I debated a bit whether to post this, but decided to. When I started this particular job some year and a half ago I was pleasantly surprised to note that there were plenty of fat people around – safety in numbers, you know? And I was far from the fattest by any means. But where you find plenty of fat people, you find Biggest Loser competitions, you find dieters, and you find gastric bypass. Sometimes despite knowing the fact that you believe the surgery (even in your libertarian heart) ought to be outlawed except for all but the most extreme cases of people who are caught between a rock and a hard place and can’t even get out of bed (though that doesn’t mean the surgery will be a cure) your supervisor insists on spouting off to you about how great she sees other people doing with either diets or surgery. Even when said supervisor never succeeds in a diet herself; she internalizes every example of someone who has taken the cut or starved themselves thin and goes on and on about how it’s a cure for all “the sugar” and how “good” this or that one is being. Gag me.
Well this time, the first woman who actually made me feel comfortable here, both because she was very fat and because she is really very nice, has decided since her brief, once-in-a-lifetime romance crumbled, that she too has to undergo bypass. At first I didn’t get it; my supervisor said, “She’s going for a bypass,” and I thought something was wrong with her heart – I was shocked! This woman has no trouble walking except for some knee pain from various prior falls in her life, she’s over 50, she eats a fair-seeming amount of so-called healthy food, she doesn’t have any mobility issues, no heart problems, no lung problems – just a very large amount of fat from the waist down. And so-called pre-diabetes. You don’t even know she’s fat until she stands up, because her shoulders and face are small; she’s like the fattest-bottomed pear I’ve ever seen, and she looks good to me. She looks…healthy. She IS healthy.
My fear is that she will no longer remain healthy after such life-altering surgery.
Against all hope, when she mentioned it to me, I hopefully mentioned “So…are you getting the band?” (Please please please be getting the band.) Nope. “Because on the band you can cheat, and with the bypass it’s just one-time, it’s a done deal, there’s no going back, nothing you can do about it.” Do people hear themselves when they say things like this? Has she been informed that it can KILL her? Has she been informed that it’s supposed to be for *serious* health problems and she doesn’t have any? And then she gets nothing but encouragement from the people around her. Now I’m not going to say anything one way or the other except to hope for a good recovery – but there is no real recovery from surgery designed to create within you a disability and malnutrition, is there?
I am afraid she will possibly turn to substances, if indeed she uses food for comfort (who doesn’t?) as so many surgery candidates do. I am afraid that she will get rickets or any one of those other hideous malnutrition diseases or, God forbid, as happens frequently, they simply cut a little too much, you go bald and shrivel away and die over the course of a year, only they can’t attribute it to the surgery anymore. I’m afraid she is going to wreck her healthy glow and her cheerful disposition.
Am I afraid that I’ll be one of the fattest women in the place? No. I have a feeling she will not even get down to my size before the first year is up and she’s not the only fat person by a longshot. But I’m uncomfortable with how this surgery has been portrayed in this establishment, how many people have undergone it, and how many are held up as having done so well. I don’t want her to be an example, do I? Well, no. I don’t fucking know how to feel about it because of that, and frankly, I don’t want to keep thinking about it right now. It’s enough to make a person go on a diet, isn’t it? (Well, no.)