By the time 15 firefighters came to get her, Carol Yager hadn’t walked in nine months. She hadn’t left her bedroom in the two months before rescuers rolled her in a tarp, maneuvered her out the front door and slid her down the hill to an ambulance.
When she was admitted to Hurley Medical Center in January, Yager weighed 1,189 pounds, said hospital spokeswoman Beth O’Grady. That’s far more than the heaviest woman listed in the Guinness Book of World Records: Rosie Carnemolla of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., registered a peak of 850 pounds in March, 1988.
Yager, 34, has already lost almost 500 pounds. She was scheduled to be released from the hospital soon.
Before her admission, Yager was totally dependent on nurses and her 14-year-old daughter to take care of her most basic needs.
“I felt nothing mattered,” Yager said in an interview with the Detroit News. “I didn’t care about anything.”
Yager faced many obstacles in getting adequate care, and the main one was that health insurance rarely covers obesity, said Dr. David Schteingart, director of the University of Michigan’s Obesity Rehabilitation Program.
“They pay for people who abuse alcohol. They pay for people who are addicted to drugs. But with obese people, there is an irrational bias,” he said.
Julie Danielson, a nurse who treated Yager, said she made countless calls to nursing homes, hospitals and obesity specialists, all to no avail. “The minute we said she was over 1,000 pounds, they would back off,” she said.
By the second week in January, Yager had developed cellulitis and was running a fever. That meant she had an admitting diagnosis that Medicaid would cover. So on Jan. 14, firefighters helped take Yager to the hospital.
Yager was initially put on a 1,200-calorie diet and given diuretic drugs to reduce the tremendous amount of fluid she was retaining. The first couple of hundred pounds lost was mostly fluid.
In early June, Yager took eight steps. More recently, she walked from her bed into the hallway. Her next goal, she said, is to walk regularly. “Then I want to get back in a house with my daughter and continue to lose weight.”
The house she had been living in was condemned after Yager went to the hospital. The township blamed structural damage and a faulty furnace.
Her social worker has found her a $365-a-month, two-bedroom home that meets Yager’s needs: There are no stairs and no basement.
Yager’s daughter, Heather, has been staying in the hospital with her mother, sleeping in a fold-out bed in the same room.
Yager said she regrets having had to depend on the teen-ager so much.
She said she is determined to continue with her weight-loss program, “Because Heather deserves it. Because I deserve it.”