Tuesday, February 28, 2012

my 600-lb life: Donald's Story (spoilers)

I'm so behind on blogging these; my grandma died and a whole bunch of other stuff happened in the past couple of weeks that has nothing to do with being overweight but everything to do with sucking up my time.
This is part of a long-term 4 part TLC series on morbidly obese people in the Houston area who went to the same doctor as the Half Ton Teen and had gastric bypass in 2004.  This one is on Donald Shelton--34 years old, 675 lbs.

He had to use one of those hover-round type wheelchairs just to get the mail. His legs are swollen and the skin is almost black.  I am terrified of my legs turning into that.  He lives with his parents who take care of him.  Doesn't seem like they are enabling him but not everyone has the same idea of what enabling means.
It didn't seem like he had to jump through any hoops to get his surgery, they didn't show him having to check in early to lose weight or anything.  After the surgery his legs still looked like giant swollen bruises...and they sent him home in only 4 days.
He lost 87 pounds in the first 4 months and wanted to go out dancing.  But he fell standing up off the couch and he had to take off his shoes and pants before he could get back up.  He was up walking around, and he danced, and he looked pretty cute for someone of his size--one of his female friend said the women would be all over him again in a year.  At 9 months in, he's down 240 pounds and he goes to a family wedding.  2 years out, he's down 303, and he fell and got hospitalized for weakness and ended up somehow in a coma. It turns out that he has a girlfriend who's a meth-head and he's been on crystal meth.  Then they figure out he's got something called Guillain-Barre, an auto-immune disorder that attacks the nervous system and can be fatal.  It ends up having nothing to do with the meth, but he still has to stay in the hospital even after he wakes up because he can't walk.  When the insurance company wants to move him 300 miles from hospital ICU to nursing home care, his family remodels the house to make a hospital room at home. 
At year 4, he's down 392 pounds since surgery, and he still can't walk from his auto-immune disease, and he looks unhealthy-skinny (like a sick person) and his mom feeds him junk food, tacos slathered with sour cream.  Literally feeds it to him as he seems partially paralyzed.  5 years in he's lost 466 lbs and hasn't walked in 2 years due to the other disease.  His legs are thin but still black-skinned.  Doctors said his muscles aren't that wasted but his nerves are messed up. and he ends up moving into a rehab place to gain strength.  He starts gaining weight and the doctor founds out that Donald's mother is feeding him multiple tacos per meal.  
He finds a girlfriend on the internet, she moves in with his mom, and he gains 100+ pounds in the next year.  He's still in a wheelchair.  His girlfriend dumps him and he gets up to 420 pounds.  His legs look even blacker.  He storms out on a meeting with his WLS doctor when the doctor tells him he should be walking and he shouldn't gave gained 200 pounds.  His wheelchair breaks under his vast weight.  He starts to be a really nasty person unfortunately.  He went to therapy place very much like I go to--the pool had the exact same design and edge.  He loses a little weight, down to 390 and tries to reunite with his ex (not the meth chick, the one who moved in).
So not quite a huge success, but not a total failure either.  Of the two shows I've seen so far, both people had significant re-gain of weight. 
When people ask me why I've never had surgery to lose weight, I tell them the truth--that I failed the psych exam.   But I'm not sure I would have gone through with it.  It seems like after the "honeymoon phase" of lots of weight loss it's back to the SSDD--same shit, different day.
(photo source)

