After getting screamed at by my liberal friends for doubting their doom and gloom predictions, one unavoidably oversized fact stuck in my slim, streamlined craw: People ARE getting fat. The average lifespan has been on a steady climb since we began recording it, but medical experts say this is about to change. They say diabetes and other stuff-your-face-related diseases will force the average lifespan into decline as soon as 2020. I hate Chicken Little hysteria but I gotta admit, there are a lot of morbidly obese people around. I just got back from a vacation that included South Carolina and Canada. Everywhere I went, I saw men and women with saddlebags of suet drooping off their shoulder blades, jiggling down onto the street from their Rascals like it ain’t no thang. It made me wonder: Is being a huge tub of lard even considered bad anymore? Do overweight kids still get teased in school? It is still unhealthy, right?
I don’t know much about these things and hate research almost as much as fat people hate exercise, so I called a relative who is one of America’s top transplant surgeons. He agreed to give me the skinny on obesity if I kept his good name out of it.
Taki’s Mag: So is it true? Are humans really about to stop living longer than the previous generation?
Oh, come off it. You really think it’s an “epidemic”?
Yes. Within the next ten years it’s going to be normal to see children with shorter lifespans than their parents.
You might be onto something. I was at an ER in upstate NY (long story), and I couldn’t believe the number of outrageously humongous people in there. The waiting room had three oversized chairs and they were all taken, so when the fourth 500-pounder walked in, he had to take a knee on the floor. He was so fat, however, it didn’t even look uncomfortable. His legs were like beanbag chairs.
Ten years ago, we’d have one gurney in the hospital that was oversized. It was made for someone who was around 300 pounds, and you almost never used it. Today, hospitals are using 300-pound gurneys as the normal one and have created custom beds that can handle 500 to 1,000 pounds. The problem with that is, you now have to extend the openings in all the doors. You need special tools to operate on them. The hidden costs go on and on.
Have you ever operated on a really gigantic person?
Yes, and it’s very difficult. You have to go through a lot of fat, and stitching them up afterwards is a challenge.
All right, I’m going to barf.
The problem with the sutures is, behind the skin there’s this open wall of split fat that is still trying to separate. Now the stitches on the outside are the only thing holding this gigantic wound shut. They can’t handle the pressure, so the skin will literally tear apart the sutures.
Ew. What about giving them lipo first?
I’ve tried that and had varying degrees of success. It’s very difficult to operate on these people because everything’s different, even the forceps you use to hold open an incision. They now have to be several inches deep. I’ve had to have custom tools made and I’ve known surgeons who have bought equipment from veterinarians because the tools they have simply can’t handle the depth.
Do you ever dry-heave when you operate?
What does it smell like when you cut it all open?
It’s not great. And it’s very greasy. It smells like burnt bacon in the room, because you have to burn through it to get to the organs.
How did we get here?
Well, when you look at processed food, it’s taking a large amount of calories and condensing them into this small volume. It’s also often packed with salt and/or sugar. People become addicted to it. They need to keep eating the same way a heroin addict needs to continue doing heroin.
I don’t buy that. We all eat plenty of junk food and we all know it’s bad. When it starts making us too fat, we stop. Why can’t they?
I’m telling you, it’s a chemical addiction.
Fuck that and fuck them. I say let them die. I’m a free-market guy. No bank is too big to fail and no person is too big to die.
So just tell them you’re not going to treat them?
Yes. At that ER, there was a woman who was so fat, her giant tits sat under her chin like a TV tray. She was maybe 35 and she was resting her Game Boy on her boobs while she played video games. At the same time, she was talking about her new baby to a friend and bitching about how the doctor promised these pills would take away her bedsores but the sores are still there, seeping.
She wasn’t talking about bedsores, but I know the wounds you’re talking about. They come from lack of circulation.
I don’t get why it’s the doctor’s job to deal with her holes. That’s not what he went to medical school for. Tell her to you’re not going to treat her until she loses 200 pounds.
First of all, if you refused to treat obese people, you would become obsolete. I’m not talking about losing money, though I’m sure that’s a factor with many physicians. I’m talking about practicing medicine in general. To not treat obese Americans today is to ignore about 60% of the population.
But to treat them is to enable their behavior.
What about when the patient you ignored comes in a few months later and now she’s having a heart attack? Do you just let her die on the floor in front of you?
I guess not. I guess you’d have to operate, but that would send a message to other fat people. “They don’t fix your sores anymore. They only help if you’re dying.” It could act as a deterrent.
Well, let’s ignore the obvious immorality of not treating a patient and focus on your “free market” analogy. It’s much cheaper to treat someone early and nip it in the bud than it is to let things get far worse. It’s better for the economy to treat them early.
Treat them how? Give them an electric shock every time they look at a Twinkie?
The only thing that’s been working so far is gastric bypasses.
Don’t they rip those out sometimes by overeating anyway?
Yes, they will expand the smaller stomach until it rips the enclosure off the bottom but for the most part, they work really well and patients end up leading a normal life.
So the only cost-effective thing to do is start kidnapping fat people and forcing them to have gastric-bypass surgery?
That is an impossible scenario but for the sake of argument, I would say doing that would save billions if not trillions of dollars in this country. It would also save the lifespan problem you’re talking about by ending the obesity epidemic and stopping this huge increase in diabetes.
I still say you should just let them die.
Yes, well, that’s why we lead slightly different lives.
What’s that supposed to mean? You’re a brilliant surgeon who makes millions of dollars saving thousands of lives and I’m some asshole who rants on the Internet about things I know nothing about?
You said it.
Categories: Health and Medicine