Marie Bowman, a 70-year-old New York City woman, had to be rescued by firefighters Friday after she fell ill and discovered that at 910 lbs she was unable to get out of her apartment. Far from being a tale of mere overeating, Bowman's story involves love, loss, and an inspiring will to overcome obstacles, both physical and mental, that became seemly insurmountable.
Bowman had not left her apartment since September 2014, when upon returning to her home, she began to have difficulty moving her legs. “I was just coming home and it happened all of a sudden,” she told The New York Post. “I was pivoting to sit down on the bed, and then I couldn’t swing my other leg back — and I was frozen.” The condition did not improve. Therefore, when she felt so ill Friday that she needed to seek medical attention, she had no choice but to call 911.
When the fire department arrived at her door, Bowman discovered just how dire her situation had become. “It was the first time I discovered I couldn’t get out of my apartment,” she said. “They tore out the frames and all the knocking and hammering, only to find I’m still wider than the frame,” she said tearfully. "Oh God." Bowman broke down as she spoke about the terrifying realization. “I had grown too big. And that was frightening, because you don’t think, never once, that I wouldn’t be able to get through my door.”
Firefighters then used a crane to lower the elderly woman down the side of the building through her second floor window. She was then rushed to St. Luke's Hospital for medical treatment. “They applauded when they got me through the window and to the ground. It made me feel very bad, like a spectacle,” she wept.“I am determined to get better," she told The Post. "Weight reduction, exercise. It’s scary to know that you can pick up that kind of weight.”
But Bowman knows that physical rehabilitation is only one piece of her recovery. She recalled the tragic series of events that led her down this dangerous road. “Every person I ever tried to get close to slipped through my fingers,” she said. After two failed marriages, she lost two close family members. “I lost my mother in August 1999 and my grandmother in March 2001, and I never grieved fully. It was all too much,”
Even after losing her mother and grandmother, she was left with an adopted son who was employed at the World Trade Center during 9/11. Because he had worked a double shift the day before the terrorist attacks, he was not on the job when the buildings collapsed. However, this bit of luck only bought him one additional month of life, as he died tragically in a motorcycle accident in October 2001.
The successive deaths of loved ones, combined with what she described as fear of abandonment, led her down a dark path. As she became less physically able to travel outside her home in her wheel chair, she had home aides come and help her around the house. But eventually, even they were unable to care for her. “It got to the point where the aides wouldn’t even try to lift me anymore,” she said.
Now that she is out of her apartment and in the care of doctors, she is determined to change her life before it is too late. “This is my life, not a show. I want to live. I’m here in the hospital because I want to live," she said, adding that she is hoping that one day she will be able to walk again. “Feeling the sun on my face again never felt so good.”