General chatter - Big Medicine, Inside Brookhaven Obesity Clinic

07-24-2007, 07:51 AM
I've been watching both for several weeks now (Monday nights on TLC). I have mixed feelings about obesity shows and reality shows in general, because so often there's as much exploitainment as edutainment. I've added the 'tainment ending on both, as I never forget that entertainment is the first motive (without it there is no show).

What really hit home to me, is that both shows have featured patients who have been smaller at their starting weights than I was at my highest. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I've been oblivious to the fact that I am really, really fat. I'm on disability for health problems that have been worsened, if not directly caused by my weight, and yet I don't think I've ever realized how close I came, and could come to being housebound and helpless like some of these patients.

Tonight on Inside Brookhaven..., they featured a lady who was about 20 lbs under my highest weight. She lived in a second floor apartment and couldn't walk well enough to leave the apartment. She spoke of being stuck on the toilet for 2 hours waiting for one of her sons to come home, because she couldn't get up off of the toilet herself.

She seemed proportionally much larger than I've ever been, so I'm assuming she's either very short, or I'm underestimating my size at my highest. Regardless, the show made me realize how vulnerable I am (and my husband as well) to becoming helpless. I've always been fat, but I've always been very independent. In many ways, burning the candle at both ends contributed to both my weight and becoming disabled. Taking care of myself was always the lowest priority. I guess I thought I had to prove to the world that I was not lazy, and always worked two or more jobs or a combination of jobs/school. Sleep deprivation, poor eating habits, and overwork burnt me out, and at a high rate of speed because of my weight.

I didn't realize how much the disability has eroded my self esteem. I've always considered myself to be confident and optimistic, even during hard times, but I don't think I realize how much of a person's identity is wrapped up in what they can do. Not being able to work, hasn't made me feel worthless, but it has made me feel worth less. I realized tonight that becoming helpless would be devastating emotionally and physically.

Obviously, it could happen to anyone at any time. A car accident could cripple the healthiest person to the point that they have to rely on others for the simplest need. I guess it really hit home how hard I really have to work, and how committed I really have to be in order to reduce the odds of such a fate. I thought it was embarassing to have to buy a shower chair, I can't imagine needing help going to the bathroom.

07-24-2007, 11:48 AM
Colleen you just keep on doing good and I'm confident that you will succeed.

07-24-2007, 11:53 AM
I watch these shows, also. I TIVO them every week. I thought it was just me. I found last night story very sad. I can't believe her insurance thought she was well enough to go home. And with her sons... I like that the Brookhaven people gave the sons a diet plan too.

What about the wife of the 700lb man? She's in some serious denial.

kaplods: You seem to be doing well. You are on your way! You can do it.

07-24-2007, 12:36 PM
Colleen my heart goes out to you. I am also on disability and you couldn't have said it better."Not being able to work, hasn't made me feel worthless, but it has made me feel worth less". I feel the exact same way. I have chronic liver disease and my health was so disastrously affected by my obesity. I've now lost the weight, but still can't work due to my liver.

I see people everyday that were my starting wt. or higher that didn't have near the obesity related illness that I had. I know all about using a shower chair, having my DH help bathe me, having to send my kids to get the mail cause I couldn't walk that far, Having to keep a chair beside my bed to be able to pull on to lift myself up, having to send DH or kids to buy the groceries, not being able to go shopping without feeling like I'd pass out, the stares from others if I used a handicapped parking spot or a motorized scooter, being too sick to go to my kids school activities., having to have the teacher come to the school office for my parent-teacher conference cause I couldn't walk the length of the hallway to make it to the classroom, skipping my son's football games cause I couldn't make it up the bleachers to sit down. I'm sure there were many, many others things I can't recall at this time.

Wt. affects people so differently. I've seen so many times on here that "you have to lose wt. for yourself, no one can make you lose it". To some extent this is true. But, unlike many others, the kick in the pants from my Dr. certainly got me to realize that I wasn't gonna live long if I didn't lose this wt. Now to me, that was incentive enough to lose the weight. Deep down, I knew the excess wt. was causing some of my major health problems, I just couldn't face it until he so bluntly spelled it out for me.

I wish you the very best with your wt. loss success and hope this show can help you to further your determination and make your resolve even stronger to improve your health.

07-24-2007, 02:28 PM

You've definitely been an inspiration. And you're so right about the weight affecting people differently. I've been fat nearly all of my life, and it wasn't a highlight of my life, but it didn't really stop me from doing most of what I wanted to do (except I never went horseback riding, because my family had me convinced, when I weighed a little over 200 lbs, that I would hurt the horse - they were "only joking," but at 11 - 12 I took them seriously. It didn't dawn on me that an adult man would weigh about what I did and could ride a horse without hurting it). I had a lot of friends, and didn't worry too much about boyfriends, as I knew I'd find the right guy for me when the time came (and I had just enough male attention to never have felt desperate for it - my younger thin, very shy sister has had more trouble dating than I ever did). It wasn't until I was in my mid 30's that I started to be slowed down by my weight.

