TLC’s My 600 Pound Life : Why Do We Watch It?

Fascinated with obese people? It’s not polite to stare at them on the street, but you can watch them on TLC―The Learning Channel. Is it unethical to watch these shows?

I did watch, TLC’s My 600 Pound Life. It followed several 600 pound people for 7 years. Each person endured Gastric Bypass surgery. They were so obese that their lives were in danger if they didn’t do something to lose weight.

There is also the operating room piece to this series. You get to watch the doctor perform surgery, and get to see their huge stomachs being reduced. It is both disgusting and fascinating.

In most cases, the people were no longer mobile and couldn’t get their own food. So how did  they get it? From the people who were  their caretakers or loved ones, their enablers.

In every case their enablers were also grossly overweight, but didn’t have a clue as to why their loved ones got up to 600 pounds. Talk about not taking responsibility, or seeing yourself as having a problem.

I wanted to shout out to the screen, “It’s partly your fault!”

In many cases, it was parents who got them started with their bad eating habits in the first place. While their loved one was recuperating, they were still chowing down on fast food in front of them.

In one case, a mother― grossly overweight―talked about how her daughter went and hid food in her bedroom, and there was nothing she could do about it. You can tell, by her reactions, that she is not a kind person. Although she’s obese herself, she’s ready to tease her own daughter for her weight problem.

I’m not putting all the blame on the enablers. When you get to a certain age, you have to take responsibility.

I disagree with some people who think these people copped out by getting Gastric Bypass surgery. That’s a gutsy thing to do. These people were putting themselves in mortal danger, and the recovery was painful and difficult.

Why do I watch this show? Maybe to motivate myself so I won’t get up to 600 pounds. Maybe to remind myself that food is only for nourishment, not for companionship or recreation. It shouldn’t be for emotional self- soothing.

In our society it’s become all those things to many people.

I’m wondering how many people only eat for nourishment.

Obesity Campaign Poster

Obesity is a big problem in the USA.

Despite all the problems these people encountered, some of them also beat the odds. There is a happy ending to some of the stories. It gives hope that life can drastically change if people do the work.

Despite her teasing mother, the young girl lost a lot of weight, went back to college, and is leading a normal life. One of the men was determined to lose weight at the very beginning and he did. He even married his girlfriend in the end.

Not everyone had a good outcome. Some went back to their old eating habits.

Do you think there’s something basically sick about watching these shows?  Is it fair to watch someone else’s private misery?

Is it similar to going to a carnival sideshow as suggested by some reviews I’ve read?

Does it have any value at all? They wouldn’t produce these shows if people didn’t watch them.

What do you think?


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Losing and finding some sleep in my middle-aged years

Several years ago, I started getting complaints from my husband, and even my children. It was about an unpleasant noise emanating from our bedroom. They said it sounded like a freight train was going through our house, but they finally figured out it was me―snoring.

One of the things I’d always prided myself on was being a quiet sleeper. I had  memories of my own mother making ear-splitting sounds when she slept,  so I guessed  I was being paid back for complaining about it.

After my husband recorded my snoring, which was enough to wake the dead, I took my first trip to a Sleep Apnea Doctor.

I could tell this was going to cost me big bucks because the there were numerous comfortable couches, a colorful rug, and a large-screened TV.

I couldn’t help noticing that most of the people in the waiting room were heavy. I was figuring out that obesity and snoring are closely related.  I later learned that you can be skinny and have this disorder too. It all has to do with size, and muscles. Unfortunately, the older you get, the more your muscles relax.

After talking with me, the doctor told me  I’d have to attend an over-night sleep study.
“You  probably stopped breathing during the night without knowing it. You wake yourself up, but don’t remember it,”he said.

The next night I reluctantly packed a suitcase, and attended my first sleep study. I was connected to some bizarre machine with electrodes  They connected them to my hair, arms, legs, and other places.

After this fiasco, I was supposed to go to sleep for the night so they could record my brain waves, and how many times I actually  had trouble breathing during the  night.

Have you ever tried to go to sleep with tons of electrodes connected to your body?  The room looked like a nice homey bedroom, but I was not enjoying myself.

I felt like I was in a new episode of The Twilight Zone. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Rod Serling, creator of the science fiction series, was in the next room monitoring my breathing on a large screened computer.

If things weren’t bad enough, the sleep aides were  drinking coffee, pop, and eating cookies in their break room.

“How am I going to get any sleep when you’re making all that noise?” I asked. They quieted down, and hoped I’d fall asleep.

After it seemed like I’d just gotten to sleep , I was awakened at 6 A.M, and  answered some questions. I was not in a good mood.

They allowed me to take a quick shower to take all the electrode glue out of my hair. It would take me several days to completely get it out.

After returning to the office, they informed me I had moderate sleep apnea, and would have to return for another overnight to test out the Sleep Apnea machine. After going through the whole procedure again, I discovered that sleep with a Sleep Apnea machine is very refreshing.

