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Supersize Me
Pulse Magazine ^ | 22 November 2013 | Edward Thompson

Posted on 02/27/2014 10:37:11 AM PST by iowamark

Donald is large. Very large.

At more than 600 pounds, he is a mountain of flesh with a small opening at the top through which he speaks.

"My stomach hurts," he says, his voice surprisingly high and childlike.

It is 10:00 pm in the emergency room, and I am already swamped with patients I'm trying to move through the ER before my shift is over.

Asked if he's ever felt this kind of pain before, Donald says, "No, never. At least, not like this."

"Well, what'd you expect?" the unit secretary mutters, only half to herself.

Donald is in his forties. He spends his days on the sofa at home, surviving on disability checks for his back pain.

Facing him, I feel momentarily put off. I'm not sure just where to start the examination, and when I begin, my hands look small and insignificant against the panorama of skin they're kneading.

It's hard to tell, exactly, but I think his pain is coming from somewhere around his stomach.

I call the surgeon. When he finds out how much Donald weighs, he says that he'll be down to see him "in a while."

Awaiting his arrival, we try to shoot some X-rays. When we roll Donald onto his side, though, he turns an unnatural shade of blue-gray and can't tolerate the position long enough for us to put the X-ray cassette behind his back.

We try a chest X-ray, turning up the power to the maximum setting. All we see is white. Donald's body is just too thick to allow standard X-rays to penetrate to the bones; he is a walking lead shield.

We start an IV and get some blood work, all of which is normal. Our standard GI cocktail of shot-in-the-dark digestive tonics plinks into Donald's stomach without any effect. Morphine at doses high enough to make me dance on tables merely makes him a bit drowsy.

I talk to Donald between procedures, trying to get a sense of him as a person. He recites a litany of consultants he's seen for his back pain, his headaches, a chronic rash on his ankles, his shortness of breath, his weakness, his insomnia and his fatigue.

"All of them have failed me," he says, adding that the EMS paramedics didn't have the proper ultra-wide, ultra-sturdy gurney to accommodate his body.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act says that they should have the proper equipment to handle me, the same as they do for anyone else," he says indignantly. "I'm entitled to that. I'll probably have to sue to get the care I really need."

I don't quite know how to respond, so I say nothing. We've placed Donald in a room with an oversize hospital bed, so at least he's resting comfortably.

Finally, we move an ultrasound machine into Donald's room--it barely fits between the bed and the wall--and the technician goes in to take some diagnostic images.

Minutes later, he emerges.

"I need to get the radiologist to help me," he says. "This is impossible."

One half-hour later, the chief of radiology comes out of the room, rings of sweat under his arms.

"I think we have something," he says. "A gallstone."

Elation surges through me. At last we have something to work with!

Paged again, the surgeon finally shows up, muttering, a full two hours after our initial conversation.

After examining Donald, he thinks for a bit, then brightens.

"We could send him to the University of Maryland--they have an oversize OR table and beds."

He's now a man on a mission: to unload Donald on another unsuspecting hospital.

Hours later, he learns that there's no room for Donald on the surgery wards of either the University of Maryland or Johns Hopkins. He must admit Donald to our hospital's upstairs ward until tomorrow, when he can try the transfer again.

The surgeon is most unhappy. He bellows orders over the phone at a nurse several floors above us.

"Don't put him in a room right over the ER," whispers the unit secretary to the admission clerk. "The floor won't support him--he'll come crashing through and kill us all."

Glancing across the hall at Donald, I see by his eyes that he's heard her comment, and I'm suddenly sure that he's heard all of the "side" remarks aimed his way.

Finally, a slew of huffing, puffing, grunting attendants wheel him down the hall, leaving me to reflect on his plight.

Donald lies at the very large center of his own world--a world in which all the surgery mankind has to offer cannot heal the real pain he suffers.

He's trapped in his own body like a prisoner in an enormous, fleshy castle; encircled by a moat of fat, he shouts from the parapets to anyone who might give him succor. And though he must feel wounded by the ER personnel's remarks, he seems to find his own succor in knowing that there's no comment so cutting that it can't be soothed by the balm of 8,000 calories per day.

