Friday, January 31, 2014

thoughts on "My 600 lb Life"...

Has anyone see TLC's series My 600 lb Life?  It follows one year in the life of a weight loss surgery patient and they feature a new patient each week.  It chronicles their decision to have the surgery, the surgery itself, life afterwards, and their struggles and successes.  Many of these patients are so obese, they are bedridden. They usually have to lose weight before the surgery, sometimes complications, need physical therapy because they haven't walked in so long. and often have other surgeries afterwards, such as removal of lymphedema masses.  I like the show overall, but I don't think it really presents an accurate picture of what it's really like.  I guess it does from a 600 lb point of view, but it doesn't talk at all about the pre-op testing (sleep study, upper endoscopy, stress test, blood work, etc.), psychiatric evaluation and counseling, nutritional counseling, after-surgery support groups, and what the lifestyle is like afterwards.  It seems as though the patient makes the decision and then just goes and has the surgery.  I'm sure they go through more than that, but you wouldn't know it from watching the show and that's where I find fault with it.

The episode that aired last week followed Penny's journey.  This episode made me very frustrated.  Penny was bedridden, her husband unemployed, they had a small son, and they were living off her Disability money. She was fairly young, too.  In her 30s, I believe.  Prior to surgery she weighed 530 lbs. The doctor required her to lose some weight before surgery. She lost 40 lbs.  So, she had a gastric bypass and lost...nothing. Nothing in the entire year TLC followed her progress.  In fact, she gained weight.

So why did Penny not succeed?  Because she was a total "victim".  Nothing was her fault, the scales were wrong/broken (the HOSPITAL scales!), she wouldn't walk, and she refused to set goals because she said that guaranteed she would fail.  Her husband was a complete enabler. He would go out any buy any food she wanted.  The shopping list was all junk food and he admitted he knew he shouldn't buy the junk, but also knew he'd face Penny's wrath if he didn't.  A nutritionist came in to teach the family how to eat.  Also, a physical therapist came in to help get Penny walking again.  Neither worked.  I think the worst of it all, and the biggest reason she failed, is she seemed to believe that the surgery would magically fix everything and guarantee she would lose weight.   Penny didn't seem to realize or acknowledge that she would have to actually do some work by following the diet, exercising, and following up with the doctor.  It's dangerous to have that attitude.  That's not how it works.  Yes, it makes your stomach tiny so you can only eat so much at a time, but you can still eat in excess of the calories you need by grazing all day long.  And it was clear she was eating way more than she was supposed to, and eating the wrong foods.

I was really surprised that Penny was approved for weight loss surgery.  And I'm surprised a doctor would do this surgery given her mentality.  Her story is why I wonder what kind of pre-op work is done when patients appear on this show.  I had to have a psychiatric evaluation and meet with a counselor several times before I could be approved for surgery.  They want to make sure that you will follow through with the diet and do everything you're supposed to do in order to have success.  And, of course, want to address any mental health issues.  Maybe they did a psych eval and she totally snowed them.  I don't know.

Here's a link to the story:  Penny's story
Here's a link to an article about the backlash in response to her story:  Backlash


  1. Replies
    1. It was. Really frustrating, too, to those of us who have had the surgery. If I had that attitude I never would have made it through the psych eval and been approved by the surgeon. It just baffles me as to how she was able to get the surgery.

  2. She either had a Doctor who wasn't as through as yours or she wasn't honest with herself or the Dr. The psychiatric test should have been able to tell how negative she was in her thinking I should think. As for her husband shame on him for not supporting her and taking the easy way out so he wouldn't get shouted at.

    1. I was really amazed at these two people. She was in total denial and her husband totally agreed with her and was an enabler. There was a lot of backlash after this episode aired!