Well, the past doesn't matter anyway, but I think that I've spent so many years seeing my weight as only a minor barrier, I have a hard time being as diligent and as focused as I should. For this week, I've actually given myself an "assignment" to review an article, book or television show on obesity in my journal, almost like a "book report."

and have made charts to log my progress in my food choices, weight loss, and exercise.

So often when I was working I said how "easy" it would be to lose weight, if I had the time to devote my whole life to it. Well, I've been on disability two years, and have only lost 40 lbs. Geez, that's only 20 lbs a year. But then again, there's alot I can do now, that I couldn't do 2 years ago. Like shower without the chair, wash my hair without pain, breathe at night (no more sleep apnea), shop at Walmart (I'm exhausted afterward, but I can do it), tie my shoes without getting dizzy...

I definitely have alot to be thankful for

07-24-2007, 02:29 PM
Wow, Colleen, thanks for the post. It is an interesting read and I can relate to some of what you say. I know that when I watch that show, I can see how delicate the balance is, getting to the point where you can't function because of weight. Even though I am fat, I am very active. I know that it would be a heck of a lot easier if I would lose my weight!

But you are so right that it isn't necessarily the weight that could place you on disability. I've seen it happen to my very thin MIL. Kind of scary to me to need help just doing the basics of life.

Anyway, Colleen, you're doing great and I wish you the best!

07-24-2007, 02:45 PM
Colleen, I know what you mean about seeing the wt. as a "minor barrier". Until I got really sick with pneumonia and almost died (and took over a yr. to recuperate), I didn't think my wt. was that much of an issue. Even though I was over 200 lbs., I didn't feel like it was holding me back all that much. Of course, I didn't like being seen in a swimsuit, but that wasn't enough incentive to lose wt. LOL. But, when the shortness of breath, dangerously high blood pressure, Asthma, Diabetes, Tachycardia and Congestive Heart Failure started, it became dang serious. I know there are many, many, many people in this world that don't have the problems that I had at the wt. I was. I had to begin to see myself as "different" and not so "lucky". I had to face it, although I didn't want to. Life just isn't fair.

Collen, 40 lbs. lost and kept off is a wonderful achievement. I'm sure that has helped your health. It's great that you are now able to do more things than before and not having the sleep apnea now is a great reward.

Your plan sounds good and I know you can do this. If there is anything I can ever do to help just let me know. I live here, BTW, so I'm easy to reach. LOL.

I hear you on the tying the shoes. I used to have my DH or DD tie my shoes and paint my toenails.

I don't know if you live in a house or an apartment. But, one of my first things I did to increase my self esteem was started planting flowers and weeding my flower beds. This was when I still had to sit down to do anything at all. Just the getting outside and feeling like I was "part of life" helped. I gradually increased to planting shrubs/ hedges and this yr. planted my first real garden. This type of things makes me feel like I have a purpose and am doing something useful to occupy my time. I do get bored now with being home so much. The more I was outside, the more my neigbors would walk over and visit and it just made me feel less isolated.

Like you, I spent a lot of previous time with education and working as much as possible. In fact, too much. I wanted to be the best and have the best. I wanted to "prove" myself. Now I pride myself in having a nice, clean home. Have raised my kids well, cook healthy meals every day, keep a nice yard and garden and keep the fridge and cabinets full and pay the bills on time. Quite a different perspective than working 60 plus hrs. a week, eating junk, feeding my family junk, and just plain being too dang tired to focus on myself or my health.

07-31-2007, 02:18 PM
That Tiffany is going to back out of her surgery isn't she? I'm afraid she's gonna turn and go home before they even have a chance to work with her.

07-31-2007, 03:19 PM
This is so sad. This is why I hate "reality" shows even as I watch them. Tiffany picks up and moves to Houston - having never been on a diet, having never talked to local doctors, and not being able to afford the surgery (and apparently not even knowing that), and as a result may have to (and probably will) go home without surgery. The show acts like she just up and decided to move to Houston, all on her own, for no good reason, and they're just dealing with the "surprise" of it as best they can.

Shouldn't someone have filled her in? I mean, the film crew showed up at her door to catch it all on tape for the show. You can't tell me that no one knew this wasn't going to be as simple as she and her family thought. They either had to decieve the girl and her family, or tell her that things "might not" work out, but let her get her hopes up (or worse in my opinion told the family that it wasn't going to happen, but just play along).

Yikes! But you know, I'll still tune in next week to see what happens, just like everyone else watching the show.

As for Brookhaven, it looks like it's either not on anymore or they've changed the time slot. I'll have to do some looking.

08-07-2007, 08:14 AM
Yep, Tiffany was sent home, with Garth promising to try and find a local doctor who would work with her. The show did leave me wondering about the "reality" behind the reality (or should I just say unscripted) show.

Again it was stressed that Tiffany decided to just show up to Houston "on her own," as how Big D put it, implying that there had been no enticements or encouragement from the bariatric treatment center. Um, then how did the camera crew know to show up the day before she left Shreveport?

