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Ann Wilson's Lap-Band

Ann Wilson of Heart had a plastic band wrapped around her stomach in order to lose 60 pounds. She claims she did it to be more active with her kids. Fair enough. But look at this:
She has had to learn to chew her food more thoroughly, since it has to pass through a narrow opening about the size of a pencil eraser.

Seems pretty... interesting. There's also a CBS article that, thankfully, examines the downsides of the surgery. The woman interviewed had so many problems with the Lap-Band that she had it removed. Oh, and, she decided to go ahead and get gastric bypass instead (yikes!)

Not-So-Heavy D | Weighing Obesity, Continued

Brian August 4th, 2003 | Link | I'm amazed at how it is
I'm amazed at how it is downplayed that she's a paid spokesperson. The Miami Herald didn't mention it at all, but it did have the cryptic bit about her being "recruited" for the surgery. At least CBS got around to it eventually, but only to set her up for the usual "oh, but its the truth" response. I was wondering when we'd get the media onslaught with Ann Wilson and it appears its time has come. I wonder what other celebrities will get "recruited" to promote medical procedures by painting the kind of beautiful picture doctors couldn't do to ethical rules. Get ready for another one this coming winter. A judge on American Idol recently got WLS, so I'm sure we'll be hearing about it constantly on that show, too. Maybe they'll make it mandatory for contestants. One can only hope there isn't a product placement deal like with Coke and others. The last thing I'd want to encountered while flipping through channels is the WLS sponsored "Gut-Wrenching Clip of the Week".
Paul August 4th, 2003 | Link | I wouldn't be surprised,
I wouldn't be surprised, Brian. And thanks for pointing out that Wilson is a paid spokesperson - just as Carnie Wilson is, on the multiple gastric bypass commercials I see daily. I'm also half-expecting "American Weight-Loss Surgery Of The Moment Idol" this fall on Fox.
Adrienne August 5th, 2003 | Link | Yikes, they have commercials
Yikes, they have commercials for WLS on TV??? I'm not opposed to the procedure in certain cases, but advertising on TV is a bit much. I mean, how many cardiologists advertise "Hey, we have a triple bypass special this month -- get two arteries bypassed and get the third one free!" types of specials. I'm glad I don't watch TV anymore.
Michelle August 5th, 2003 | Link | interesting! i was wondering
interesting! i was wondering why nancy wan't in the spotlight - i only knew of her surgery because i went to spotlighthealth.com seeking into on how Carnie Wilson was faring with her surgery. i suppose losing 60 pounds just isn't good enough! ;^) i noted a few annoying things with the article in CBS. they say her problems started when she was born weighing 10 pounds?? is that supposed to be related?? i don't think i even want to start on that one! then she shared that when she was younger, she fasted a lot- with the kind of "yeah isn't that awful?" revelation - but isn't lap band just fasting?? i wish her luck; i've always LOVED Heart and i think she has a fantastic voice, and i hope this works out... but still. the idea that she is a single mom and can't always "look sick" (as in, look fat?) kind of bothers me.
fatandfeisty August 5th, 2003 | Link | At the bottom of the CBS
At the bottom of the CBS article there's a link to one called Extremely Perfect, about a 48Hours report on the retouching of photographs and other ways of pushing an unattainable beauty standard. It focuses on Jamie Lee Curtis and the photo she did for More magazine, and comments from Christie Brinkley about how wildly unrealistic things have become since her day as a model. Jamie Lee is one of my new heroes-- for those who don't know, she offered More (a magazine for women 40+) the chance (which they took) to publish a picture of her in her underwear, no flattering lighting, no makeup, no styling, no retouching of any kind- with the express purpose of showing women what a normal mature woman looks like, particularly one who was "Perfect" in her youth. She wanted to show all her little bulgies and flabbies and I think it was a great thing to do. I know it's not really related to fat issues, but it's huge for the issue of women accepting their real selves and not comparing themselves to models who don't even look the way they are portrayed.
Jennifer Portnick August 5th, 2003 | Link | When I read Ann Wilson's
When I read Ann Wilson's story on SpotlightHealth.com (all paid celebrity stories by the way) I was struck by how much of her fat-related pain is emotional. She talks about how band members would have "the talk" with her, one by one, to let her know she just had to do something about her fat body. There is an explosion right now of WLS stories and it's just the beginning. I predict we are going to see backlash from WLS as well. Roseanne, for one, has commented in ways that strongly suggest she is not happy with her surgery. I imagine there will be more like that to come.
Charlotte August 5th, 2003 | Link | Further to Jennifer's
Further to Jennifer's comments, in regards to an explosion of WLS, and a possible backlash. If being fat suddenly was a "simple" choice (choosing not to have WLS), what would happen? Would rebels be fat? Would there be an attraction to the few remaining fat people? Would there be new research to show that these 'rebels' are indeed quite healthy, and happier than the surgically altered thin friends? Almost makes the whole process worth it...
