[1] The 70 stone man

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I’ve just finished watching part 1 of a 2 part documentary about a man in England who in 2012, weighed in at 70 stone. In order to qualify for bariatric surgery he was required to lose an x-amount of weight as well as be able to stand, before even being considered for the surgery which may save his life. If I heard correctly, he’d been immobile for a few years and bed ridden for the last 2. He was cared for by a sister who was also caring for their other sister, all under one roof.

Over a 12 month period, the man lost a whopping 20 stone. To weigh him, a special set of scales were brought in that were then set up behind the wheels at the head of his bed. The weight of the bed is already known so the bed gets pushed up onto a slight rise set of scales. I had to laugh at the situation – there’s these two, well, lets just say they were of a small build, making attempt after attempt to roll this mans bed (with him in it) onto these special scales. We got to see 5 attempts before they got the bed onto the scales. What I do not know, is how the mans weight is actually recorded – because they only mentioned in the doco that the front of the bed is raised up onto these scales.

He was also having intensive physiotherapy to get him on his feet. And this is what brings me to write here tonight. The man could get himself upright and onto the edge of his bed, however when he attempted to lift himself using the support of a padded frame he couldn’t manage it. He gave it 2-3 hefty attempts and his medical support team were there practically yelling encouragement at him. Thankfully one of the support team had the sense to tell him to stop.

The man broke down and howled. He covered his face and just howled. Every now and then he’d cry out “I can’t do it … I can’t do it”. Far out. His torment reduced me to tears and caused me to think about my own journey.

I visit Kaiwhakaora kai next Friday and considering at the last visit I was only 500 grams off of having lost 20 kg, I expect to have lost at least that.

The man in England had been unable to do any exercise during his 20 stone weight loss and this got me to thinking that I’ve barely done anything different in terms of exercise and have lost 20 kg. I think it’s time to step it up. I’m still too unwell on a respiratory level to be cleared by my GP to attend a gym. I can however walk lengths of the paddock closest to my place.

Before I became unwell this Winter, I was walking almost 1 km in 11-12 minutes at Pulmonary Rehab. Considering I was a lot lighter 10+ years ago and walking 4 kms in 40 minutes, so 1 km per 10 mins on average, I was doing great with my 11-12 minutes for 1 km. I couldn’t walk much more than the 1 km without having to sit. I’ll be glad when Pulmonary Rehab kicks off again next year. Still, in the meantime, I can walk the length of the paddock if not every day, at least every 2nd day. And maybe my Mrs Fluffy Bottoms will come out with me too.

The documentary episode came to a close with the man being taken to hospital. One of the mans surgeons said something I thought was profound: “if we wait for perfection, we will lose a patient”. The last time the man had been out of his house was 2005 and it took 8 Ambulance staff to ease the man out of his house. Not this time. Two Ambulance staff were able to get the man out of the house and into the specially prepared for obese patients Ambulance. A winch line is attached to the head end of the gurney and as that retracts it gently and slowly pulls the gurney up into the Ambulance.

I do know that South Auckland has 1 Ambulance geared up for the super obese.

In preparation for this mans hospital stay, major construction of a room in a ward had been under progress. Hoist tracks had been installed on the ceiling. A huge arsed chair (that was absolutely gorgeous) had been sourced. The room had been set up so he would have his privacy too. He was curtained off to unwanted attention from people walking by etc. And he was given a 2 week ultimatum to get on his feet or there could be no surgery.

He was immediately placed on a diet of milk. And that was it. He said he was required to drink 4 pints a day. There is 600mls to a pint and 1000mls to a litre. So the poor bugger was drinking 2.4L of milk a day, every day. ONE week later he had lost 17 kg.

One of the goals was to get the man into the huge arsed chair. He had not sat up in many years. His support crew got him into a hoist and gingerly they maneuvered him across his bed and into his chair. What a momentous moment for him, for his support crew, for all his viewers like myself we were cheering for him! The next step was to get him standing on his feet. So the hoist was used as a back up – this time to catch him if his legs gave out or if he just didn’t have the strength. He did it. He was wincing and in a lot of pain doing it and even just standing upright he was enduring a large amount of pain. The physio gave the man complete control of his experience and so waited until the man signaled that he was going to sit down and his support crew guided him into the chair with the hoist. I tell ya what, when the support crew stepped back, the man was glowing. Beaming even. He looked like he had just conquered Everest. He was on top of the world. He had found hope.

Unfortunately, his greatest care support person, his sister, was now sitting alone, in the house, in his room and not handling her feelings of redundancy. She said she felt so lost. She looked so bereft.

I’ve no idea whether the man makes it or not – like, does he survive the surgery and if so, will he survive the recovery and then the rigorous physical, mental and emotional challenges that lay ahead.

It’s time I ask Kaiwhakaora Kai if she has a plan – a way forward for me, in her mind, and if so I would like in on it and for us to discuss it. I was reminded watching the mans emotional responses, that it is imperative that I’m in control of my journey with weight.

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