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Report on another icky effect of WLS

From the medical journal Neurology (article is here but requires subscription).

Excerpts: excerpt:

After gastric bypass surgery [...] vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to Wernicke encephalopathy, a severe neurological condition.
In the study, a 35-year-old woman developed many difficulties after gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery for obesity. Difficulties included nausea, anorexia, fatigue, hearing loss, forgetfulness, and ataxia, or an inability to coordinate muscle movements. By the 12th week following surgery, she had lost 40 pounds and had difficulty walking and concentrating.
An MRI scan showed abnormal signals in various parts of the woman's brain, indicating a deficiency in vitamin B1. Also known as thiamine, vitamin B1 is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and normal functioning of the nervous system. When her intravenous dose of vitamin B1 was increased to 100 mg every eight hours, her eye muscles gradually returned to normal and her confusion decreased.

Eleven days after her dose of vitamin B1 was increased, a follow-up MRI scan showed the abnormal signals had decreased.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
But, you know, all those negative health effects are okay, because they prove that the WLS is working.

there aren't enough roll-eyed smilies in the world.
Dec. 28th, 2005 06:38 pm (UTC)
I know three people who've opted for WLS.

None of them has been remotely healthy since.

One has had to have repeated surgeries to fix increasing problems caused by the first one.
Dec. 28th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, do you and I have a writing project!
Dec. 28th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
I do know a few people who've had it, and are happy for having had it. At least one has had ongoing digestive issues since, and one is much physically healthier (psychological issues around being fat hindered her improving her behavior). It seems to me like an incredibly drastic step. In that middle-class mainstream BDSMy crowd, it's ... almost obligatory.

Dec. 28th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC)
Er, that is to say: *sigh*, yet another thing to worry about.
Dec. 28th, 2005 09:48 pm (UTC)
Well, thank God I'm not middle class, then, because I am fat and BDSMy, and nobody is coming near my belly with a knife. Not for that kind of reason.
Dec. 28th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
*that* crowd. I dunno about other crowds.
Dec. 29th, 2005 02:35 am (UTC)
I freaked when a woman at my health club (a fellow member, not an employee, than Ghu) suggested I get gastric bypass surgery.

First of all, by any normal standards I'm nowhere near heavy enough to warrant it even by the most fat-phobic doctor's standards.

Second, why on earth would I want to do that to myself? I'd think that kind of surgery would only work if you had a problem with overeating (and that's not why I'm overweight, thank you!).

The reason we have so many heavy people is we bred for it for centuries as a positive trait. Until about 70 or 80 years ago it was considered "in vogue" to be "zoftig" -- that is, to have "meat on the bones" -- because it was hard to achieve. You had to have money to be able to put on weight back then; most of the world had to engage in hard, calorie-burning labor. It's also a good thing to have if you get sick and can't eat. That fat can keep you alive until you're up to eating again.

Suddenly when "meat on the bones" was the norm, being built like a twig became "in vogue" because it was harder to achieve. The automation age made more jobs more sedentary, and suddenly the rich people were the ones who had the time (and money) to exercise. Adding to the mix was the propensity of cheap, high-calorie foods and the increase in price of low-calorie foods.
Dec. 29th, 2005 08:12 am (UTC)
I'd think that kind of surgery would only work if you had a problem with overeating

It "works" by essentially inducing anorexia and bulimia in people who have had it. The amount they can eat is very little. Nearly everyone who has the surgery will lose weight because they cannot eat nearly enough, and if they do it often results in vomitting--most will not be "thin" post-surgery but weight will be lost. So, yes, the surgery "works" for everyone as it will reduce the consumption of food drastically, just as meth or chemo might.

Does this mean it is a reasonable thing to do? Absolutely not.

Does it mean it is healthy? Hell no.

Does it signal something fucked up and sick about our society? Absolutely.

And you'd be suprised at how low a weight one can have and be approved for the surgery.
Dec. 29th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
And the sad thing is, almost no one who promotes the surgery as a 'cure for obesity' is even going to bad an eye. Just take intravenous vitamins, they'll say... sure, for the rest of your life if you have to. It's so much healthier than being fat!
Dec. 29th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
Here's what really troubles me. The woman was 35. That's very young, and I'd bet good money she had nothing more wrong with her than high blood pressure, if that, and she was told to have WLS so she would avoid developing weight related health problems in the future.

I haven't read the original article, but the blurb I saw about it makes it look like this condition required her to have an IV (not just a regular injection) for eleven days.

Having to inject vitamins with a needle is a nuisance (people who've had, e.g., colon cancer surgery sometimes have to take them), but at least it's not a nuisance 24 hours a day. But having to drag around an IV for eleven days? That's fucked.
Dec. 30th, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
And that 11 days may be just the beginning..
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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