Later on in my shift, still feeling the eldritch traces of Donald's presence, I sit and stare at my 700-calorie dinner, all appetite gone, wondering where empathy ends and compassion begins.

I know why my colleagues and I are so glad to have Donald out of the ER and stowed away upstairs: he's an oversize mirror, reminding us of our own excesses. It's easier to look away and joke at his expense than it is to peer into his eyes and see our own appetites staring back.

I push the food around on my plate, then give up and head back to the ER, ready to see more patients.

Though I've no way of knowing it, within a few months a crane will hoist Donald's body through a hole cut in the side of his house so the EMS personnel can lower Donald, found dead and alone in his upstairs bedroom, onto their new ultra-wide, ultra-sturdy gurney.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: obesity; supersizeme
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adapgted for Washington Post: A morbidly obese patient tests the limits of a doctor’s compassion
1 posted on 02/27/2014 10:37:11 AM PST by iowamark
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To: iowamark
Someone in my Weight Watchers meeting once said, "It's hard to take control of what you're eating unless you understand what's eating you.
2 posted on 02/27/2014 10:41:43 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: iowamark

Why were they giving him 8000 calories a day?


3 posted on 02/27/2014 10:42:04 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: iowamark
When he finds out how much Donald weighs, he says that he'll be down to see him "in a while."

I'm on the thin side....last year in the pre-op area waiting to have my gallbladder yanked, the surgeon came by, lifted my "gown" for a quick peek, then turned to my wife and said, "I'm gonna have an easy day today!"

4 posted on 02/27/2014 10:42:20 AM PST by ErnBatavia (The 0baMao Experiment: Abject Failure)
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To: iowamark

He literally dug his grave with his teeth…………poor guy—must have had a very empty life.


5 posted on 02/27/2014 10:42:39 AM PST by basil (2ASisters.org)
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To: iowamark

Hmmm...I still fairly slim and I’ve yet to experience a doctor’s compassion - which is why I avoid them and have no paper trail for the government.


6 posted on 02/27/2014 10:43:08 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: iowamark
I talk to Donald between procedures, trying to get a sense of him as a person. He recites a litany of consultants he's seen for his back pain, his headaches, a chronic rash on his ankles, his shortness of breath, his weakness, his insomnia and his fatigue.

"All of them have failed me," he says, adding that the EMS paramedics didn't have the proper ultra-wide, ultra-sturdy gurney to accommodate his body.

Puh-leaze. The soltion is simple. Lose 400 pounds and all your problems will go away.

7 posted on 02/27/2014 10:44:54 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: iowamark
Just another example of the type of people ObamaCare is supposed to help. He knows all his rights under the ADA but doesn't know (or care) that the 8,000 calorie meals are what put him in and maintains him in this condition.

Compassion is one thing. Enabling is quite another.

8 posted on 02/27/2014 10:46:13 AM PST by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: miss marmelstein

Compassion is one thing. Rude and nastry is quite another.

I don’t need compassion when I’m in the ER. No matter what I weigh. But I’m betting these ER personnel have had enough burn-out that they are caustic and ugly with ALL their patients.


9 posted on 02/27/2014 10:50:38 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: iowamark

I’ll say it again, whoever is feeding these fatsos is committing a crime. In the good old days, not being able to move to get more food because you’re too fat was its own cure.


10 posted on 02/27/2014 10:51:33 AM PST by jiggyboy
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To: Responsibility2nd
The solution is simple.

Yes, that's true ... but it's not easy, and it's far out of the area of influence of an ER doctor.

Psychological damage manifests itself in many ways. Some are celebrated, such as the drive towards promiscuous sex. Many successful actors are the product of traumatic life experiences; there seems to be a correlation between skill in playing a role and a need to escape real life.

On the other hand, some manifestations, like obesity, are often treated with contempt and horror.

