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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mean people suck

Forgive my juvenility, but some days, I get so fired up that I just can't use my words. And on those days, even I -- a trained journalist and word smith -- resort to using profanity and childish words like "stupid," "sucks" and "lame." So consider yourself warned as you read below.

Bariatric surgery is a wonderful gift to the morbidly obese. Those of us who have spent most of our lives fighting against our own bodies and the disease of obesity are eternally grateful to have the tool of surgical weight loss at our disposal. However, some of us take it to the extreme. They say there is no stronger believer than a convert -- and many of you will find that's very true when talking to bariatric post-ops.

Many post-ops are so excited to see the numbers on the scale go down almost effortlessly (which happens to everyone during the honeymoon phase) that they want to shout their success from the rooftops. Good for them. As someone who was morbidly obese almost her entire life, I understand the feelings of elation that come with seeing the pounds melt away. But that does not give us the right to judge others.

Just because surgery was the right answer for me does not make it the right answer for everyone else in the world. I wouldn't even dare ask someone if he or she has considered surgery -- it's not my business. If someone who knows me is considering surgical weight loss, they know they can talk to me about it. But I would never bring it up. In fact, I have to admit that I do not walk around in my daily life, surveying whether others should have bariatric surgery at all. It's really not my business nor my concern. It's enough work for me to worry about myself.

Why am I all hot and bothered by this topic? I'm tired of seeing other bariatric patients act cruelly or cluelessly toward those who still battle with obesity. I know they haven't forgotten what it's like to be locked in a prison of their own making. They haven't forgotten the shame, the depression or the embarassment...we never do. So why on earth do they say some of the stupid things they do? My only answer is that they are blinded by their own success.

I still remember the man in the Orchard Restaurant on Highway 132 in Vernalis who took it upon himself to suggest I have gastric-bypass surgery when I weighed about 280. I still want to punch that man in the teeth. I don't care if his heart was in the right place; he really had no right to judge someone he didn't know and tell them that the solution to his weight problem was the solution to theirs.

I have an aunt who has lost about 150 pounds through strict changes to her lifestyle. She had some health issues that severely limited what foods she could eat. As she tells it, eating whatever she wanted was no longer a comfortable choice. So she changed her eating habits, and the weight fell off. It was no easy task, but she did it. And like anyone else who has dropped a significant amount of body weight, she deserves praise and rewards for her accomplishments. However, it seems a group of her colleagues who are bariatric patients disagree.

One woman in the group asked my aunt how she lost her weight without benefit of surgery. My aunt replied, "I count calories. Right now, I'm eating about 1,200 a day."

Instead of congratulating my aunt on her willpower (like I would do) or saying nothing, this woman chose to insult my aunt by saying, "Oh my God! I would feel like a fat pig if I ate 1,200 calories a day!"

As my aunt told this story, which I could tell hurt her feelings, all I could think of was "Well, of course you would. You had surgery to limit the capacity of your stomach. You can't compare yourself to non-ops." But instead, I just told my aunt that her coworker was a mean, jealous woman who should be ignored. Because there is just no point in using logic with some people.

So, to the post-ops reading this: Please don't be like those I've mentioned. Never forget what it was like to be obese and treat people how you would have wanted to be treated.

And to the non-ops: Don't be afraid to speak your mind. If someone mentions gastric-bypass surgery to you, tell them it's none of their business. Because guess what? It's not.


Andrea said...

Yay for your aunt's success! And boo to her coworker. Some people need thier brains washed out with soap from time to time.

Tonya said...