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?