11 posted on 02/27/2014 10:52:44 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: iowamark

Donald had to have had a “feeder”, someone who gave him the 8000 per day diet, since he obviously couldn’t get out and shop or cook for himself.

THAT person is complicit in Donald’s death, as is Donald himself.

Let’s drop the PC rhetoric and assign blame where it should be.


12 posted on 02/27/2014 10:53:17 AM PST by COUNTrecount (There's no there there.)
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To: Responsibility2nd

I was bitten by a dog last year (my own!) and I must say everyone was nice to me in the ER. But then, for them, it was really a low-stress situation. And all the doctors gathered around to see an intern use a new instrument to saw off my wedding band since my hand had blown up. They were quite delighted with the results.

But this story seems to involve disgust on the part of health care workers. That’s sad.


13 posted on 02/27/2014 10:55:32 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: iowamark

There was a story here locally about a 500 lb high school freshman.

The amount of eating necessary to achieve that must be phenomenal, no?


14 posted on 02/27/2014 10:57:17 AM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: iowamark
"The Americans with Disabilities Act says that they should have the proper equipment to handle me, the same as they do for anyone else," he says indignantly. "I'm entitled to that. I'll probably have to sue to get the care I really need."

While I don't know his whole story (there are a few legitimate people with issues that cause obesity), I find it hard to feel much sympathy for him with comments like this, or when he's eating 8,000 calories per day. Even MREs don't have that much (cold weather rations have 4500 cals for the whole day)
15 posted on 02/27/2014 10:57:55 AM PST by Svartalfiar
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To: Tax-chick

I’ve been in theater for 30 years, and don’t buy into actors being particularly traumatized. They do tend to have empathy and imagination which lets them step into another person’s body and soul - well, if they are any good. Most actors are journeymen. It is generally the stars who get hooked on drugs, sex and mayhem.


16 posted on 02/27/2014 10:58:45 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Tax-chick

On the other hand, some manifestations, like obesity, are often treated with contempt and horror.

___________________________________________

Contempt and horror are wrong. Just as the ER people being snide and nasty. And as others have noted, someone is an enabler here. That person - as well as Donald himself - is the real enemy.


17 posted on 02/27/2014 10:59:13 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: miss marmelstein; Responsibility2nd

I was taken to the ER after an auto accident three years ago, and everyone was very polite. We use a corner Urgent Care clinic for emergencies in business hours, but when I said my neck hurt after the collision, off I had to go Uptown, unnngh.

While I was waiting, I asked the guy bleeding on a gurney across the hall, “Que paso, hombre?” and he said, “Ay, Mami! Cuchillo!”


18 posted on 02/27/2014 11:00:41 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: jiggyboy

Ah, we have an extreme case here and now we have the usual hate-on towards “fatsos” beginning.


19 posted on 02/27/2014 11:01:45 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Responsibility2nd

Donald was his own enemy, and the person who provided him such large amounts of food, when he could not access it himself, was also his enemy. However, Donald was not my enemy.


20 posted on 02/27/2014 11:02:05 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: Tax-chick

It’s the luck of the draw, I guess. My trouble with doctors has always been in private offices. Of course, I’ve only been in an ER twice.


21 posted on 02/27/2014 11:03:03 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: miss marmelstein
It is generally the stars who get hooked on drugs, sex and mayhem.

Maybe that's it. I'm not reading the biographies of the common career stage actor, but the big movie stars.

22 posted on 02/27/2014 11:03:47 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: Tax-chick

That’s a nice thing to say. He wasn’t my enemy either. Just a pathetic soul, God rest him.


23 posted on 02/27/2014 11:03:52 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Tax-chick

Eeho. There is no privacy in the ER is there. Or pre-op either.


24 posted on 02/27/2014 11:04:12 AM PST by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
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To: miss marmelstein

Part of that “disgust” is the frustration that the patient won’t fit into or onto any of the diagnostic machines, making a diagnosis very difficult and treatment more so. The solution is obvious (weight loss) but not easy and completely out of control of the medical staff.

All the while, knowing that they can face lawsuits as a result.

