Life at 335 Pounds
How one woman lost 150 pounds and found her freedom
Nancy Sheppard had never had a weight problem. Growing up, she was one of those girls who ate what she wanted and didn't think twice about stopping for fast food or adding additional bread items to her meals.
As a junior in High School, Nancy was diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Disorder. The medications doctors began prescribing brought Nancy's appetite to an all-time low. Through the rest of her young educational life, meals would be routinely skipped or barely picked at. When Nancy graduated high school in 2001, she weighed about 190. Because of her large and proportionate frame, 190 appeared thin and healthy.
Around this same time, Nancy's doctors finally settled on a medication to treat her ADD and what followed was something Nancy wasn't prepared for; a slow return of her appetite.
This is not a story about Nancy at 190. This is a story about Nancy at 335, and how the Navy's Tricare Standard program, which funded Bariatric Surgery, helped her to become Nancy at 185.
How It Started
After high school, Nancy made her way to college, and like many college freshmen, Nancy gained 15 pounds. However, unlike many of her peers, Nancy didn't gain that weight through a liquid diet. She had settled into a relatively lethargic routine and was no longer skipping any meals. Nancy's weight continued to yo-yo over the next five years while Nancy was trying to "find herself" and the direction she wanted to take in life.
In March 2006, while working in a musical instrument store, a young man came in to look at guitars. He was tall, and handsome, with striking blue-green eyes. For Nancy, it was love at first sight. By August they had moved in together and by June of the following year they were married. But wedded bliss didn't bring with it cooking skills, so the couple relied mostly on fast food. Nancy walked down the aisle at 250 pounds.
Mere weeks after the wedding, Nancy found out she was pregnant. She went off her ADD medication and concentrated on the baby.
"My pregnancy with Emory was a very difficult one," said Nancy. "I was getting sick at least five times a day and often ending up in the ER for dehydration, while also struggling with preeclampsia."
On top of this, Nancy couldn't keep up with the physical demands of working at the music store. She opted instead to go to work with her husband Josh at the travel agency call center.
Then disaster struck again. In December of 2007 Josh was laid off and Nancy was put on temporary leave without pay due to the amount of absences her difficult pregnancy had caused. The couple was forced to give up their apartment as well as their health insurance and move in with Nancy's parents.
The doctors informed the Sheppard's that they suspected their baby was having trouble swallowing, which led Nancy to believe that the baby had inherited Pierre Robin Sequence, a disease she was diagnosed with when she was born.
"It was a very terrifying time," said Nancy. "Josh was able to get another job pretty quickly, but we both made the mutual decision that the best thing for our family would be for Josh to enlist in the Navy."
In February, Emory was born, and it was confirmed their daughter had Pierre Robin Sequence. From that moment on, Nancy wasn't thinking about herself. Her baby spent the first month and a half in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to breathing difficulties and feeding issues. She came home from the hospital, still using a feeding tube and requiring specialized equipment. Their daughter also suffered from colic and acid reflux during her first six months of life. It was clear Nancy would not be able to return to work. Her daughter needed her to be a full time mom. At 272 pounds, Nancy knew her weight wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
By October 2008, things were looking up. Emory had her cleft palate repaired and 10 days later Josh left for the Navy. And two weeks after that, Nancy found out she was pregnant with their second child.
"When Josh completed boot camp, we moved with him to Annapolis, Md., so he could attend "A" school at Fort Meade," said Nancy. "Because of my previous Preeclampsia and Pierre Robin Sequence, I was considered high risk."
Fortunately, this pregnancy wasn't plagued with the same difficulties that haunted Nancy's first pregnancy. There were no signs of Pierre Robin Sequence and she did not have any issues with preeclampsia. Her amazing son, Benjamin, was born in June 2009. The Sheppard's made the decision that their family was complete and Nancy had a bilateral tubal ligation.