HAYS — A couple of years ago, Cynthia Bolling had to use a wheelchair to get around Via Christi Village — that is, when she left her room.
At the end of this month, she will walk out of the rehabilitation center to a new home with the help of just a cane, having shed more than 100 pounds and the depression and anxiety that contributed to her weight gain.
Bolling, 64, first came to Via Christi in 2014 with a broken leg and ankle from a fall during a seizure. The injury required surgery and lots of rehabilitation work.
Doctors told her Via Christi would be the best place for her. She didn’t want to stay, however.
“When she first got here, she had a lot of really strong pain medications, dealing with a lot of pain,” said Ariane Arias, director of nursing at Via Christi. “She used to be confined so much. She would either be in her room or stay in her neighborhood."
In 2015, Bolling had back surgery and had to use a wheelchair.
As part of her therapy for her leg and her back, the staff had her ride a recumbent stationary bike. Even with that, Bolling started to put on weight.
“I got in a wheelchair, and I just stayed and ate. I got up to 282 and a half” pounds, she said Thursday in her room at Via Christi.
Bolling had worked as a CNA in earlier years and remained active before her fall. Being restricted in her movement and putting on the weight brought on a deep depression, she said.
“Depression made me anxious, and anxiety made me depressed. So it’s a double whammy,” she said.
“I wouldn’t even open my window blinds when I was here. I always had it dark in here,” she said.
In contrast, on Thursday, bright light streamed into her room. Teddy bears and stuffed animals — mostly gifts from friends and family — lined her bed and drawings by children hung on the walls.
Her wheelchair is now more of a desk, she said with a laugh, gesturing at a stack of books and papers.
“I use this to dry my towels,” she said of the walker sitting to the other side.
Today, she weighs around 154 pounds.
Bolling said exercise, eating right and God helped her lose the weight. Medication helped with the depression and anxiety.
It was when she reached 282 pounds she decided she needed a change.
“I got tired of being overweight. So I gave up desserts and candy and started eating soups and salads and fruits and vegetables,” she said.
Was it hard to do?
“No,” she said. “God was there for me."
The stationary bicycles she used for therapy became part of her exercise routine 45 minutes a day. Journaling, reading her Bible more and attending Mass also helped.
Today, she is free of the seizures and many of the medications she was taking before.
When she had to have two more back surgeries last fall, she was able to bounce back quickly.
“That was a bit of a trial for me, but I made up my mind I was going to walk after, and I was up as soon as I could, and that was the day after surgery,” she said.
Bolling will move to Centennial Towers on July 1. She plans to get to know as many of her neighbors as she can.