It’s actually a sad story about a sad man that can’t be helped by the marvels of medical technology.


25 posted on 02/27/2014 11:05:44 AM PST by Valpal1 (If the police can t solve a problem with violence, they ll find a way to fix it with brute force)
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To: miss marmelstein
I’ve yet to experience a doctor’s compassion

Surgeons are not paid to be compassionate. They are paid to be competent.

26 posted on 02/27/2014 11:06:20 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: miss marmelstein

I’ve been fortunate with doctors. I don’t look for “compassion” - although it sometimes happens anyway. Basic civility is enough; genuine friendliness is a bonus.

Punctuality would be great, but ... oh, well.


27 posted on 02/27/2014 11:08:23 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: miss marmelstein
an intern use a new instrument to saw off my wedding band

To bad they didn't know How To Remove a Ring From a Swollen Finger.

28 posted on 02/27/2014 11:09:15 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: miss marmelstein

The extreme case here is what I commented on, yes.


29 posted on 02/27/2014 11:09:45 AM PST by jiggyboy
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To: miss marmelstein

I think I get through life better seeing other people as fellow-strugglers, rather than enemies.


30 posted on 02/27/2014 11:10:02 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: iowamark

I don’t think a “normal” person can get that fat. I’ve known people who huge meals and pure junk food constantly and got fat, but most would eventually top out at 250 or 300lb’s and then they seemed to hit a equilibrium where their bodies would burn as much as they ate and they wouldn’t gain or lose. I think most people are like that. But there seems to be a group where they never hit the equilibrium and just keep gaining and gaining.


31 posted on 02/27/2014 11:11:24 AM PST by apillar
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To: COUNTrecount

Why didn’t he have that stomach surgery decades ago?


32 posted on 02/27/2014 11:12:05 AM PST by Defiant (Let the Tea Party win, and we will declare peace on the American people and go home.)
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To: iowamark

You always hear about people who are so fat they can’t get out of bed. Who brings them their food?


33 posted on 02/27/2014 11:12:59 AM PST by Born to Conserve
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To: Tax-chick

I hate to rank on people with health issues whether they are self-induced or by circumstances beyond their control. It’s really mean.


34 posted on 02/27/2014 11:15:56 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: miss marmelstein
To the outside world, being a celebrity appears glamorous, but the celebrities themselves don't FEEL glamorous.

They do get hooked on the high produced by being worshiped by their fans, especially when performing live. Like any high, they build a tolerance to the substance producing the high, and require increasing amounts to produce the same level of intoxication.

When their celebrity status either disappears or can no longer provide the same buzz, they rely on booze, drugs, and sex do the job.

Does that sound correct?

35 posted on 02/27/2014 11:16:12 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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To: miss marmelstein
It’s really mean.

And it doesn't do a bit of good. Even when it's people you know personally, you can't fix people, and you can't save people from themselves.

36 posted on 02/27/2014 11:19:01 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: miss marmelstein

>> all the doctors gathered around to see an intern use a new instrument to saw off my

YIKES!!!

>> wedding band

Whew.


37 posted on 02/27/2014 11:19:48 AM PST by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: miss marmelstein
I’ve been in theater for 30 years

For a second I thought meant you had been in a war zone for that long (different context, obviously).

38 posted on 02/27/2014 11:20:01 AM PST by Hardastarboard (The question of our age is whether a majority of Americans can and will vote us all into slavery.)
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To: COUNTrecount

Not true at all.

He can more than take care of himself at 600 lbs, and I know. I tipped the scales at 504 back in May, worked 50+ hours a week as a business owner, still worked in the yard, cut the grass, cut firewood, it wasn’t pretty maybe but I got it done. There was no excuse for it, no blame on anyone but myself. I was heavy my whole life and I sure as hell never blamed anyone else for it, I guess I was one of the lucky ones because I was probably the healthiest fat guy my Dr. had ever seen.

