Through lifestyle change, healthy eating habits and regular exercise, Krystal Kayne managed to shed 130 pounds the natural way.
Kayne, a 38-year-old single mother and full-time Brandon University student, weighed 380 pounds at her heaviest. Now, she weighs 250 pounds and is working to lose another 50.
It has been a long journey for Kayne, who is determined to make her weight-loss dream come true.
"I was ecstatic that I had lost the weight but, you know when you’re right at the finish line and then you get tripped … that’s how I felt," she said. "Right now I kind of feel half defeated because I can’t complete the goal because I can’t get the surgery."
While she is proud of the weight loss, Kayne said the celebration didn’t last long. Her next major hurdle is dealing with excess skin. She estimates she has 40 pounds of loose skin hanging on her body.
"Now I have excess skin, so it doesn’t seem like I’ve lost anything," she said. "I still feel as big. I felt happier when I was bigger than I do now … I have to wear the same clothes … I bruise really easy, water retention is a huge issue."
The folds of hanging skin and its dormant fat cells are interfering with Kayne’s quality of life, and puts her at higher risk for diabetes, cancer and other health problems.
There is also the risk of recurrent skin fold infections, which can burn and itch and are often painful.
"This affects every aspect of my health, including mental health and quality of life," she said.
Kayne has met with doctors over the years about undergoing the necessary surgeries. The estimated cost she received for removing excess skin from her entire body would be in the realm of $30,000.
Kayne said she was "shocked" and "crushed" to learn that Manitoba Health will only cover $500.
The surgeries are considered cosmetic, but Kayne believes it is reconstructive.
"If somebody has scars all over their face, they fix it … they get reconstructive surgery, but they call this cosmetic," she said. "I’m asking them to remove something that’s affecting my health."
As a very young child, Kayne was the victim of sexual abuse, which led to the weight gain, and she now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
"What’s the best way to discourage that kind of attention? Become unattractive," she said. "Now I feel I can start getting my life back, I’m going to counselling and stuff like that and all my different counsellors know that this is a huge aspect for me, a huge hurdle."
In a letter sent to Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell in 2010, Kayne’s counsellor Sherry Sawatzky-Dyck spoke about the challenges her client faced.
"Research shows obesity and the resulting lack of mobility increase the pain of such (chronic pain) disorders. Her physical size has also restricted her physical access to certain seating configurations in lecture halls and classrooms at BU. These issues combined have affected her emotional/physical well-being, her mental health and will clearly affect her academics," wrote Sawatzky-Dyck.
Back in 2009, Dr. Leanne Nause of Agassiz Medical Centre wrote that Krystal would "benefit greatly from these surgeries in multiple ways, including less strain on her joints and improving her self-esteem, which will in turn help treat her PTSD and anxiety."
Kayne said the surgeries would dramatically improve her life, as well as the life of her teenage son Jaren, who has high-functioning autism.
"I think I would have more confidence … just the ability that people can judge me for my brain and actions rather than what I look like," she said.
"I’ll be here longer for Jaren … There’s very little family support and nobody that lives here, so it’s just me and him and I want to be here for him longer, and then he wont get bullied and teased as much because of me."
Kayne has been approved for lower-body surgery, which has an estimated cost of $11,000. She will be assessed in May, for possible surgery in June.
"Right now, I’m not sure how I can raise this money," she said. "Right now, that’s the biggest stress."
A request for an interview with a Manitoba Health official was not granted, but a spokesperson responded to the Brandon Sun’s request for information.
"Generally speaking, the removal of excess skin is considered elective plastic surgery and is excluded from Manitoba Health coverage.However, if the individual’s surgeon believes this procedure is medically required and not for the primary purpose of changing appearance, the surgeon can apply to Manitoba Health to have it covered as an insured service," according to Manitoba Health.
"It is our understanding that other provinces also have a requirement of ‘medical necessity’ to cover the costs of surgical procedures."