STORIES BEHIND BYPASS SURGERY ON 'BIG MEDICINE'
January 9, 2008 -- ONE benefit of the writers' strike is that people seem to be turning more and more to shows and events on TV that we all know we should watch, but just don't - not when there's the opportunity to watch something easy and brainless, instead.
In fact, now's a great time to get a look at some of the brain-food shows you always meant to watch but just never got around to doing.
Take "Big Medicine" on TLC. When I first heard the name, I thought it was a show about the big drug companies. But, instead, it's a show about morbidly-obese people and the doctors who treat them. And one viewing has done for me what all the diets and Weight Watchers never did: I may never eat again!
It's really fascinating to watch, not just the docs, but the people who actually eat themselves into the - yes! - 1,000-pound category.
Each show follows several obese people who apply to enter Houston's Methodist Weight Management Center. The center (and the show) takes patients from initial counseling to bypass surgery and plastic surgery, if they qualify and are deemed both physically and psychologically ready to handle the surgery.
The medical team includes father and son bariatric surgeons, Robert and Garth Davis, Mary Jo Rapini, the team's psychologist, as well as two plastic surgeons, Dr. John Lo Monico and Dr. Norman Rappaport.
The plastic surgeons are usually necessary after someone loses 100 pounds or more to remove the giant masses of loose hanging skin that used to be filled with fat. Rapini finds out how - and why - they got so big to begin with, and their stories are half the battle.
On tonight's riveting show, the patients include Allen, a 27-year-old man who has lost nearly (are you ready?) 500 pounds. You'd think he'd be down to skin and bones but, in fact, he's down to fat and fat. He's still 500 pounds. Yes, he weighed 1,000 pounds at one point. Post-bypass surgery, his sagging breasts alone weigh 60 pounds, and so he must have a mastectomy. He hasn't been out of bed in seven years and now, because his breasts are so long that they reach his back when he's lying down, he can't maneuver standing up.
Then there's Vanessa, who gained 120 pounds during the year her husband was deployed to Korea in the Army, and Rachel, who weighed 350 pounds when she married her thin, soccer-playing husband.
Yes, you may have to turn away during the bypass surgeries and the cosmetic surgeries, but, for sure, you won't turn away and head to the fridge. After one viewing, you may, like me, swear off anything that isn't a carrot or at least made with seven whole grains and looks like a catcher's mitt (i.e. good for you) ever again.