Never had any medical issues at all, I had bariatric surgery back in May and it was the first time I ever stepped foot in a hospital other than the ER for getting chunks of steel removed occasionally from work. (occupational hazard)

Since May I’m down this morning to 325 and figure I’ve got 100 to go. Will certainly be there by Xmas. To be honest I can’t figure out guys like this even as close as I came to them, but it’s not anyone’s fault at all but his. I bet he gets his food delivered by someplace like PeaPod who even bring it in and put it on the table for you so he doesn’t have to listen to family and what friends he might have had lecturing him all the time.

He was like an alcoholic only with food, his fault alone for not asking for help, no one failed him.


39 posted on 02/27/2014 11:20:04 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: nascarnation
"The amount of eating necessary to achieve that must be phenomenal, no?"

Nope, 30 lbs a year is all it takes and that is pretty easy to do if you think about it.

40 posted on 02/27/2014 11:21:50 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: iowamark
surviving on disability checks

There is the root of the problem right there.

41 posted on 02/27/2014 11:24:04 AM PST by Count of Monte Fisto (The foundation of modern society is the denial of reality.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

I’m quoting the article, ok? I don’t look for compassion, either. I guess no one read the article!


42 posted on 02/27/2014 11:25:55 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: apillar
"But there seems to be a group where they never hit the equilibrium and just keep gaining and gaining."

Ding ding ding! Everyone is different, and you get one of those people who's body is a perfect trifecta of body just storing the stuff combined with a food dependence and a denial of reality and walla, a crane through the wall.

43 posted on 02/27/2014 11:27:13 AM PST by Abathar (Proudly posting without reading the article carefully since 2004)
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To: Jeff Chandler

That’s a nifty technique, depending on the injury one might need a bit off pain relief prior to trying it.


44 posted on 02/27/2014 11:28:56 AM PST by WinMod70
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To: iowamark
Nowhere in this adaption is there mention of his seeing a weight-loss specialist.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act says that they should have the proper equipment to handle me, the same as they do for anyone else," he says indignantly. "I'm entitled to that. I'll probably have to sue to get the care I really need."

I vaguely remember a fat DUmmie who sounded like this.

45 posted on 02/27/2014 11:35:52 AM PST by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans!)
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To: Nervous Tick

I guess you get nervous, Tick!


46 posted on 02/27/2014 11:36:15 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Responsibility2nd

In my experience of going to the ER and spending 8 days in intensive care they are much more caring for people who haven’t created the situation causing them trouble.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone 600 lbs. 600 lbs is significantly past the point where they need to wake the heck up and address their problem.


47 posted on 02/27/2014 11:39:49 AM PST by driftdiver (I could eat it raw, but why do that when I have a fire.)
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To: Jeff Chandler

Stars are generally narcissists of the first order. No one can achieve that status unless they put themselves first, last and always. And they are invariable very, very cold. Shirley MacLaine’s daughter has written a tell-all on mom and she is the quintessential “star” - easily bored, cold and indifferent to other people’s interests. And very hard-working, I might add.

Stars - if they have genuine talent - save all their personal warmth and humanity for the stage.


48 posted on 02/27/2014 11:40:48 AM PST by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: miss marmelstein

There are surgeries than an remove much of the excess fat and skin that would probably be less expensive in the long run for everyone involved.

But he needs to stop eating 8000 calories a day.

It sounds like (going by what is posted in OP) this guy doesn’t think he has a weight problem, that it’s everyone else who should accommodate him.

This has nothing to do with hate.

I don’t think 600 pounds is an “extreme” case, the real extreme cases are the ones where the person needs a wall torn down and a forklift to move them from the bed.

BTW, I hope you were able to get your ring fixed after having it cut off.


49 posted on 02/27/2014 11:43:02 AM PST by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans!)
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To: miss marmelstein
Stars are generally narcissists of the first order.

That makes sense. Narcissists require absolute affirmation (being wrong or less than perfect is like death to them). What better affirmation is there than stardom?

50 posted on 02/27/2014 11:49:51 AM PST by Jeff Chandler (Obamacare: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.)
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