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Jun27FriTerrie Banks needed to conquer her obesity, but she couldn't do it alone. June 27, 2014 by Jayne Thurber-Smith
At the age of 30, Terrie Banks thought her life was over. Morbidly obese, she was bedridden and could only manage to get to the bathroom with her husband Kyle's assistance.
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- Faith & Friends
“On January 13, 2012, I couldn't get up from the bed—even with Kyle,” she remembers. “That's when we knew I needed help. I called the ambulance. After they arrived and got me up, I insisted I wasn't able to live at home anymore and needed to be in the hospital. They had to call the fire and police departments. They put me on a tarp and pulled me out of the house. I'm five-foot-four and weighed 695 pounds at the time, so it was a good thing that they were even able to get me out the front door!”
Terrie pauses. Some things are not easily forgotten.
“It was such an emotional experience,” she sighs. “It was the worst day of my life but also the best day of my life. That was my turning point.”
Terrie would spend the next 3½ months in the hospital.
“When I first arrived, they said I had two weeks to live,” she recalls. “At that point, I just wanted to die. I didn't have any reason to live. I was just existing.”
Some of Terrie's weight was fluid buildup because her kidneys weren't functioning. With proper attention, along with thyroid and anti-depressant medication, she lost 300 pounds while in the hospital.
“I felt as if I had literally melted in the hospital,” she laughs. “Getting my kidneys to work helped a lot, plus I was on a special cardiac diet because the doctors feared I might have a heart attack.”
When Terrie was bedridden at home, she relied on Kyle for her food and therefore had been eating two big meals—one before he went to work and the other when he returned home.
“In the hospital, I learned to eat smaller portions several times a day,” she explains. “Last July, I had gastric-bypass surgery so I can only eat a cup and a half of food at a time: protein powder mixed with milk, cheese, yogurt, chicken or turkey.”
“You Can't Give Up”
As the hospital attended to Terrie's physical needs, The Salvation Army stepped in to deal with her spiritual and emotional ones.
“I had been attending The Salvation Army church in Estevan, Sask., for a few years before my hospitalization,” she says. “Captains Jamie and Shelly Rands and the rest of the congregation had greeted Kyle and me with open arms. We felt at home and welcome there. However, as a result of a company transfer, we ended up too far away to keep attending. Thankfully, a nearby Salvation Army pastor, Major Ros Millar, came out to visit the house once a week.”
Major Ros didn't give up on Terrie even though Terrie had given up on herself.
“While I had been at home waiting for the ambulance, I prayed, 'God, come take me,' ” she remembers. “But God said, 'I have a new path for you to take and it starts here.' And He sent Ros to me. When I was in the hospital, she came to visit twice a week. She prayed for me, e-mailed me and stuck with me.”
“You have your whole life ahead of you. You can't give up,” Major Ros told her.
“She wasn't my health or diet supporter, she was my spiritual supporter, and that was so important to my survival,” says Terrie.
Terrie will be on thyroid medication for the rest of her life but she doesn't need anti-depressants any longer. She is thoroughly enjoying being mobile again. She can take her dog for walks, and she exercises to workout videos with friends.
“I've also come to terms with what went wrong with me emotionally,” she says. “In my 20s, I suffered five miscarriages that were hard on me in every way, the least of which was physically. The doctors are optimistic, now that my weight is under control, that we can have children. At my weigh-in at the end of February, I was down to 325 pounds!
“It's been a roller-coaster journey. So many great things have happened since I started my weight loss. But if Major Ros hadn't stuck by me at that time, I don't think I'd be here.”
Wanting to give back some of the hope given to her, this past winter Terrie served as the director of hospitality for the Warm Welcome Shelter program in Estevan. Working with St. Paul's United Church and The Salvation Army, she helped provide safe, warm beds for the homeless during dangerously cold temperatures.
“My volunteers and I got so much more out of the program than we could possibly put in,” she says. “We gave people who were in need clean bedding and a bowl of hot soup, and we visited with them. It was very humbling. I worked 12-hour shifts, doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work: scheduling, groceries, whatever else was needed. It was good to keep moving.”
Terrie is determined to continue her active lifestyle and get her weight down to at least 250 pounds. The Saskatchewan Health Authority has agreed to do surgery this summer to help remove her excess skin, which they estimate on its own could weigh at least 50 pounds.
“My surgery and healing—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—have been absolutely amazing,” Terrie says. “God blessed me with a wonderful team.”