So this is a difficult blog post – as I am not quite sure how to articulate my feelings over it all.
I read an article and watched a TV show this week that prompted some pretty strong emotions in me…and, as I mention, I am not quite sure how to articulate them!
The article was about a ‘fat suit’ that the NHS encourage staff to wear. It gives the sensation – supposedly – of being 40st…so you feel how hard it is to sit comfortably, to get up, to lie down etc. You can read the full article here if you want to…but be warned…it will make you mad and sad!
The TV show was about a ‘Weight Loss Ward’ in which people were having weight loss surgery…it showed the process that you have to go through before being operated on, and some of the aftermath.
In terms of the article, I read it and was quite frustrated. Whilst I think that it is good for those working with the obese to have an understanding of how it feels, you can never truly understand until you live it…for a long time, not just the time it takes for you to get fed up wearing the suit and to rip the bloody thing off. Oh, how I have dreamed about a solution like that! A lot of the comments made by the reporter are a little naive and typical of someone – with no weight issue – writing about the obese…I rolled my eyes quite a lot whilst reading…which she would probably think is a decent form of exercise for a super morbidly obese person!
The cost of the suit is pretty expensive, and I wonder if the money would be better spent elsewhere. Does the return on the investment make it worthwhile? Or, as the reporter experienced, would you find that you have less empathy perhaps and begin to wonder why on earth would somebody continue to live like this? I have quoted a little of what she wrote below…
“My view, before I put the suit on, was that eating so much that you become too big to move constitutes a form of self-harm. Wearing the suit hasn’t changed that view, it has strengthened it. I feel more frustrated than ever about the problem of obesity. I am more convinced that becoming this obese must involve a serious mental and emotional illness that needs urgent psychiatric and medical intervention. Eating so much that you become barely able to move is surely as damaging a compulsion as abusing drugs. As such it requires drastic action — it cannot be the NHS’s job to help people remain this way by empathising and skirting around the issue. It is maddening that the staff at this hospital apparently do not have the training, resources and referral options to get these patients the help they need to tackle the underlying issues driving their eating disorders.”
I pretty much agree with what she has said. It is a serious issue and I do not think that a fat suit addresses this. Whilst I am sure that it helps from a mechanical perspective – to give an understanding as to why your patient might not be able to move in the way in which you would like them to – for me, it does nothing to address the psychological aspects of being morbidly obese. I am not sure that I would class myself as having needed ‘urgent psychiatric and medical intervention’ as all it took was a decent chat with a psychologist and the support of my Slimming World consultant and family…so no need to section me…which is kind of the vibe I got from reading that – but maybe I am over-sensitive?! Also…putting on a suit when you are a size 8 is slightly different to weight creeping on…a person who has suddenly become 40st would not have any inkling of the process and emotions and situations that occur with weight gain over a number of years.
So this article was playing on my mind. Especially as I am currently working on a project involving spend on obesity related interventions. Then there was the TV show.
This just seemed a little defeatist to me. The surgeons again were talking about surgery being the only option, and got incredibly excited when one man lost 4st in six months…I lost a stone in a week when I was at my biggest with little effort…so I felt that it was a little patronising in places – lots of places. This chap had been fitted with a gastric balloon which helped him lose that 4st…he was awaiting a full stomach operation.
It seemed that people were treated like children at times. They saw a dietitian who talked about portion control, and the surgeons…I didn’t see much about the psychological side of things though – but I cannot say that I was watching with my full attention as I got pretty pissed off in parts and didn’t want to watch!
What really annoyed me was a lady who decided not to stick to her pre-op diet…how can you play with the surgery like that? They are cutting you open and need to reduce the size of your liver to ensure access to the stomach…this is life and death stuff. But then again, so is eating your way to 43st+…so who am I to criticise?
I just felt as if there was too much reliance on surgery. They mentioned that people had been dieting and had exhausted every option…argh – it makes me so mad! Whilst I know that one approach does not work for all, and that there are surgery success stories, for me it just bought home how close I was to giving up and putting my life in the hands of the surgeons. Whilst I do not have an issue with those who lose weight with surgery – after all, they have turned their lives around and it is not an easy option – I feel incredibly proud that I have bucked the current trend and have done this on my own.
My real issue I guess – or maybe it’s a dilemma – is what is the answer? And I don’t think there is a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
I get frustrated when I see larger chairs in hospitals to make people comfortable – even though I rejoiced when I sat in one…as my legs weren’t all squashed. I get frustrated when I see adaptations being made to make life easier for the obese. If life gets too comfortable at that size, what impetus is there to change? And I know that this is an awful way to think.
I made sure that I had a comfy chair at home, but that was as far as it got. I never had outside help – a carer, as I see many people being given. I never used any mobility aids, or had my home adapted…as I feel that it would have made me resigned to that life.
I just don’t know – and I know that it sounds awful to say it – and I would never, ever begrudge anyone who has had these changes made…after all, you want and need to be comfortable. And if you are not in a comfortable place then how do you ready yourself for change? Losing weight is hard, and any comfort you can get – of the non-food variety – is good.
There has to be a balance somewhere though. The surgeons argue that the surgery saves money given the long term cost implications of being overweight. Yet the surgery I saw – and the care involved – cost £18,000…and I wonder how much psychological support that amount of money would buy. If the mind isn’t in the right place, then the surgery will fail in the long run too…or it will fail in the eyes of the patient who never reaches the weight they would like to…but the surgeon is happy as that person might only be obese instead of morbidly obese – which saves money.
It all seems to come down to money! I just wish it would come down to the best thing for the patient. The NHS is under such strain…£18,000 of psychological help goes a long way…and it could be group-based too. I don’t know…it makes me mad and sad!
So there we have it…maybe that reporter was right…maybe I do need ‘urgent psychiatric and medical intervention’ after all.
Please do not be offended by my ramblings – I am just trying to make sense of a very complex situation. As I said, I have no issues with those who choose surgery as their ‘fix’ – just as I chose Slimming World as my ‘fix’…they are both tough options. My real frustration sits with those who tout the fact that surgery is the only option, especially when I know so many who shunned it and have successfully lost weight without life-threatening surgery.
Anyway, I will move on – as I feel that I am digging a big inarticulate hole for myself!
Another challenge was completed today off my Summer 2013 list…the loop around Glen Nevis. Only a couple of miles, but I took it the wrong way around…or maybe the right way around…and ended up with a decent hill to walk up – so it definitely got the heart-rate up and stretched my legs. So that’s it for the planned walking this holiday. I am hoping to get a nice beach walk into tomorrow…but we shall see how I feel! Here are a couple of pictures…
Unfortunately, Mr WLB was in charge of the iPhone pictures today…he got none of the historical and mythical wishing stone, none of Ben Nevis, and none of the lovely woods we walked through…but hey ho…he can’t be perfect all of the time!
We then went and grabbed some supplies and lunch – which we ate in a scenic spot – in the car, as it was raining…
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast, with garlic and herb philli, rocket and cherry tomatoes (HEA and 2 x HEB).
An okay food day. I felt a bit ‘blurgh’ after brekkie…maybe garlic and herb philli and scrambled eggs is not a good combo! Lunch was just grabbed quickly whilst we were out and about. Dinner was a bit rubbish too…I forgot that we were away, so had no herb cupboard or tomato purée…so it had garlic, onions, mixed beans in tomato sauce, Quorn mince, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, carrots and an aubergine – it was a bit bland really. So I enjoyed my snacks this evening…the best food part of the day!
Exercise: My Glen Nevis walk.
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx