I asked the doctor for a referral to a dietician. He offered me surgery.
Dude, I thought, I’m not that bad, surely. Does a size 20 actually need surgery? Are you crazy?
“No, thank you.” I said, appalled.
A relative-by-marriage of mine, let’s call her Doris, is highly morbidly obese. When I first met her she had a gastric band and was, well, let’s be polite and say ‘a woman of substance’, she may see this one day, after all. Until I met her I thought that one of them thar things lead to guaranteed, fast weight loss.
Doris taught me that it is possible to maintain, or even gain, weight with a gastric band. That it is possible to maintain bad eating habits, despite the nausea and vomiting that eating too much causes. That unless you really want to lose the weight, a gastric band is useless.
Doris had the band removed three years ago, while still morbidly obese, and I would not be lying to state that what ever weight she lost is back – and some. Now, the doctors want her to have a stomach bypass.
But you can get around a stomach bypass, too. The thumb-sized pouch you are left with can stretch, the staples creating said pouch can give, the oesophagus can stretch. Unless you really want to lose the weight, a bypass is useless.
The NHS is offering bariatric surgery to save money on treating other obesity-related problems. I wonder how much money would be saved if they treated the one key aspect of successful weight loss and maintenance – changing the way people think about food, and how they think of themselves.
Ultimately, fat needs to be burned, eating habits need to be changed and letting a knife-wielding surgeon loose on my system is not the way to go. If I lose 11lbs I’ll be below the BMI threshold for qualifying for surgery. So I think I’d rather eat properly and get moving. At the very least I could do without the scars.