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I died… and came back to start a business

Friday March 17 2017

Eunice Njeri at Oak Therapy Spa in South C.

Eunice Njeri at Oak Therapy Spa in South C. Eunice started the spa in February 2015 after being unable to lose her excessive health-threatening weight in the gym. PHOTO| FLORENCE BETT  

By FLORENCE BETT
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Eunice Njeri died in January 2011.

“I was in hospital when my heart stopped beating,” Eunice, 36, says.  We’re at the spa she runs as a side-hustle, Oak Therapy Spa in South C. Her day job is in procurement with a fitness company. “I was told I was gone for about six minutes. My bowels went loose. I remember my family crying around me and my aunt calling out the name of Jesus. She was praying out loud and mentioning all the good things I had done.”

Eunice had just had her daughter via an emergency C-section. “Labour had started at around 3am the night before,” she recalls. “I didn’t think I was in labour because I wasn’t in any pain. My water broke and we realised that the baby had pooped. We got to the hospital at around 11am. The doctor told my husband that they could only save one life.”

Eunice was 104 kilos at that time. Her heart was beating so fast against her chest she could not take a complete breath that would give her enough oxygen. That was why her heart stopped beating. The doctors were so certain she was gone that they stitched her up roughly after the C-section. “I was stitched up as if I was a sack,” Eunice says.

 “It was after I was resuscitated and the cardiologist saw me that he told me my heart was dilated because of excess weight.”

Eunice was okay for two days after giving birth to her daughter – “I even breastfed her” – but her heart couldn’t murmur itself down. She was put on a breathing machine since she could not breathe normally on her own and monitored for two weeks. When Eunice returned home, the area around the C-section became infected. Her doctor put her on medication and told her to take things easy.

Eunice effortlessly lost eight kilos in the first few months post-partum, but she wasn’t satisfied with her weight just yet. “I was 68 kilos before becoming pregnant.” Eunice and her husband opened a gym in their neighbourhood at the end of that year. Urban Fitness, it’s called. Eunice had two sessions in the gym every day but the stress of working out wasn’t good for her post-surgery wound or her heart. She gave it a rest.

In 2013, she had another baby. A boy. “I told the doctor to give me a tummy tuck after delivery.” So for an extra Sh300,000,  Eunice got a very clean bikini cut and lost six kilos while at it. She was 96 kilos. To get rid of the excess post-baby weight, she went on crash diets, popped weight-loss pills and drank teas by the gallons. “None of them worked for me. I later tried this electrotherapy programme I saw on Facebook. The sessions were costly, though, and I knew they were franchising the machines from South Africa. So I went to South Africa to buy the machine and continued with the sessions on my own. I lost 24 kilos in three months.”

In February 2015, Eunice opened Oak Therapy Spa. “My target market was people like me, men and women who can’t go to the gym to lose weight because of medical reasons. People with arthritis or knee problems, diabetics, those who’ve had a stroke or water retention.”

Oak Therapy offers, among others, the electrotherapy machine for weight loss, and the Ultrasonic liposuction and G5 Power cellulite reduction machine for inch loss. Before her clients start on the programmes with these machines, Eunice advises them on diet choices and workout regimes.

“These machines help you lose weight but they don’t train the heart muscles,” says Eunice. “We advise our clients to walk at least 30 minutes every other day for cardio exercise.”