Garth at least says, "This is my fault," which doesn't make any sense at all unless you read between the lines, and realize that there might have been some encouragement on their part for the girl to come to Houston. However, he says he didn't realize she was as big as she was, or that she didn't have the family support he was expecting, or the understanding of the processs. Mm, ok I'll buy that, I guess.

One thing that I thought was very weird, was that when Tiffany's cousin abandoned her, that the neighbors and apartment management people came in to take care of her. At first I thought, Wow how wonderful, and how fortunate to have such kind people to help a virtual stranger with such difficult needs. An then I thought, hey wait a minute, that's is kind of odd. Maybe I'm a little cynical, but her care has to require a lot of intimate contact (I mean they implied that she couldn't go to the bathroom or bathe herself). How many people would be comfortable just volunteering for something like that, and evil me thought, well maybe the enticement of being on television had something to do with it. I still think it was great that people pitched in, even if motives weren't entirely selfless, but it's one more chink out of the reality illusion.

I still find the show very compelling. In some ways, I think I went into psychology, because I find people's personal lives so fascinating. Don't get me wrong, I did want to help people, but I think my desire to help people was actually secondary to my inherent nosiness.

08-07-2007, 11:03 AM
I missed this thread when you first posted. I've never seen those shows.

Count me in as one who thought of my weight as not that serious with regard to my independence and health (it was major in many other ways).

Then, 2 summers ago, I fell down the stairs and really really hurt my coccyx. I have never been in so much pain. Lying down hurt. Sitting hurt. Going from sitting to standing was excruciating. Standing hurt the least, but it still hurt.

Although my weight was not necessarily a direct contributor to my fall (though, had I been in better shape, it might not have happened), as I lay around -- on my stomach -- in pain, it made me really think about what I had to look forward to as a morbidly obese person. My mobility was not going to improve dramatically if I kept going the way I was.

Although that event was one of my biggest catalysts, even alone it wasn't enough. Several other stars needed to align for me to try to tackle my weight, yet again. But I am ever so glad I did.

Who knew you could be grateful for falling down the stairs and being in such pain? :)

08-08-2007, 01:17 AM
I missed it. Darned evening shift. The episodes are all mixed up in my head. I see some new ones and then some reruns ... What's happening with the fella who hadn't even picked up his two pound dumbells yet? Was his name Mark?

08-16-2007, 11:25 AM
Did anyone catch the Brookhaven episode last night? I get it on the DHC channel.There is a repeat of the episode airing today the 16th at 1a.m. and the 8th at 3 p.m.

I have a comment about the guy named Terry ( I think thats his name). He made me extremely upset. He was pissed because the clinic was spending 8 grand on a custom wheelchair for him and it was taking to long?? His attitude stunk. He even said at one point "now I feel obligated to do something" What? Is that not the reason you are there? you dont have to be there. They did not have to spend the money on a chair just for you. And then to top it off he orders take out food and has it sent to the clinic. His comment was "if i go to a restaurant and do not like the food I would leave.My wife cooks better than this at home."Well, that might be one reason you are in the clinic. To learn how to eat right.

The Dr. at the clinic had had enough with the "cheaters" and separated them onto another floor. They all got mad at that.

That guys attitude just really made me mad.

08-28-2007, 01:17 PM
My DH and I have watched several episodes of this show and each time DH has the same question--how do these people afford to buy all the food (the cheaters)? Obviously they do not have jobs. I would imagine that they have some sort of insurance that is paying for them to live at Brookhaven for the years that they have been there (last night, one girl who was doing very well and losing and staying on track was informed her insurance would no longer cover her so she was going to have to leave. The main guy worked out the problem with the insurance company and she ended up staying.) Are they on disability? Is that where they get the money to buy endless delivery meals? But some of these folks have families--who is supporting them?

In one episode, there was a story about all the cheaters and how they were allowed to cheat because the management found it easier to allow them to cheat rather than to suppress it. But what I don't get is how they can be allowed to cheat for a couple of years and still afford to live there. If they aren't showing progress, then I don't think insurance should cover them. Just my opinion, but in these days of insurance companies refusing to pay for life-saving surgeries for some people, it just doesn't make sense that insurances should continue to pay for a program when the person isn't following the rules.

If in fact that these folks (or some of them) don't have private insurance, but instead are on medicaid, I would think that there would have to be some checks and balances (under medicaid) to make sure that these folks are getting better with the treatment. I used to work in a hospital, and sometimes would see REALLY sick individuals who were inhouse, but slowly improving, being cut off of medicaid because suddenly their symptoms no longer covered them by medicaid (only because they were getting BETTER). It's almost like the system was set up to allow people to NOT get better. Does that make sense? Oh, this is all going to lead to the need for medicaid reform, huh? Maybe I opened a can of worms.

08-28-2007, 01:31 PM
Nope, Allison, DH and I both asked the same kinds of questions.