Brian August 5th, 2003 | Link | The trouble is, WLS can
The trouble is, WLS can never be a simple choice even if it becomes a common one. It is still disabling a healthy, properly working body. Assuming the worst about fat, WLS is still nothing more than a lateral move. The horrible consequences of WLS aren't going away, so it should never be thought of as a simple choice. If that does become the mindset, thanks to sugar-coated propaganda like Carnie and Ann are being so well compensated for, then I'd have to worry for those people who remain opposed to the idea of destroying a healthy body in order to be somewhat less fat. If it becomes a "simple choice", then bigotry and discrimination will reach even greater depths than we've yet seen. Discrimination has been shown to be very unhealthy, and the health care of fat people could easily devolve into inconsequential levels. Both which would only serve to bolster the house of cards that is the arguement for WLS. The backlash to WLS will come because its inability to do even its most basic claim will be exposed and its risks will be more greatly understood. If the backlash doesn't happen or is suppressed, it can only be bad for fat people. The frightening trend towards WLS is fortunetly not at such levels that it is universally accepted that people have a choice to be thin through WLS, nor is it especially close. If it does, however, things may already be unredeemable, and I'd be very deeply concerned of what abuses remaining fat people will be put through. If WLS truly becomes so prominant, the health of fat people will have already become a completely irrelevant point as our lives will have proven worthless in the persuit of a thinner ideal.
liesel August 6th, 2003 | Link | I'm sorry, but I just don't
I'm sorry, but I just don't see why WLS is always a bad choice and why we should always make negative comments about those who chose to have it. I am a woman of size (I'm fat, whatever, don't know what the PC term is these days) and I support a person's right to chose. I am not automatically going to question or judge a person who decides to have this operation. If a person's weight is getting in the way of their enjoyment of life (however you want to define it) and would be more at peace, more comfortable, healthier, more active, more social, etc.. then why shouldn't they opt for WLS? Are we automatically going to label someone a "traitor" and deem his/her *informed* choice unacceptable? Are we supporting people or supporting their fat? We always say that fat should not define us or make us targets of discrimination - why, then, are we automatically giving a negative label to those people who do decide to have WLS? Don't misunderstand, I don't believe that WLS is for everyone, but I also don't believe that it is *always* a bad choice.
Paul August 6th, 2003 | Link | I'm sorry, but I just don't
I'm sorry, but I just don't see why WLS is always a bad choice and why we should always make negative comments about those who chose to have it. Big Fat Blog is not the place to post messages that support WLS.
liesel August 6th, 2003 | Link | Paul, I never said that
Paul, I never said that people should support WLS. I said that people should support others and their choices. I fully understand that WLS is a choice and body size is not. But if this forum is open to those who believe WLS is ALWAYS not an option, then I'm in the wrong place. Is this topic debatable or should I go elsewhere? Either way, I hope I didn't go against any of the posting rules on the BFB web site. It is a wonderful resource.
Paul August 6th, 2003 | Link | liesel, yep, this isn't a
liesel, yep, this isn't a forum for that type of debate. Also, check out the archives - I'm pretty certain that this issue has come up before. Might be worth reading. Thanks!
Jennifer Portnick August 6th, 2003 | Link | I don't blame people who
I don't blame people who have had WLS. I do blame people who promote WLS. And while I am fine with grown people doing what they want to with their bodies, I don't believe this surgery is a viable solution for anyone at this point. It's dangerous, not necessarily long term, and it's being used to promote cosmetic changes, not necessarily health ones. We are hurting people more than we are helping with this procedure, I strongly believe.
Rebecca August 6th, 2003 | Link | But I see anyone with
But I see anyone with anti-WLS sentiments is allowed to post even though "this isn't a forum for that type of debate". WLS isn't anti-fat acceptance. People who have made an informed decision to have WLS (and whose lives have been saved by the procedure) suffered the same fat discrimination that all fat people experienced. Why separate yourselves out as superior to those who had WLS by not allowing free debate? [Paul's note: This is the same person who posted earlier and had a pro-WLS message deleted; she proceeded to attack me via email. She has been banned from posting. Please ignore her - thanks.]
Brian August 6th, 2003 | Link | WLS is anti-fat acceptance
WLS is anti-fat acceptance by its definition. This isn't an attack on people who have the surgery, and no one has suggested such. We have spoken out against PAID spokespersons, however. As well we should. These people are not simply perpetuating fat bigotry, but they are promoting myths about the safety of these procedures. They should be called on their actions. I have sympathy for the person who has been made to feel that they need to destroy their body to save their lives. I know what they've experienced, and I am not going to blame them for their decision. Doesn't mean I should validate it, either. WLS is claiming the lives of fat people and it is built on a false premise. If fat acceptance isn't about protecting people from dying from fat prejudice, what can it be about? WLS is completely incompatible with Size Acceptance. It requires an acceptance of the notion that fat people are either hopeless gluttons or deserve a severe punishment for having the wrong body. It requires a belief that death is preferable to being fat. It requires one to agree that fat is unavoidably bad. That is a difference of opinion incompatible with size acceptance. There is too much need for validation these days. I mean, there is a world which supports WLS. Why is it so troubling that some people speak out against it? If people are going to be informed about WLS, someone needs to speak out against WLS. Yeah, that's going to mean disagreeing with WLS backers. That's the point.
Patsy Nevins August 6th, 2003 | Link | I agree, Brian. This is a
I agree, Brian. This is a size acceptance site, so it makes sense that those of us who post here would speak out against WLS & dieting. That is the whole damn point, we are supposed to be posting here because we accept (or at least want to accept) our bodies as they are, because we believe that people of all sizes & shapes are good enough as we are, & because we need, in this damnable fat-hating culture of ours, to have a few places where it is safe to be self-loving fat people, & to give & receive support & encouragement. As more than one of my friends has pointed out, there is a whole damn culture dedicated to promoting fat hatred & to perpetuating myths about fat people, to using scare tactics to convince us that we are digging our graves with our forks & that we are "less than" thin people. There are countless websites & message boards where you can spout your support of WLS &/or dieting to your heart's content, & find lots of support & agreement. There are a few places, such as bigfatblog & Marilyn Wann's Fat!So? Gabcafe, which have been created specifically for fat acceptance & for finding support for fighting our oppressors. If you think Paul discourages diet talk or pro-WLS talk, try posting those sentiments in the Cafe & see the reaction you get from Marilyn! Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, & to do what he or she likes with his/her own body, & no one can FORCE another to believe in size acceptance or to have self-esteem & a positive body image, but some of us do want to see the place which are for size acceptance REMAIN FOR size acceptance. And you will certainly never see me supporting a course of action which takes 12-15 years off a person's life expectancy & causes incredible pain, suffering, & lifelong ill health for most people, all because someone does not like the way a fat body looks.
