Sunday, January 18, 2009

Total Frustration

I received a phone call yesterday from my mom... she was really concerned about my aunt. My aunt is extremely obese for her frame. I think her BMI is somewhere close to 60 (if you need a reference, obesity starts at a BMI of 30). Anyway, throughout her life, she's had her ups and downs with her weight. About four or five years ago, she got down to a healthy weight, but unfortunately, a series of surgeries plus quitting smoking has made her bounce back up in her weight, making her get to her highest weight ever. I've tried to help her, especially since my own BMI was about 45 when I started losing weight, but her response to everything is that it may have worked for me, but I'm younger than her, I exercise, etc.

So, my mom calls me yesterday to tell me that my aunt went to her family doctor for a check up and that, in response to her weight gain, her doctor said, "Well, there's nothing else we can do for you. You should go get a lap band or gastric bypass surgery. That's the only way you'll lose weight." And like my mom, I was FURIOUS at this doctor. How can you tell someone that's the ONLY way they'll lose weight? I'm not saying that my aunt gained weight out of the blue. Obviously there are things that contributed to her gaining weight, including her own bad habits. But for a doctor to have this defeatist attitude, that this "quick fix" of gastric bypass will solve all my aunt's problems... it disgusts me. Gastric bypass is a last resort for many people. But before you get to this point, you try things: why not send her to a nutritionist or even a therapist to talk through her food issues? Why is it this "all or nothing" attitude?

I admit that when I was tipping the scales at 230 (I think closer to 240 if we're being honest... I never weighed myself when I was really heavy), I thought about how I would never be able to lose that weight. That I would probably just keep getting bigger and bigger. How I would never be able to have kids, because how could my body handle being a 300 pound pregnant lady? Once in a while, the idea of a lap band or gastric bypass would find its way in my mind. But finally, I got to the point where something in me snapped. I didn't want to live life as an obese American. I wanted to be thin, healthy, and to be able to shop in stores that weren't called "Lane Bryant".

But I think all of us who have been on this weight loss journey experienced this kind of epiphany, something that made us start eating better and moving our bodies. What happens when someone doesn't reach that point? What can we do to get them there? Unfortunately, I'm finding out the hard way that you can't do anything. I've tried with my aunt, I've actually written down what I eat and what I avoid for her (there is no magic recipe, but this is what works for me), I've encouraged her to not give up (which is SO important)... but I am so frustrated. It makes me sad to know that she's seriously considering some form of gastric bypass even though she was completely against the surgery for many years. I'm not saying gastric bypass is bad. It's a surgery, and like any surgery, there are possible issues. I'm concerned about her getting through the surgery, possible complications, etc. I just wish she wouldn't give up so easily on other methods of weight loss that don't involve anesthesia.


c said...

I would be so upset too! I was actually just reading through some of my old posts to inspire myself that there was a time when I understood what losing weight and getting healthy involved. I really wish I was able to get back to that moment NOW. I think I had reached a breaking point where I did not want to gain anymore weight because I felt miserable about myself. I'm getting there again as I'm finally realizing these pounds I've gained are on my body again.

I wish I had some good advice for you to help her. But that is the problem too, only we can decide when we want to be helped.

Cammy said...

I'm surprised the doctor would recommend the surgery for someone who's (apparently) not trying to lose weight. These surgeries aren't some magical spell that allow people to eat what they want, when they want, and in quantities they want. The aftermath isn't pleasant and it requires a tremendous amount of effort and commitment from the patient. I hope if she pursues it that they'll do some counseling beforehand.

I think most of us in the "eligble" range of gastric bypass considered it, even if for a moment. Once you start factoring in all the risks and the post-surgery requirements, most of us decide we'd rather just exercise, eat healthy and hope that works.

Angie Eats Peace said...

I am really disappointed that a Dr. would say that!

Donna B said...

I have been hearing many people that have lost weight through eating properly have dealings with docotors and individuls who think weight loss surgery is the answer. On The Biggest Loser this season, one of the men had surgery and gained all his weight back. He obviously never learned to eat correctly! My husband was over 400#'s last year, and after regular doctors appointments for years, his doctor finally brought it up. I am not defending the doctor, but I wonder if they "give up" on obese people that they see for years who don't make the changed necessary to lose weight. I know it took me needing meds for diabetes to lose the 67#'s I have lost last year, and now my husband is down 80#'s on his own and the doctor no longer mentions it. In the end, you still need to learn to eat the proper foods - no ifs, ands or buts! Unfortunately, most people resent you offering your success, I sure have learned that the hard way, and we don't bring up our weight loss unless someone asks. Good luck to YOU, for the changes you made, and hopefully your aunt will realize she needs to lose weight through changes in her food selection rather than surgery.