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Why would you do that?

July 7, 2014

Team Gnomercy

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Diet TalkDickweedWeight Loss SurgeryMy Boring-Ass LifeExerciseFat HealthWeight Loss

Rapier fighting, medieval style.

Rapier fighting, renaissance style.

Trigger warning: Diet talk, weight loss surgery talk

My husband, Conall, is an ally in my self-acceptance. He has never once bugged me about my weight. Back when I was still on the diet roller coaster, he accepted my attempts at losing weight as my choice, but he’s always loved me at whatever weight I’ve been.

In 2004, I seriously thought about weight loss surgery (WLS). I realized I wasn’t going to be able to lose weight on my own, and I had a few doctors pushing it on me. I was “deathfat” and would die in zero point nine seconds if I didn’t lose weight. You know, immediately! Even though my cholesterol has always been good, my blood pressure, my blood sugar, and all the other things they check have always been within normal parameters. But I was fat! OBESE!!! Therefore I was dying!

Conall strongly opposed WLS. He rightfully pointed out that none of the issues I was seeing doctors for (i.e., amenorrhea, pain due to polycystic ovary syndrome, and the occasional accident or sinus infection) were caused by my weight.

I finally listened to him and told the doctor who was trying to force me to agree to WLS to stop. When he didn’t, I stopped going to him.

About two months ago, Conall’s cousin had WLS. Not a lap band — she had that done about three years ago, and didn’t lose enough weight. Enough for what? I don’t know … for her doctors to stop fussing at her for being fat, maybe? For doctors to stop scaring her by telling her she was going to end up like her mother (who’d had rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, liver issues from being on NSAIDs for many years, chronic iron deficiency … and, oh yeah, she was fat, in part due to being on prescribed steroids at high dosages for at least two decades). No, she had the stomach mutilation … err Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone very well for Conall’s cousin. Between complications with the surgery, complications with the hospitalization, complications with the complications, she’s spent more time in the hospital in the past two months than she’s spent out of it.

Conall and I were talking about her today. The conversation started when he asked if she was in or out of the hospital at this point. During the conversation, he said, “Why would she do that anyway?” I think he forgot about my own almost decision about that.

So, I started enumerating reasons:

Well, first, almost every doctor in the world tells their (mostly) female patients that they have to lose weight because otherwise they will die! And die tomorrow! Even when they are in great health!

Second, the social pressures on women to be “thin” and “pretty” are extreme.

At this point he said, “But she’s older than me! You expect to gain weight when you hit a certain age.”

Yeah … no. I don’t care if a woman is 15 or 55 or 75, if they are fat, they are told to lose weight because they will die.

Conall really was trying to understand, but wasn’t getting it. Then I remembered. Last year he had a very small taste of what women go through with almost all of their doctors, and he didn’t like it.

“Remember last year when we thought you had a heart attack? And you went into the doctor’s office and she took one look at you, saw you were coming in after an ER visit because we thought it was a heart attack and needed a doctor’s release to go back to work?”

“Yeah, that woman was a piece of work! She didn’t even ask what my activity level was, just walked in, had already calculated that my BMI was 28.7, and told me that I needed to get more exercise and eat less!”

“Uh huh.”

“And didn’t stop until I told her that I am in a very active job, where I walk on average seven miles a day as well as do heavy lifting, and then for my fun I practice rapier fighting for a couple hours a week.”

“Uh huh.”

“And then after I told her what my activity level was, she told me I should stop doing so much and almost didn’t give me the release because I couldn’t stop doing all the work at my job.”

“Uh huh.”

“Of course, I wasn’t ever going to go back to her!”

“So, you had a very small taste of what doctors do to me all the time, and didn’t like it, huh?”

“Of course I didn’t like it … wait, what?”

“Almost every single doctor in my life has done to me what that doctor did to you. Oh, except when I told them my activity level, they’d call me a liar.”

“What about that gynecologist that listened to you?” A few years ago I had to have an ablation due to hemorrhaging.

“Oh, you mean the one who sent me to the dietitian because he wouldn’t listen to me about how I did not need to lose weight, when, other than the hemorrhaging that was caused by the PCOS, I was in good health?”

“Oh, yeah. I forgot he did that.”

By the end of the conversation, I think he really did get it: soctal pressures to be skinny. Every doctor you ever go to who doesn’t believe you are doing the activity levels you are saying AND are lying about your food intake, as well as telling you that if you don’t lose weight immediately, you’ll die. Friends and family who are well meaning, who constantly ask “do you really need that ice cream/cake/meat/pasta/whatever they think is the cause of you being obese.” People on the internet telling you to eat a gun because you are fat.