Andee Joyce August 6th, 2003 | Link | What really scares me about
What really scares me about WLS is that there is no -- ZERO -- data about the long-term sequelae of gastric bypass. And it's been around at least 40 years, so it's not like there weren't opportunities to ask people how things were going. (Unless, of course, they weren't around anymore -- naaah, that couldn't possibly be true.) People are being sold this surgery like it's going to save their lives, when in fact there's absolutely no evidence that it will. Fat people are being made the laboratory test rats of this society when it comes to WLS, diet drugs, etc. Sure, some of them might have their back pain, diabetes, or whatever temporarily alleviated as long as the weight stays off --assuming they lose all they want to, which many don't. For the vast majority, it won't stay off. And even for those who do keep the weight off, they have to worry about the lifelong fallout from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, infections, repeat surgeries, bone loss, liver problems, gallbladder problems, etc., etc. Any treatment for any other medical condition that caused this many problems would be laughed out of the offices of the FDA. I don't personally believe fatness is a disease on a par with cancer or AIDS, but there are obviously those who do, and the double standard here is glaring. If you're going to treat fatness as a "killer disease," at least apply the same treatment efficacy standards you'd apply to other killer diseases. Even the most experimental cancer treatments approved by the FDA, used in "refractory" cases, work 50% of the time and don't result in lifelong disfigurement for the survivors. And people are briefed out the wazoo about the risks and benefits beforehand, advised it's an experimental treatment and told it might not work. But fat people are lining up and begging for a mode of treatment that doesn't even offer them that much. The brainwashing is unbelievable.
Paul August 6th, 2003 | Link | Folks, the person who is
Folks, the person who is posting here advocating WLS is a troll. Feel free to ignore her, and she'll go away.
Patsy Nevins August 6th, 2003 | Link | I believe that I noticed
I believe that I noticed pro-WLS posts from TWO people, Paul, so I guess I will just ignore both.
Adrienne August 6th, 2003 | Link | Actually, there is plenty of
Actually, there is plenty of debate about the long-term effects of gastric bypass. Especially when discussing the benefits vs. risks of teens and youngsters having the surgery. I don't think you can compare the bypass procedures of old (40 yrs ago) with the ones being done today. The ones today are less drastic (although still drastic) and are safer, even though they still carry a relatively high risk for a surgical procedure.
Brian August 6th, 2003 | Link | It may be nuance, but I
It may be nuance, but I don't think liesel's posts qualify as advocating WLS. I believe Paul is referencing the individual who was talking about WLS saving people. I believe it was that individual Paul was referring to. Kinda obvious what her agenda was when you see her email address. She was here for a purpose, as opposed to Liesel, who disagreed with the anti-WLS statements but was not necessarily advocating it, either.
Paul August 6th, 2003 | Link | Oh, yeah, I wasn't referring
Oh, yeah, I wasn't referring to liesel - I'm sorry if that wasn't clear. The issue was that the troll posted a second message under a new pseudonym, to give the appearance of instant support.
Brian August 6th, 2003 | Link | All the goes to show,
All the goes to show, Adrienne, is that we know nothing about the procedures done today. Beyond that, the surgeries aren't so fundamentally different that some long-term research wouldn't be useful. The only long-term info I've seen is quite negative, but I was under the impression it was drawn from studies of the same surgery when done as a necessary and not elective surgery. I'm not interested in getting laser eye surgery due to insufficiant long-term data. The idea of disabling a healthy system in my body and depending only on a surgeons insistance that "Its new so it must safer" is frightening and is justified soley through negative assumpsions about fat which are often so wildly exaggerated by surgeons that it is impossible to trust that patients are really being offered a fair and balanced assessment of the risks or potential benefits.
LLW August 6th, 2003 | Link | We need to remember that
We need to remember that medicine is a profit-making corporate force. It's not a "helping profession," unless you count doctors helping *themselves* to BMWs and boats and second homes and high status in their communities. Like all profiteering forces, the field of medicine is without soul or conscience. Individuals within it may have soul and conscience, but they also may not. In order to make us buy their products, they sell to us through normal product-selling techniques, triggering guilt, shame, and the more basic fears of death and of being ousted from the tribe. They dangle the hope of a magical new life. Patriotism, love, sex, status are basic advertising appeals. This is advertising analysis 101, which we all must have studied in high school. If medicine were about "health," a word I suspect more and more with each passing day of having had its meaning entirely polluted, there wouldn't have to be "spokesmodels" for elective sugeries. There wouldn't be drug commercials that show laughing people and a party, and a voice over saying, "Glorziz. Ask your doctor if you need some." No info on the condition it supposedly amelioriates...just a promise that you can be one of those laughing people if you take it, at $25 a pill. Sign me up! (for some stock in Glorziz' manufacturer, which is going to make a lot of bucks off a lot of dupes.) For years, I thought Clariton somehow made people better ballroom dancers--had no idea what it was allegedly for, and was almost ready to be amazed that ballroom dancing could be learned by swallowing a pill. And I use the term "allegedly" with specific intent. I don't believe these snake-oil salesmen any more than I believe the ones from 100 years ago. They've improved their wagon and their spiel, is all. Your random shaman has a better cure rate, using only herbs and rattles and belief. TV "programs," including "the news," pretend to be information but are simply longer advertisements, and we sit there agape, taking it all in like young religious students, apparently too stupid to understand advertising for what it is. The discovery of antibiotics is the single significant improvement modern medicine has made in the last 100 years. In a population that has seen nuclear bombs, chemical-induced cancers, Love Canal, Bhopal, DU lukemia, treatments worse than the condition (as was medicalized childbirth for a century), iatrogenic diseases, pharmaceutical addictions, and on and on, that we are still so gullible for the patter of "men of science" and "how much more we know now in this Great Modern Era" is embarrassing. How many times must we bit smacked on the head with the same two-by-four before we learn to flinch?
