It’s really not about health

I’ve been seeing a few things lately on gastric banding.  Namely, a couple good posts over at Fat Lot of Good.  Specifically, these two posts. 

I personally know two people right now who’ve undergone gastric banding.  One person is my husband’s cousin, the other is a friend from the SCA.  Both people are great people, both were morbidly obese.  One (my SCA friend) was in the “OMG You’re going to die RIGHT NOW you fatty fat fat person!” range.

Both have had the surgery.  Conall’s cousin had hers over a year ago, while my SCA friend just had his recently.

Yanno what?  The banding hasn’t worked for the cousin.  Yes, she lost a couple of pounds, but really, not enough to make any difference.  She’s still a “fatty fat fat” person.  She’s been in and had the band adjusted a few times (the first time the doctor did his best to make it the worst situation ever, she came back from there saying “It hurt so bad I’m never going back!”)  And she’s maybe lost 25 or 30 pounds.  Ever.  In over a year. 

She has side effects from the procedure.  She can’t eat “too fast” or she’ll have “productive burping” (and isn’t that a nice way to say vomiting).  If she eats something too rich (like my cheesecake on holidays, even two bites) she immediately has intense pain.  I’ve seen this happen.  She always has to be near a bathroom.  And she still has to take 20 bajillion vitamins a day so she doesn’t become malnourished.

My friend just had the surgery done this summer.  He’s still in the honeymoon period.  He’s finding out what he can and can’t eat, and how certain foods no longer like him.  Besides being told by his doctors that this (the gastric banding) was the only way to SAVE HIS LIFE, he buys into the whole “if I’m skinny, I’ll be happier” myth.  The problem is, if you are a depressed person while fat, you aren’t going to not be depressed just because you are skinny.   Yeah, I know, amazing concept there.

I have another friend, who has diabetes.  Due to circumstances (no money for meds, no insurance, no money for doctors) she was working hard at controlling her blood sugars by diet alone for a very long time.  She weighed in at the ‘overweight’ category but she was (and is still) fine with her body and whatever weight it is.  Her circumstances have changed, and she can now receive the medical attention she so desperately needed for so long.

She’s had some problems with the medications.  I won’t go into all of them, because it’s not my story to tell, but one of the problems is that her medications have caused her to gain weight.  Let me say this again:  Her medications have caused her to gain weight.

So, when she’s having other problems with the medications what does the endocrinologist suggest?  Finding a medication that doesn’t cause the problems the first one is?  No, he suggests gastric banding.  He tells her it could “cure her diabetes”.  You know, for the woman who had diabetes for years that she was (only semi-successfully) controlling via diet because she couldn’t afford a doctor.  For a woman who only gained the weight to be a super fatty fat fat woman AFTER being put on said medicines to help her diabetes.

Now, how exactly is causing her to starve going to cure her diabetes that developed when she was thinner and working at doing everything she could to control her diabetes via diet when she couldn’t afford doctors?

See, it really isn’t about health.  If it was, then the doctor would have listened when my friend said she was satisfied with her body, explained everything surrounding her weight gain (of which I believe this doctor at least saw some evidence of since she’d been going to see him) and found a real solution to her problem.

But, you know, we’re fat.  So it’s okay to threaten us, to frighten the living daylights out of us, and to entice us by saying being medically starved will cure diabetes.  Yanno, that last just might be true after all.  I mean, if you die of starvation, you don’t have diabetes anymore, right?

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12 Responses

  1. Did you know that gastric banding is now being marketed by some as COSMETIC surgery?

    • At least that has more “truth in advertising” than saying it’ll cure everything that’s wrong with a person.

  2. Ew. And that`s awful.

  3. Wow. That’s just obscene. It should be called “barbaric” surgery, not “bariatric” surgery. And people still sign up for it in the expectation that they’ll be one of the few who has no negative side effects.

    • I agree with calling it “barbaric surgery”. Too bad we can’t get the whole country (and the doctors) to agree with this assessment.

  4. IIRC some of the bariatric studies have shown “cures” for diabetes even without weight loss and/or even in cases where the diabetes pre-dated the weight. I say “cure” because when I was looking at the data, it was all a matter of definitions…

    By the particular body-chemical-level tests that were being used to define diabetes, these people were cured. Something about the trauma that the procedure put the body through caused the body to adjust its natural chemical levels, so the tests that previously detected “Diabetic!” now would not.

    But the questions in my mind after reading those things were:

    1. Are these tests accurate, or are the traumatic effects of the surgery causing the *particular test method/location* to produce spurious data? (like, if they check blood from a particular place, what if the circulation to that place has been altered?)

    2. If they’re testing for a particular symptom, is it possible to still have and suffer other effects from diabetes while this one particular chemical level says you’re fine? Are people *really* not diabetic anymore, or just no longer able to be spotted by tests?

    3. Does this “cure” actually persist? THey were very keen to tell how QUICKLY tests would no longer proclaim you a diabetic, but not how long it would last for.

    and none of what I was reading could really answer that…

  5. Thanks for the shout out. I am hoping to write my first PhD paper next year on ‘failed’ gastric bandings. Somehow I dont think I am going to have much trouble finding enough research subjects!

  6. Creepy true experience from last week: Mr. Twistie and I were driving up the state (we’d gone down to Los Angeles for a wedding, and were on our way back home to the San Francisco area) when we saw a billboard promoting lap banding. Not only promoting it, but in cases where the patient was ‘at least 30 pounds overweight!’

    Thirty freaking pounds over your suggested BMI (and remember this is the measurement by which Johnny Depp – really, JOHNNY DEPP – is overweight) and they’ll merrily cut you open and squeeze off your digestive tract (in exchange for great honking wads of cash) because you’re ZOMGDEATHFATZZZ!!!

  7. dear fanatic friend,

    i totally give permission to tell any details you want about the issues i’ve had with the medications. 🙂

    yes, i’m the friend…and some of the issues are pretty scary. and i told the doctor NO. NO NO NO i am not wanting a “surgical solution” to this issue, its not something i feel is necessary, and i am not convinced it will work (and guess what? that last checkup? i was bloated PMS’ing and had STILL lost weight. so there.)

    • Fanatic? Not so sure about that. I’m just sick of people trying to kill us because we are different. And yeah, cutting you (general you) to insert something that’s going to help you to starve? When it’s not been proven to have any lasting weight loss effects (no study I’ve ever seen has gone past 2 or 3 years, that not long term enough) and yet has shown to have multiple unwanted side effects starting immediately after surgery?

      I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make me a fanatic. I think it makes me somebody who cares. 🙂

      • i know that, dear one. i was teasing you again. 🙂

        besides, Himself doesnt want me to have surgery, either. ESPECIALLY after i told him the “side effects”.

        *hugs* and i’m glad you care. 🙂

  8. Thank you for posting those links … I think …

    Several people I know have undergone the surgery or have it up coming and it’s all I can do to not grab them by the shoulders and shake them, I’m so convinced it’s a horrible idea. So far things are going well for them, but I fear for the future.

    A while back I dated a radiologist at a prominent NYC hospital, and he said that he saw more people coming in with complications from bariatric surgery than anything else. I hope that sooner rather than later this practice will be up there with bloodletting in the medical journals.

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