Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Super Obesity

Sunday night I watched The Learning Channel (TLC). I really like this station and their programming. On this night, there were back to back shows about people who were called "Super Obese". That means they weighed more than 500 pounds. I was surprised to learn that in American 15 million people are considered Obese, and over 1 million of those considered "Super Obese".

The three persons who were documented in the segments was a 30 year old woman who weighed more than 900 pounds, a 19 year old man who weighed 800 and a man around 40 who weighed 1048 pounds. I watched with a range of emotions from horror to sadness. Each of these persons had family, the two who were older had children. And, it was sad to see the shape they were in.

During the segments, each of them were removed from their home, which included removing walls, etc. They were taken to Renaissance Hospital in Houston, TX. This hospital has an entire wing dedicated to helping obese patients and the same doctor was involved with these three patients. They've got bigger beds, wider doorways, had altered operating tables, etc. so that they could accomodate patients of these sizes.

All three were going to have the gastric bypass surgery, but so much was involved prior to that being able to happen. The man who weighed over 1000 lbs had surgery on both legs to remove huge fatty tumors. After 5 months he was able to stand up - for the first time in 3-4 years - he had lost about 400 lbs before his surgery was ever scheduled. The teenager was doing ok - he had still been able to get up and walk - but he was an only child and very spoiled, so he didn't do so good if mom was around. The young mother lost a couple of hundred pounds, had the surgery which was successful, and was improving greatly when she suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Throughout the whole time I spent watching these episodes, I kept saying to myself, "Thank you God that I did't get to this point" and "Thank you God for letting me see the light before this is what I faced".

Some interesting points made during the shows:

1 - since two of these folks were bedfast for years, they had an 'enabler' in their life who actually brought them the massive amounts of food they ate. I'm sure for those persons, who were family members, it was out of love and pity. (The teenager did too - mom brought meals and snacks to him directly)

2 - the availability of cheap and fast food (drive thru windows) was directly related to all of these three's weight problems.

3 - once a person's weight goes over the 500 pound mark, it is not just what they consume, but metabolic problems, lack of movement, etc. that actually contribute to the problem becoming so much worse.

I was impressed with the persons who were in support positions, the firefighters and EMT's that moved the patients, and the PT's and nursing staff who were so caring and kind to the patients, especially during the difficult times of trying to move them. As a person who once had casts on both legs and had to be moved about by others, I know it does not make you feel very much like a human and the extraordinary kindness of the folks helping you really does make a difference.

I'm not sure what all of this means to me right now, but, each day I am looking at my life and how it is improving, and, it is beyond my control that I will want to take what I'm learning and spread it to everyone I can - that's just who I am.

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