?” as she sits in a wheelchair going through an airport. (RECAP of episode posted below) She weighs 661 lbs. and she’s not even sure if she’ll fit in the plane, even though she’s had to buy all three seats in one aisle. In the sneak peek video clip posted below, you get a bird’s-eye view of that ordeal.
This is Erica’s last chance to turn things around, and her desperation made her ignore medical advice that the flight to Houston to see Dr. Nowzaradan could take her life. She’s flying alone because her family reached its breaking point. At the age of 16, she had a stomach stapling procedure, but after five years her growing size blew through the staples.
Regular viewers of “My 600 Lb. Life” know that each patient is told that the surgery is not a magic cure. It doesn’t change cravings and a lifetime of habits. Many patients have suffered childhood trauma of the physical/sexual kind or abandonment. While the early seasons of the show, with episodes in a one-hour format, rarely featured trips to a therapist, it is a regular stop on the recovery train now. Some patients resent it, while others find it helpful.
Erica’s story includes a verbally abusive and critical father who forced her to have the surgery. She also went into a tailspin, putting on the final 200 lbs. after her mother died. Erica’s size prevented her from getting close enough to mom’s hospital bed to bid her a proper goodbye.
Will she be a compliant patient for Dr. Nowzaradan? That’s always the question, and if she took the trip to Texas alone, will he treat her without some support at an apartment nearby? Stay tuned…
After initial refusals to help her, Erica’s sister and brother came through with some assistance at the most crucial times. Her niece Jesse was the only one kind enough not to berate her, but then again, she did enable her by doing her aunt’s grocery shopping. There was a lot of love between the two, without the 40+ years of sibling-hood.
Was it unrealistic to ask either sibling to leave their lives and livelihoods for six months to stay in Houston with her? Yes, these weren’t folks with lots of spare cash and the ability to interrupt a job that would be waiting for them when they return. They had families to support, rent or mortgages to pay, etc.
That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t have been kinder at some point, particularly after the flight to Houston and the check-in at the hotel room. Look, was Erica ornery and whiny? Yes, she was and we don’t have the kind of history with her, watching their sister get to the point where she’d be dead soon without drastic intervention. That makes it difficult to predict our level of tolerance. It’s family stuff and it can get nasty.
To be fair, as well, her siblings were probably in the dark about her teen years and the gang rape, and had no way of understanding how some people can cope, and others can’t. A big moment for Erica was when she admitted her abject fear of the process, including the operation, and what it would take for her to go it alone.
You have to admit that her time in Houston without her siblings was brutal. She had a nursing assistant to help with the most difficult of chores, including providing food, but that loneliness just plays into doubts and old habits. It took Erica months to get to the point where she understood that denial of her favorite things was her only path to health, but she got there.
The damage to her stomach from her procedure and resulting undoing of the stomach stapling was extensive and Dr. Now was lucky enough to be able to get through the scar tissue and the staples left in her body. Think about that for a moment. Difficult to imagine what kind of havoc that created in her body, not even mentioning the pain. Nonetheless, Dr. Now gave her a chance at life and she ultimately took it,
For someone who barely begin to lose anything for months after her initial visit, the fact that Erica was almost 200 lbs. lighter in one year was nothing short of a miracle. Here’s hoping she keeps it up and finds some peace in her lie.
“My 600 Lb. Life” airs new two-hour episodes Wednesday nights beginning at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Image/video credit: TLC, used with permission