fatandfeisty August 6th, 2003 | Link | Brian, interesting that you
Brian, interesting that you compare WLS with laser eye surgery-- and it makes me start to understand a possible reasoning behind why people might choose WLS (which has always baffled me!!). Aside from the apparent simplicity of the lasik procedure, my vision was so bad before it that long-term effects weren't really an issue to me- after all, I'm close to 40 now and any further deterioration in my vision would have made it close to uncorrectable anyway-- so I had it and I'm thrilled.... and I'll be the first to tell you if I have problems with it at age 60, but I'm betting that the technology will have been further developed by then so as to provide a solution at that point. I suppose that means maybe the people who have WLS maybe feel like they have nothing to lose (NO pun intended there, I swear)?? Ugh, how horrible... food for thought though.
Omar August 6th, 2003 | Link | I just want to refer to
I just want to refer to Andee Joyce's comments. They are well thought out and well spoken. I have posted here off and on and am a regular visitor. I am also an eight-week post-op of the RNY gastric bypass procedure. I have had some early problems with the surgery (most notably, not being able to keep solids down) and am still on the fence concerning my opinion of this surgery. I have regrets, but I have resolved myself to giving this surgery 18 months until I formulate a full opinion. I, like many, was pressured into this surgery by my doctors, friends and family ... but I made the ultimate decision and thus am to blame if it goes wrong. Many of the things that Andee describes are completely valid and I don't think anyone should be "cheerleading" for this surgery. Like Leslie was saying it has to be a personal choice. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people who are quick to promote this surgery are a cure-all ... maybe for some it is, but for most there is a cost. The biggest thing that bothers me about WLS is that, in my opinion, a lot of people say they are doing this for their health, and I think if they are honest they would acknowledge that it is done for vanity reasons. For example, I recently attended a WLS support meeting and everyone was going around the room and saying their name, how far out from surgery they were and how much weight they had lost. When it was my turn I said my name and date of surgery and explained that I didn't have the surgery to lose weight, but to feel healthier. I think this caught a lot of people by surprise. Truth be told, I did this surgery because I was told that I would feel better and be healthier, but you would be surprised by how little doctors know about the procedure and how little surgeons tell you about "other" possible side effects. I hope and pray that I'm an exception to the rule and that I don't have complications, but I have started doing research to have my procedure reversed, or taken down, in case of problems. It scares my how many people are having this procedure done and, like Andee said, how little research there is about the long-term effects of WLS. I have written my legislators letters in hopes that they will look into this surgery and set standards for research as well as requirements from doctors and surgeons before this surgery is even considered. In my opinion the lack of standards is absurd and the fact that this procedure is done on people who are not in the morbid or super morbid obese category (for which this procedure was originally intended) is ridiculous. The fact that it is considered for children is frightening. I'll offer one last example before I stop rambling. I found out there are a lot of people coming from England to here WLS in the U.S. I found out the reason is because in England they won't do the surgery unless you are 50 BMI or over. Even then, you go through a year-long, medically supervised diet and then a determination is made. If you are determined to be a candidate for surgery, then they put you on a tightly supervised 24-month program and the procedure is reversed. England does take this surgery lightly and they are very strict about the procedure and who gets it ... maybe our surgeons could learn something from the Brits! In my opinion, England is focused on health, where I think our surgeons are focused on the $25,000 (approximately) they make from the surgery. Sorry to ramble, but in short I wanted to support Andee statements. Thanks for letting me express my opinions.
Brian August 6th, 2003 | Link | Hopefully, by the time my
Hopefully, by the time my vision gets bad enough that it may be laser or blindness, we will know more about the surgery. Until then, it is essentially a cosmetic procedure for something I can easily remedy with other means. The thing is, WLS is promoted on the assumpsion that all fat people are going to die 5 years from now. How often have we heard that number quoted by patients? I wonder if its taught in medical school that all fat people will be dead in 5 years. It's been "softened" to perminantly disabled lately, but it still reflects a situation which is out of touch with reality. More importantly, there remain reasonable solutions for the supposed weight-related difficulties that form the justification for WLS. Just solutions which may not result in weight loss. And let us not forget the the ones who "need it the most" will get the least. The fattest patients will be lucky to get down to a weight where they'd still have been pressured to have WLS. I often see WLS justified as a "last ditch" solution, but the reality is anything but. Its being proposed as a solution for any and all individuals over 200lbs. All of whom would die 5 years later. Besides that, given the slim to non-existant evidence that fat people are so because they eat too much, a "remedy" that is based on such an assumpsion would be like correcting your vision not through laser eye surgery but laser hair removal. For what concerns I have about laser eye surgery, it certainly isn't a procedure based on punishing me for having poor vision. That's all WLS is. That because people's bodies aren't what is expected or desired, they deserved to be punished in hopes of changing that. WLS isn't an effort to correct a body part which isn't functioning properly. It isn't an effort to even remove a body part which isn't functioning properly. It attacks healthy and properly functioning body parts. So, while I draw a comparison between WLS and laser eye surgery on one issue, I certainly don't mean to suggest any wider connection. Indeed, I'm not sure I can think of such an invasive procedure meant to attack a properly functioning body. The closest is cosmetic surgery (note: I do *not* mean reconstructive surgery) which I'm no fan of, but certainly isn't as abusive nor as punative as WLS.