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Thursday, February 02, 2012


I am ready to choke someone. Or, as my Southern friends say, "I'm fixin' to choke someone."
I've been going to the PCOS clinic at Yale for a few years.  The doctor there put me on 3 prescriptions--an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety, a diabetes drug (so I don't get diabetes--insulin resistance is part of PCOS), and a mega-dose of vitamins.   None of these drugs has any street value.  I don't think even the anti-depressant is addictive.
Last time I went to the clinic the doctor said that she only needs to see me once a year (not 3-4 times) and therefore she wanted to hand over the prescribing of my 3 medicines to my PCP.  My prescriptions all needed renewing around the first of the year, so in the beginning of December, I dropped off a list of my prescriptions to my PCP with a note explaining the situation.
It's February and I've been going back and forth as a completely ignored liaison between the two offices ever since.
PCP: we can't prescribe these, we haven't treated you for these conditions.  We need paperwork.
Me to Yale: Please send paperwork.
Yale: please fill out another release and fax it.
Me: I don't have a fax.  Can you email it.
Yale:  No, we'll mail it.
Me: I am almost out of anti-depressent and it clearly says not to stop taking it abruptly. Is there another way?
Yale: Go to PCP in person and fill it out there and have them fax.
Me: (Does that.  Waits.   Waits.  Waits.).
Me to PCP:  How about those prescriptions, eh?
PCP: Your doctor is on vacation.  No one else can write them because they weren't prescribed here. Call back after the holidays.
PCP: (in January) Yale didn't send the right paperwork. There are no reasons for giving you medicine.
Me to Yale: you didn't send the right paperwork. 
Yale: we sent your whole file.
Yale: Calm down.
Me: Are you not listening? I've run out of my anti-anxiety medicine that's why I'm NOT CALM. I stopped it abruptly exactly like you aren't supposed to!  Please help me!
Yale:  Okay we will call in a temporary prescription while this is straightened out.
Me: THANK YOU.   (finally takes anti-anxiety pills, feels better)  So can you PLEASE just send my PCP a simple piece of paper on letter head.  This drug, this dosage, this diagnosis.  Repeat as necessary.
Yale: OK.
(Now we come to this week.)
Me to PCP: How about those prescriptions, eh?
PCP:  Oh, after evaluation, we decided not to prescribe them to you.  You need to go see a third doctor to get them.  An endocrinologist.
Me: You mean, like the one at Yale that originally prescribed the meds?
PCP: One of our choosing.  And he can give you the new prescriptions if he agrees with Yale's diagnosis.
Me: (bangs phone repeatedly into head.)
Me to Yale:  HELP.  They want me to see a 3d doctor. Will not prescribe.  Please advise.
Yale:  Okay, we'll call in a year's prescriptions for you.
Me:  (Goes into the corner and weeps.)
I wish I could illustrate this like the Hyperbole and a Half blog.  I've been made to feel like I'm a junkie trying to get a fix.  Really?  Diabetes medicine and mega vitamins?  The PCP didn't come right out and SAY it but it was strongly implied.  I'm FAT, people.  If I was a junkie I'd be THIN. 
Follow-up:  the Yale doctor sent me a very nice email (I never talked to her directly, only assistants, etc) apologizing "that routine care has been made into an issue!" and promising to keep up with prescribing to me. 

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

600 pound life part 1 Melissa (spoilers)

