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Blair County woman loses 500 pounds in near-death experience

Tyrone, Pa. (WTAJ) — On July 23, 2017, Michelle Rupert’s life changed forever.

After collapsing at Tyrone’s home, paramedics rushed to her rescue. At 721 pounds, Rupert was too big to fit through the front door. Workers had to cut holes in the walls of her house.

“Paramedics arrived. They looked at me, and I was gray,” Rupert recalled. “My face was yellow because my kidneys and liver were failing. My heart was starting to stop because I had sepsis.”

The situation was dire and there was no guarantee that she would survive or make a full recovery.

She explained: “I was told my kidney function might never come back. And I thought, “Okay.” Change has to happen. I have to do something different. ”

While recovering in hospital in 2017, Michelle weighed 721 pounds.

Rupert spent several months in a Shippenville hospital and rehab facility. From there, her life began to change.

“I was an hour away from dying. The look on my mother’s face when the doctors said that in the emergency room…it always weighed on me and it still weighs on me,” she said.

At the hospital, Rupert said he was put on a low-carb, low-calorie, low-sodium diet. She explained: “I always say, it wasn’t a diet. It had to be a life change. And now I don’t think it’s a diet. I have.”

She’s still on this diet, finding low-carb alternatives like pizza and lasagna to keep her on track.

As for exercise, I was able to move gradually. Rupert said that when she was at her heaviest, she didn’t leave the house and she was bedridden.

Dr. Darcy Duke is Vice President of Surgery and Director of Bariatric Surgery Services at Conemaugh Health. She explained what it’s like to be a burden-bearer like Rupert. “Medically, a patient with that much weight is basically in their own prison,” she elaborated.

“Once you’re over 700 pounds, you can’t ask someone to exercise to lose weight,” she said. “They put so much strain on their joints that they can’t exercise enough to burn calories to lose weight. So it’s mostly diet related at this point. ”

Rupert literally started one step at a time.

“For so long after coming out of rehab, I could only do one step at a time,” she explained.

Eventually, she was able to exercise more and started by “doing Wii Fit” before being able to use the treadmill.

“Winter was basically on the treadmill. I’d put on headphones for 45 minutes to an hour and watch a show I recorded on my phone or watch a movie.”

Rupert said he had no surgery and took no weight loss medication. However, Dr. Duke explains that surgery is an option that can help.

In one type of surgery, called a “sleeve gastrectomy,” a doctor removes part of the stomach.

“We make the stomach small and thin and shaped like a banana. Then we remove the rest of it. And that allows the patient to eat less and lose weight. There’s a hormonal aspect to it, and it works,” Dr. Duke said.

There is also an ancient procedure called gastric bypass surgery.

Dr. Duke explained: “We don’t actually remove part of the stomach. We just make a smaller part of the stomach and attach it to another part of the intestine to change the way food is absorbed.”

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Dr. Duke also mentioned a drug called semaglutide. She explained that the drug “has a limit to how much excess weight it can reduce.”

“While this is the best we have ever put on the market, there is still a limit to how much weight you can expect to lose with the drug,” she said.

After six years of hard work, Rupert has a whole new life. He now weighs 168 pounds, 553 pounds less than when he collapsed in 2017.

“I feel great,” she exclaimed. “I think it’s really cool to be able to do something…. I hadn’t driven in 25 years because I was too big to get behind the wheel safely.”

Rupert is now sharing her story in the hope that it will inspire others like her to change. She said, “I hope other heavy people look at me and think, ‘Well, she could do it.'” I can do it. ”

Rupert continues his journey, one step at a time, as he did in the beginning.

https://www.wtaj.com/news/local-news/blair-county-womans-near-death-experience-sparks-500-pound-weight-loss/ Blair County woman loses 500 pounds in near-death experience

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