Joan Mary August 6th, 2003 | Link | Man that CBS article
Man that CBS article contains tonnes and tonnes of links to quantities of other crappy articles-all saying the same darn thing over and over again.. Methinks if there was no"obesity crisis" a lot of journalists would be out of work ;)... not like they ever have anything new to say(oh except this one that said the being overweight causes blindness????thats a new one).... basically, sooner/later they are going to conclude that every possible illness can be traced to obesityat the root...
Olena August 6th, 2003 | Link | How desperate and hurt do
How desperate and hurt do you have to be to be bullied by your doctor into something like WLS? I understand that it is a personal choice, but if the modern medicine did not come up with such a mutilation, you would not even have to face this choice. I guess it really goes back to self-esteem and to the people around us that want to see each and every one conforming to the "Standard".
Brian August 6th, 2003 | Link | "Obesity" "causes" diabetes,
"Obesity" "causes" diabetes, which can result in blindness in extreme cases. I've seen conflicting reports, but generally it effects a small number of people but the risks increase the longer one has diabetes. There are, however, very promissing treatments (including, the previously debated laser eye surgery) but the key is active and dilligent care and prevention. It is not unreasonable to think that diabetic related blindness may be significantly curtailed in the decades to come, just on the basis of what treatments currently exist. But, when trying to scare fat people, blindness and amputation (another diabetes releated complication) prove to be powerful weapons.
Omar August 7th, 2003 | Link | Olena - I apologize in
Olena - I apologize in advance if I mistook your comments or if they were not directed at me ... but I took offense with the statement of being bullied into WLS. I was not bullied ... I received pressure, just like anyone who is overweight receives pressure from their doctor to lose weight. In my case it was an option that was discussed and one that my doctor advocated for ... but like I said, I made the ultimate decision to have it done. Pressue from my doctor was not the deciding factor.
Adrienne August 7th, 2003 | Link | You're right, Brian -- we
You're right, Brian -- we don't know yet what the long-term outcomes for the current crop of post-WLS (mostly Roux-n-Y) patients will be. Given how popular it's becoming, I suppose we'll all be hearing news stories for years down the road as unintended outcomes start popping up. What scares me the most about WLS (and I do consider having it every now and again) is the currently unknown long-term effects of vitamin and mineral deprivation. I've heard anecdotal stories of post-Roux-n-Y patients developing weird diseases like rickets that up to know have been extremely rare in the modern era due to increased nutrition. I am not totally anti-WLS, but people seem to be treating it more like a fad than a serious operation, which is quite sad. According to one medical source whom I trust, WLS is the single most effective long-term treatment for Type II diabetes. Often as people with Type II diabetes lose weight, their diabetes either goes away or becomes much easier to control. But new studies show that the amount that has to be lost for maximum help in controlling diabetes is typically very small -- not the very large amount that WLS causes. So it may be that many of the diabetes patients getting WLS now are really taking unecessary high risks by getting the surgery. And LLW, you are being unfair to doctors. Some of them take relatively low-paid positions in public health agencies and other government jobs because they do in fact care about helping people. No, no profession is perfect or all made up of saints. But to impugn the character of everyone in the medical profession is a grossly unfair generalization. Not to mention, the last 100 yrs have seen all sorts of medical advances: improvement of surgical techniques, vaccinations and the virtual elimination of contagious diseases that used to cause enormous infant mortality, successful organ transplants, and the imaging of the brain to better understand mental illnesses are just a few of what the medical profession has brought us in the last century.
Brian August 7th, 2003 | Link | It is my understanding that
It is my understanding that weight gain is a noted symptom of type II diabetes. As such, thinking of any weight loss as a treatment may be very wrong minded. Conversely, as with other conditions where weight gain is a noted symptom, weight loss is often the result of successful treatment. This should not lead to the conclusion that weight loss is, in and of itself, a sensible treatment of diabetes. Even if this is all many doctors will see AND a popular tool of fear for the diet industry. That weight loss has been seen in improvements with diabetics should not be interpreted to mean that the weight loss in and of itself should be persued. Indeed, such an avenue of treatment could put the health of diabetics at risk by ignoring methods of improving their health at the expense of persuing the treatment of a symptom rather than the condition which resulted in it. And you will note that LLW did NOT "impugne the motivation of everyone in the medical profession." Indeed, she was quite specific in stating otherwise so I should hope defense be made for something that was never said to begin with. You are in error if you read such into her post, and there was frankly no cause for such an error.
Patsy Nevins August 7th, 2003 | Link | I had eye surgeries 4 years
I had eye surgeries 4 years ago which saved my vision, but not laser surgery. I was extremely near-sighted all my life, then I developed hereditary cataracts, which seem to come along early in our family. I was almost totally blind, so I had two surgeries to remove the cataracts & do lens implants. I see better than I ever have in my life, without glasses now. But that is something VERY different from WLS, & I honestly do not believe that there is any justification for WLS, & I do believe that it is extremely dangerous, one of the two most dangerous types of surgery in existence, along with open heart surgery. I also have no problems understanding what LLW was talking about. There are some good doctors, some honest doctors, some doctors who care & mean well, as she admitted, but I freely admit to having a great general dislike & distrust of them as well, having had a number of very negative experiences from very early childhood. I have seen callousness, neglect, & downright incompetence in more than a few cases, & have only met a few who were honest enough to admit openly that they did not know everything & to concede that my body belongs to me, not the medical profession.
Adrienne August 7th, 2003 | Link | Brian: No, unexplained minor
Brian: No, unexplained minor weight loss is a frequent symptom of Type II diabetes, actually. And it's been known for a long, long time that losing weight (although usually not very much) can sometimes drastically increase insulin sensitivity and ameliorate diabetes. For some people, it makes their diabetes go away completely (I personally know someone for whom this was the case). Visceral fat is closely associated with insulin sensitivity and diabetes, so people who carry a lot of this type of fat are at highest risk for type II diabetes. Regular exercise helps to reduce the amount of visceral fat carried, btw. Of course, diabetics who have WLS to improve their diabetes are at a greater risk than ordinary WLS patients because diabetes makes would healing that much more difficult. So it's really a double-edged sword for them....probably more risky than normal for them to have the surgery. And if their diabetes returns or doesn't go away altogether, the rearranged digestive tract probably makes it that much harder for them to keep their carbohydrates and protein in balance (although I admit I don't know about that part -- I'm just speculating). Another concern would be things like internal bleeding that might not be too much of an issue for a non-diabetic patient but could be fatal for someone whose diabetes prevents internal wounds from healing normally.
Adrienne August 7th, 2003 | Link | Brian, LLW said, "We need
Brian, LLW said, "We need to remember that medicine is a profit-making corporate force. It's not a "helping profession," unless you count doctors helping *themselves* to BMWs and boats and second homes and high status in their communities." Yes, I would say that statement is impugning all people who work in the field of medicine. Although you're right, she was "generous" enough to admit that at least some doctors and other medical professionals have souls. How magnanimous of her. Patsy's take on medicine is much more balanced. Like Patsy, I've had some bad experiences with doctors too (what fat person hasn't), but I've also had some very good experiences. Doctors are human, and as such they have a wide range of motives for what they do as well as their own biases. I also happen to know some medical professionals who get mighty sick and tired of the accusations that they work just so they can pay for their (nonexistent) sports cars.
Andee Joyce August 7th, 2003 | Link | Not to veer too far OT, but
Not to veer too far OT, but if you want a sports car or a boat, there are much easier ways to get one than becoming a doctor. Like becoming...a hospital administrator. Or an insurance-company CEO. There's a reason more and more medical school graduates in this country hail from foreign countries: doctoring just isn't the draw for American kids that it once was. The profession now has the reputation, and deservedly so, of being way too much work and too much stress and too much debt and too many years of sleeplessness and abuse and having no life and being at the mercy of HMOs, to be worth it for anyone who's in it just for the money. Doctors also aren't as hot as they might once have been to talk patients into surgery they really don't need, for the most part, largely because of the hassles with the HMOs, malpractice insurance, etc. The people running the hospitals, OTOH, are another story. When it comes to WLS, I don't doubt that lots of hospitals see it as a "cash cow," if you'll pardon the expression. Many of them are hemorrhaging money, and an elective major surgery that an insurance company will approve is a dream come true for them...if they can look the other way ethically. But doctors are like anyone else in this society, in that a majority of them are lipophobic. A majority of people in ANY profession are lipophobic. My feeling about it is that most doctors, when they recommend WLS, are of one of two minds about it. Either they genuinely want to help their fat patients and are simply naive about WLS's potential dangers, or they're unreasonably disgusted by fat and want to stamp it out by any means necessary. In any case, they're probably motivated less by greed than by social indoctrination. Now, those sleaze bucket MDs who get kickbacks to push diet pills...they're another story. THAT you can easily chalk up to greed...which is really another word for fear, when you think about it. Actually, fear has a lot to do with all of this, doesn't it?
Brian August 7th, 2003 | Link | I would agree, Andee, about
I would agree, Andee, about the motivations of doctors recommending the surgery. And certainly, Carnie and Ann's employers are "health care" organizations, which have a more easily discernable financial stake. I do, however, suspect the surgeons performing the surgery are getting more of the money involved than normal doctors, and they are the ones who are the "experts" informing patients "fully". I think there is a cost motive involved in their approach to performing the surgery, although I would still suspect they were convinced they were doing the "right thing". Still, good intentions arne't worth much. Especially when based on the wildly negative assumpsions about fatness that are needed to justify WLS.
Olena August 7th, 2003 | Link | Omar, I apologize for
Omar, I apologize for hurting your feelings, I did not mean it as an offense to you: life makes us make different choices and they all should be respected. What I actually meant to say is that this surgery should not have been invented in the first place, then you would not be faced with the choice. The whole concept of mutilating an otherwise healthy organ for a reason yet doubtfull sounds like an atrocity to me. Again, no offense to people who found this operation an option or necessary for whatsoever reason.