from the Daily Mail article (linked below)
I'm watching My 600-lb Life on TLC. This is a 4 part series about 4 very obese people who had weight loss surgery 7 years ago. The fires episode is Melissa Morris, 31, 653 lbs. My god, just typing that makes me want to cry.  Since she could walk (HOW?) she believed she "didn't have a weight problem" although she used a scooter to shop, and she couldn't maneuver through aisles between her personal bulk and the scooter.  People openly insulted her as if she was deaf as well as fat.  Doctors wanted her to lose 100 lbs to even have surgery--supposedly in 2004 the upper limit was 350.  I tried to get surgery around then, and I was 364 pounds, so was I too fat? (I got denied anyway so a moot point, I guess.)
Her bariatric surgery, Dr Nowzaradan,  is the same one that did the half-ton boy, so he's got experience (or maybe she predated him, not sure).  She was given a 5% chance of success. She says her husband had to wash her and wipe her because she couldn't do it before her surgery.  In the first 3.5 months she lost 140 lbs (or maybe 6 months, it's not clear, they say both time spans).  She does say that the surgery doesn't fix cravings, the habits of eating food when upset.  She has a giant purse (suitcase size) that she literally hides behind, and she carries deodorant and perfume with her because she says she always smells bad no matter how much she showers.
I worry about that but everyone says I don't smell (even when I think I do) so I really don't know.
When she's over 400 lbs, she buys two seats on the plane and is embarrassed. Hell if I could afford it I'd always buy 3 airplane seats for my husband and I, I hate being cramped and we're both fat-asses anyway.  We've done it for concerts (where tickets are $50 not $500).
When she'd lost 200 lbs, she had her extra skin removed.  She showed it before--my husband remarked "she's got balls" and honestly, it did look like that--dark and wrinkly and hanging between her legs.  I don't blame her for wanting it gone.  I don't know if that was her stomach or what that looked like that, but yeah, it was nasty.   He took 60 POUNDS of skin off her. (It went to help burn victims, yay!  Hate it when it's wasted.)
When she'd lost over 300 lbs, she wears a pair of jeans.  I love my stretch jeans, I feel so skinny even though I'm not (although someone complimented me yesterday when I was wearing them), and she got her driver's license.
Her waist went from 120" to 48" (after her extra skin).  I'm jealous, I'm not sure MY waist is 48 inches.  Her BMI was 113 when she started.  And from the discussions she had with her husband it seems like he might have been a bit of a feeder.  Their relationship seemed off and combative when she got closer to her goals.  Seems like there was a lot of co-dependency going on, he liked her being dependent on him--he went from caring for a sick dad to caring for a morbidly obese wife.
She had another skin removal surgery (butt and thighs), 18 more pounds which took her to under 300 lbs.  After that, she tried so hard to lose weight that she got malnourished.  You can't starve yourself when you have a giant wound.  (I once asked a bariatic surgeon why they don't do the tummy tuck at the same time as the WLS and he said "because you would die"--you couldn't eat enough after WLS to heal from both surgeries.)  She ended up spending over 2 months in the hospital because she was walking funny and couldn't heal--she still walked as if she was really fat.   IMHO, she needed physical therapy to teach her to move in her new body and probably some sort of intensive clinical body work to adjust her spine and hips and all the alignments that must have been screwed up from years of super morbid obesity and limited mobility.   Maybe she got it, I don't know, they don't say.
Four years out, she got down to 160 lbs.  I'm so jealous.  If I woke up and I weighed that, I'd do a happy dance.  And she got a job working with incoming WLS patients--she's actually the one who talked to half ton teen Billy!   Later her doctor said she's 5-10 lbs UNDERWEIGHT.  Her skin is still horrible--wrinkled and saggy and scarred. (I hope she shows THAT during her support meetings--it's something that I don't think many people going for WLS know about, or think about.)
She achieved her goal and got pregnant 5 years out, but lost the baby.  Then she found out that her husband was basically cheating on her--that when she had her initial surgery he was chatting up another obese WLS patient for a future booty call, and he'd been doing the same online.  But for whatever reason she stayed with him and got pregnant a year later--and had gained weight, back up to 206 lbs and beyond, finally having a tiny 5-lb baby girl by c-section.  At the end, she's at 214 lbs with a toddler, although the article linked below says she's at 170.  (But the Daily Mail isn't know for its reporting accuracy.)  Her husband continued to be a horndog and cheated on her but sway.he stayed with him any

"The surgery's not going to give you happiness.  You have to get the happiness from yourself."--Melissa Martin

I find these stories way more inspiring than The Biggest Loser.  They are more real, if that makes any sense.  One person and his/her family, going at it alone after the surgery.  Although TBL people have better bodies at the end of their journey, it's not something most people can emulate. I'm trying--I only get in about 9-10 hours a week of exercise and I feel burned out. 

There's a whole story about Melissa here with pictures.  Unfortunately I couldn't screen print it (too big of a page, I think).

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