For many years Ricky Naputi, who at his heaviest tipped the scales at more than 400 kilograms (900 pounds), battled with his food addiction, and at the time of his death hadn’t walked on his own for more than 7 years.
His wife Cheryl described looking after him as ‘just like taking care of an overgrown baby’, and Ricky fell in and out of a deep depression over the state his life was in.
The couple live on the island of Guam, just a four hour flight from Brisbane – where 6 out of 10 people are classified as either overweight or obese.
Cheryl was Ricky’s primary caretaker, and said when they married she knew what she was in for and that she very well may outlive him, if he didn’t get his health in check.
‘When Ricky and I met he was already a big man. So when he asked me to marry him I knew what I was getting myself into’, Cheryl said during a TLC documentary – which tracked the couple’s life over Ricky’s final years.
From there the couple embarked on a difficult and challenging journey to try and get Ricky to lose weight – each doctor giving him the same ultimatum – lose weight, or your life.
The man was confined to his bed, and Cheryl did everything for him from cooking his food to cleaning every inch of his huge body, and helping him go to the toilet.
Ricky could barely speak without becoming short of breath, let alone stand up or move from the bed he was confined to. He often needed the assistance of an oxygen machine.
But Cheryl and Ricky had dreams to start a family and have children, despite never having consummated their marriage due to Ricky’s extreme obesity.
In desperation, he reached out to a woman from Houston, Texas, named Angie Flores who lost more than 80 kilograms after undergoing gastric surgery and is now an advocate for others looking to change their lives in the same way.
Ricky desperately needed surgery which reduces the size of the stomach by 80 percent, but could not undergo it until he lost at least 40 kilograms on his own first.
From there the morbidly obese man’s life over the next few years took a cyclical and repetitive nature which eventually lead to the breakdown of his marriage, and later, his death.
First Dr Duc Vuong, originally a refugee from Vietnam who trained in America as a obesity specialist, took the trip to Guam with Angie to assess the state of Ricky and the possibility of Ricky undergoing surgery.
Dr Vuong told Ricky he must shift some weight on his own before he can even consider any procedure, and also laid some of the responsibility on Cheryl as she is the one who cooks for him.
She admitted she was not strong enough to resist his begging for food – and lots of it – and said despite being immobile her husband was in control.
‘When it comes to food and Ricky wants something he’ll keep going on and on and on and on until I finally give it to him. It’s very hard because I am his wife – can I control his eating habits, no I can’t.’
When Dr Vuong reached out to a clinic on the Island, the head of the facility Dr John Steel gave Ricky the same ultimatum. If he couldn’t lose any weight on his own then he could not be helped, it was simply too dangerous to try and perform surgery.
The possibility of moving Ricky to Houston for an operation slowly became more and more impossible as he failed to lose weight, and the next step was to reach out to a doctor in Australia.
World leading obesity surgeon George Hopkins, from Brisbane Australia, also made the trip to Guam to discuss the possibility of performing the surgery closer to home for Ricky – but again gave the man the same conditions.
When he delivered it Ricky and Cheryl broke down, and said they couldn’t handle hearing that Ricky had to lose weight on his own any more as they believed they had done all they could.
‘It’s hard being stuck here, I can’t go nowhere I’m so depressed. I’m stuck in this bed every single day. Every single day’, Ricky said through tears earlier in the documentary.
In the end, Cheryl and Ricky’s marriage broke down and Ricky took ‘some pills’ and stopped breathing. An hour and a half of CPR by paramedics failed to revive him and he died aged 39.
Ricky’s story highlights the obesity epidemic sweeping the world – and shows although he was presented with many ways out he could not overcome his demons.
He described his relationship with food as ‘like a bad drug addicts battle with’, and his official cause of death was determined to be morbid obesity following his death on November 10, 2012.
Source: Daily Mail