Olena August 7th, 2003 | Link | Generally I do agree with
Generally I do agree with LLW, but the statement that all the people in medicine are after the "big buck" is not quite fair. I work in health care myself, my clients are mentally disabled and to be honest, my priority is seeing them happy and at peace with themselves, not with the "good" BMI's, though they do get a regular weigh in. And there are many more people like me. I can imagine though that LLW's statement is based on bitter experience, not on general hatred of those oh so greedy doctors. =)
Brian August 7th, 2003 | Link | But, Olena, LLW never made
But, Olena, LLW never made the statement that all people in medicine are after the "big buck". She never said anything really close. She pointed out the commercial nature of the medical industry and the profit motive which drives it. She was talking about the industry as a whole, and she took care to not simply refute the idea that all doctors are saints but also point out that she was not stating the reverse. She made a perfectly valid point, and the profit motive comes up much more often than any of us would like to believe. The indistinct ads for drugs she refers to scares me, as well, but I'm more scared at what the drug companies are doing behind the scenes to lobby doctors. It all seems wildly unseemly and unethical for an issue of such grave importance that it demands an attitude beyond reproach. Certainly, there are good and honest doctors out there, no one has said otherwise. But we mustn't sanctify the entire profession because there are elements which are frighteningly corrupt and which have had a negative impact on health care. The drug companies are certainly the best example as they far more often than not act against improving public health, but they are also not the only example. My reading of LLW's post was that she wished to point out that we cannot ascribe a universally positive and sainted motivation on doctors, and she did not continue on to state the reverse. And, as has been pointed out, even removing the profit motive, many doctors will still steadfastly believe some of the most negative assumpsions about fat people, often with disturbingly little evidence to support their universal and extreme condemnation of fat people. While this is true for many people of many professions, it is especially harmful from doctors and others in the health care industry for obvious reasons.
Patsy Nevins August 7th, 2003 | Link | That is so very true, Brian.
That is so very true, Brian. And, as I said, I DO agree with most of what LLW says, because I generally do not like doctors, & I certainly do not think that they are gods. One of my sisters is dead because a doctor, an anesthesiologist, was on call, & he went to a party & drank. My sister hemorrhaged, & needed an emergency D & C, he gave her too much anesthesia, & she slipped into a coma, to die 11 months later. I was told 23 years ago when I smashed my left kneecap that I didn't need to be as badly disabled as I am, or to have as serious a limp as I have, that my first surgery for the CP when I was 4 was as badly-botched a piece of "butchery" as my orthopedist had ever seen. As I said, I have encountered many less than competent doctors, many who didn't seem to care much about the patient, & of course many fatphobes. I used to chat online with a surgeon in North Carolina who told me that he became a surgeon so that he would not HAVE to develop a bedside manner or have any kind of ongoing relationship with patients, but could basically shuffle them in & out & be like a robosurgeon, doing his job. I would say, from what he told me about himself, he is an excellent surgeon in the technical sense, & of course he prefers that his patients live rather than die, too many deaths are very bad for his reputation & for business, but he doesn't want to be too personally involved, & he loves the money he makes & very comfortable lifestyle his profession affords him. Ironically, he loves big women, but is quite closeted about it, as he feels that is also bad for a doctor's public image. In fairness, I have to admit that the last doctor I went to said nothing about my weight, & he was quite civil with me, treated me as if I had a functioning brain, & was honest with me. I think that things like my 110/70 BP, resting heartrate of 60, & cholesterol count of 145 helped a lot too, as did my assertive attitude & my assurance that I was there for a check-up, not a diet. He admitted to me that fatphobia is basically TAUGHT in medical school, they don't keep up with or teach the latest research findings, & certainly no findings which are fat positive, & that the average doctor doesn't really know diddly about things like metabolism, genetics, or how it is quite possible to find two people who are matched for height, weight, race, gender, age, & activity level where one customarily eats twice what the other one does. Apparently one of the hardest things for most doctors to accept is that most fat people don't eat more or differently than most thin people, or that fat people CAN be fit, healthy, & live normal lives. The ones who do come to believe that do so because they care enough to bother to search deeper & learn more, often motivated by the perfectly normal, healthy fat people they meet in their practice. However, as he readily admitted, doctors with this enlightened attitude are a very small minority. I avoid the medical profession unless I absolutely have NO choice, because I dislike, distrust, & fear the medical profession, but I do know that there are some good people out there practicing medicine, & some who really do want to give their patients good care. I do understand where you are coming from, LLW, I come from very much the same place.
Olena August 7th, 2003 | Link | Brian, I did not intend to
Brian, I did not intend to say that all doctors are saints by the virtue of their profession, neither did I mean to point out that LLW is wrong (which she is not). I do want to make a point that as hurtful as it is when others make asumptions about fat people as the whole (good or bad), as inapropriate it is to judge someone just on their profession. There are lots of places where you can get all the hatred and misunderstanding pored upon you! This seemed to me like quite an accepting and tolerant discussion, would be nice to keep it that way. By the way, I am new here, so I would like to pay tribute to the founder and all the guests, you have kept it clean and healthy here. Really nice!
Charlotte August 7th, 2003 | Link | When I suggested WLS
When I suggested WLS becoming simple, I obviously was not referring to current techniques. I just mean to say that if you could CHOOSE HOW YOU LOOKED, would that set Fat Acceptance Forward? Or backwards? I'm talking long term here. Would we be happy in a world where everyone looks the same? Would people with the 'courage' to remain fat be looked upon as desirable? In a world where anyone can be thin, but not everyone can be fat, would the larger people, the rare people, be more desirable? The very EPITOME of fat-acceptance it would seem. There would certainly be ample oppurtunity for propre scientific study. Like all fads, the media will lash against it, with enough WLS, there will be horror stories, and it will fall into disrepute. Remember Phen-phen?