Right now, his cousin is out of the hospital. But I’m afraid for her. I know her doctor didn’t tell her about the long term consequences of bypass surgery (which include chronic low iron, chronic low vitamin/mineral levels, and a lot of other worse complications). Considering she’s gone through so many complications just basically from the surgery, I have to wonder how hard the other complications will be.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    July 7, 2014 12:23 pm

    All of those chronic nutrition deficiencies she’s having can lead to neurological problems, as well as loss of cognition, nerve damage, hair loss, damage to and loss of teeth, and more. That RNY can lead to adhesions, twisted intestines/bowel, obstructions – all of which mean more surgery and more risk of dying while in surgery or afterward. Most of the time, with the absorption issues that RNY causes, the only way to get vitamins and minerals in adequate amounts is through shots – she won’t be able to take large enough amounts of them orally because her digestive system won’t absorb them. From what I’ve seen on the OSSG-gone_wrong group, I haven’t seen anyone who’s had WLS who hasn’t had complications of some kind, and I’ve seen a lot of those people who have said that if they had known what the results were going to be, they would have said “Hell no!” to their doctors who were pushing them to get WLS.
    I had the less-restrictive VBG (stomach-stapling) done almost 17 years ago and I have complications from it that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My best friend died from having a VBG (she had two of them, the second one was to revise the first one because she started regaining her lost weight). So even the versions of WLS that aren’t supposed to have as many complications are still dangerous, still have complications, and still don’t work in many cases to turn fat people into permanently thin people.
    This societal push to meet some “ideal” body standard is killing people and it needs to change, but I just don’t see that happening (not any time soon, anyway).

    • July 7, 2014 3:57 pm

      I agree with everything you’ve said Vesta, (here it comes) but, I’d be careful about drawing conclusions from people in a group. They tend to select there because they have problems. Especially one that’s for people who have had surgery that’s gone wrong! It could be that they are a small part of post-surgical population and there may be thousands of happy post-surgery people who are out living their lives and not on internet survivor groups. I’m not saying this is the case, just to be careful about generalising more widely from a self-selecting group.

      Big Obesity do this all the time – ‘all the people at my clinic for very sick fat people are really sick and fat, so all fat people need to lose weight because fat people get really sick.’ And we laugh at them. So just be careful how you phrase that.

      I’m sure you know this and were probably writing in haste. This is more for others who might be reading. Without a doubt, the risk/benefits of these surgeries are not being accurately represented and a generation of hat-fating doctors are wreaking havocs on their desperate patients.

    • bronwenofhindscroft permalink
      July 7, 2014 8:53 pm

      “This societal push to meet some “ideal” body standard is killing people and it needs to change, but I just don’t see that happening (not any time soon, anyway).”

      I agree with you, both on the change needed, and no not seeing that needed change any time soon.

  2. Happy Spider permalink
    July 8, 2014 1:25 pm

    I’m sorry your husband’s cousin is so sick.

    I find social pressure to be really hard to understand. I have thought badly of a group of people and come up with long, rational lists of reasons why their behavior is stupid, and then later I’ve been in the group and found myself acting the same way. When I was inside I remembered being outside and I remembered all my arguments but somehow, inside, I just rejected the arguments without being able to give any reasons for rejecting them.

    When I was outside it seemed completely natural and right to think one way and then inside it was completely natural to think in a different way. So, I’ll buy an inappropriate house or car. Invest in the stock market. Invade a foreign country. Hate and condemn someone completely out of proportion to the offense. Then much later I’ll think “why? Why did I do that? I know better! I’m not stupid!”

    I used to hear about ” mob mentality” and ” the madness of crowds” without much sympathy. How can people act so stupidly, I’d sniff. Adults have the responsibility to make mature decisions. How can these people be so lacking in strength of character? I think I understand a little better now.

    It feels a bit like the way when you’re in one emotional state you can’t imagine being in another emotional state. Like the narrator in Kierkegaard’s Diary of a Seducer who felt that the person he was when he was in love was a different person than the person he was when he fell out of love ( and therefore the unloving self was not obliged to honor the promised the infatuated self made. Because the narrator was scum). Like when you recover from an illness or low spirits and life seems really wonderful and you think that you should always get as much joy from life as you do right at this moment, but after several weeks or months you get used to being healthy again and to no longer feels so special.

    So I think, wow, I would never mutilate my stomach. It’s hard for me to imagine why someone would do such a thing. But if I was in the right crowd of people I bet I could be talked into it anyway.

  3. July 10, 2014 5:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Sly Fawkes and commented:
    There was an elderly woman in front of me at the checkout line yesterday, probably in her late sixties. She was practically apologizing to both the cashier and to me for purchasing the black walnut ice cream.
    “I know I need to lose weight,” she said, “but I just can’t resist the black walnut ice cream.”
    “Go for it,” I said.
    I had to resist the urge to scream “for fucks sake, Woman, you are in your senior years. Stop worrying about being society’s ideal and live your life!”

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