Olena August 7th, 2003 | Link | That is an interesting
That is an interesting question posed by Charlotte: What if we could chose the way we look? Maybe it is idealistic, but I think then there would be all kinds of people walking around and sizism would be non-existent. We have the freedom to think the way we want, and who wants to be a conformist thinker? We can dress the way we want and while some chose more standard clothing, others go for something unusual. And those choices are widely accepted, you don't hear people on the street yelling: you've got an ugly dress on or you're thinking dumb thoughts. But we can't chose the color of our skin, we can't chose our size or shape, we can't chose our sex-preferences: those are the things we get discriminated about. If it was a choice we made, there would be no shame to being fat or loving a fat person (Patsy, your surgeon-friend). It would be just accepted as a different choice. And would that be my ideal world.....
Omar August 7th, 2003 | Link | Olena - thank you for your
Olena - thank you for your comments and I agree with you ... this entire thread of conversation has been very interesting and informing. I can't help but wonder what would happen of people of ize took over research and medical care for other people of size. Although it is idealistic, I think that we might see and increase in care and compassion, as well as information and services that are designer to help or support our peers. But that's just me being idealistic ...
Brian August 7th, 2003 | Link | Olena, you misunderstand my
Olena, you misunderstand my post. I was pointing out that you were criticizing LLW for something she did *not* say. She was not judging people on the basis of their profession, and it is wrong to suggest that she did. No one should be prompted to defend an arguement they never made. You were mistaken if you read into LLW's any universal condemnation of doctors. Indeed, just as I said to Adrienne, there is no cause for making such a mistake. LLW was quite clear in the point she did make. Frankly, I don't like hypothetical discussions about what things would be like if we could choose to be thin. In the first place, such a world neither exists nor is on the horizon. More importantly, we *do* live in a world where the assumpsion of choice is made by many people. We may understand the the "choice" to be thin is no choice at all, but those who agressively demean and discriminate against fat people do not. The base their discrimination not on the concept that we are fundamentally differant, as with racism, but rather on the notion that we have chosen to live against their understanding of the world, much like homophobia. The illusion of choice is what validates the bigotry against fat people. Thusly, I could hardly see a reality of choice making much of a difference except to further stigmatize the people who choose to not alter their bodies design. Even in such a hypothetical, it would be improper to define the choice as one to be fat. Rather, the choice would be to become thin in defiance of the bodies natural make-up. As much as the illusion of fat by choice is used to discriminate and badger people today, this would only increase in a world where it was deemed we had a clearer choice to reject our bodies. The choice available to fat people would not be greatly differant than it is today. The choice would be to reject our natural bodies in favor of something else, or to accept who we are. I am fat by nature, proud by choice. That choice would not fundamentally change if the alternative actually was to become thin rather than simply to live my life in an doomed attempt to become thin. I should hope size acceptance today strives to present people with an alternative which is not resignation to their fat out of an inability to change, but rather a greater accetpance of who we are and an understanding the we are not the hopelessly unhealthy pariahs we are made out to be. That shouldn't be our outlook only if the supposed "choice" to be thin were a genuine one, although we should be mindful of the futility in dieting nonetheless as such misplaced expectations are a means of oppressing fat people.
Olena August 7th, 2003 | Link | Brian, I just re-read LLW's
Brian, I just re-read LLW's post and I still see in it some assumptions made over the medical world on the whole, but really, I think I should not be discussing it with you, but with LLW self. Seems fair to me. Our bodies are the way they are and should be accepted that way. I got mine just like you, from nature and had no choice. Just like you I am proud of it (learning to be anyway) and this is a choice. Though this is no hypothetical world, we still can live by principle we make and maybe, just maybe if we are strong enough others will see the whole fat thing as it really is -- rich variety presented by nature.
Patsy Nevins August 8th, 2003 | Link | Well stated, Olena. I am
Well stated, Olena. I am fat by nature, & proud by choice. I do pretty much agree with Brian's point, though, that if it ever WERE really a choice, & we COULD all choose to be thin should we want to do so, that the hatred & discrimination against fat people would be even greater. After all, we live in a culture where about 90% of the population (or so it seems) is convinced that thinner is better, thinner is healthier, on & on, ad nauseam, & we would be seen as being even more lacking in character, self-control, or concern for our well-being if we "chose" to remain fat. I "choose" to remain fat only in the sense that I choose to live fully & happily in my natural body, to enjoy good food & healthy exercise, to dress in clothes I like, & work on building a healthy body image instead of continuing to hate myself, deny my natural needs & appetites, & fight my biology. Contrary to what a lot of people want to believe, most of us do not really have the "choice" (over a long period of time) to get & remain thin, but we do have the choice to love ourselves & live as well & happily as is possible in the bodies we were given.
Charlotte August 8th, 2003 | Link | There is ample evidence that
There is ample evidence that the whole 'thin is in' craze is relatively recent in our society. It's a simple matter of numbers, the less attainable something is, the more people want it. If everyone was thin, then we'd want something else. The very fact that our society is 'fatter than ever' makes society value thinness, for it's simple rarity. Ideally we should be celebrating the variety that life hands us, and learning what we can from that variety. Fat people understand fat people, thin people understand thin people. Where's the bridge? It has to come from thin people who become fat (like me) or fat people who become thin. They're the only ones who can understand both sides. Brian, how do you hope to bring about fat acceptance if you refuse to have hypothetical discussions about a world that doesn't exist? Why not take (or discuss) radical approaches to Size Acceptance? Or are all the current methods working? I know I don't mind having stupid ideas. If I say or do something stupid, I like being told, that way I get to learn, and what's more, maybe plant a seed of thought in someone else who can use my stupid idea to spring forth a brilliant idea.

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