These two little trips to the overnight pajama party cost a couple of hundred dollars.

“Don’t worry about it…your insurance will pay for it,” said the doctor’s pretty young assistant.

What if you don’t have insurance?  What if you have a stroke, heart attack, or some other serious manifestation of untreated sleep apnea?  They say you could stop breathing and die.

Finally, I purchased a Sleep Apnea machine. I looked like I was a patient in the hospital.  I definitely felt like I could qualify as an alien from outer space.  It has several parts, and I am not really a machine person. I’ve tried going without it, but the sleep isn’t as good.

My big objection: you have to replace parts every few months. But, of course your insurance pays for some of it.

The Patient Assistant proposed to me an oral device: price $3000.00. My dentist could make it for me, but I couldn’t try it out first.

sleep apnea mask

sleep apnea mask A woman with a mask on, not me!

If my insurance wouldn’t pay for it, it would cost me a mere $700.00. I decided I had no choice, but to stick with my machine.

I think the doctors have figured out it’s okay to hold middle-aged women and men hostage.

After all, what’s more important than a good nights sleep?

What do you think? Have you ever had an experience with sleep apnea?

The Twilight Zone (1985 TV series)
I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Rod Serling at my sleep study
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A Baby Boomers Take on the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards reminded me of  watching a sitcom.

Best Actress Academy Award

It’s just not the same for me since all the movie stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, James Garner, James Stewart, and the perennial host, Bob Hope aren’t with us anymore.

Billy Crystal did a great job though. He beats out whatever they did last time. I liked Chris Rock’s bit. He’s the only one who made me at least chuckle.  I thought the “Focus Group” on the Wizard of Oz was cute.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey did a bit that was almost funny.

Some of the winning was a yawn. Meryl Streep was correct, it was tiresome to watch her win her third academy award. She is a great actor, but there must be some others just as good. (Revision: I just saw Iron Lady she really deserved it! )

“The Artist” winning for best picture seemed contrived to me.  They were applauding creativity and nerve. They couldn’t have been rewarding the trite story.

The best actor category was a disappointment. I think people who say dialogue deserved to win more than the actor from “The Silent Movie.” I was rooting for George Clooney, although he doesn’t need my sympathy!

It was nice that Christopher Plummer won an academy award. I did see the movie and he was great.

I couldn’t help thinking that “The Help” should have gotten more recognition. Nothing new, I guess.

But, I will give it a go next year too. It’s a tradition. But, with my movie stars gone, it’s never going to be the same.

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My First Experience at a Women Writer’s Retreat

You’re never too old to learn new things. I put this on my Facebook page, and it’s something I live by. Just because you’re older, don’t give up on educating yourself.

I just attended Deanna Adam’s, ” Sixth Annual Women Writers Winter Retreat”. It was in Willoughby, Ohio, a perfect setting. Women of all ages and ability levels attended this retreat (You didn’t  have to be Anne Tyler  or  Alice Hoffman to qualify for this retreat.) Women stayed in a bed and breakfast, and a charming hotel.

Imagine spending three days with  17 women whose commonality is a love of writing! How about listening to successful authors who have already made it in the writing world.  Speakers included: Joyce Dyer, Sandra Gurvis, and Julianne Lindsay. They represented different venues of writing, and they all were happy to share their knowledge.

With the advent of self-publishing and e-books people who have a story to say, can write it, and easily get it published. It’s a wide-open market. “If your story isn’t well-written and interesting  it probably won’t succeed,” said author Sandra Gurvis.

Spending three days discussing and learning was great. Not to mention breaking bread with everyone.

If you have a passion, investigate it. See if there is anyone else who shares your passions. Groups are forming all over the internet. In some cases, there are chances to meet in person.

Like anything else, you have to make an effort! Go for it.

Women bonding at Deanna Adams Sixth Annual Winter Retreat!

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Tattoos, Piercings, and other Bizarre Human Art

The other day I went to Walgreens to shop. I looked up at the cashier, and couldn’t help but notice the loop around her nostrils. I could see into her nose, something that wasn’t exactly pretty. And why were they allowing her to greet customers like that?

I have gotten used to the little piercings on the nose. I even think they’re  cute in a way. But why would someone wear a loop going up their nose?

Ear piercing is cute, but the giant holes that people put in their ears in hard for me to understand.  I was standing in line behind a guy in the airport, and the only thing I noticed were the huge gaping holes he had in his ears. It was gross.

I go to my aerobics water class, and the instructor in her late 40’s, is displaying a belly piercing. Although she is basically in good shape, she does have the tummy flab. It just doesn’t look right. Belly piercing just doesn’t go with middle age. Or does it? Am I being old-fashioned?

I kind of like the little tattoos people put in discrete places. I’ve even considered doing it myself. A  little butterfly here or there. Okay, maybe if I was younger, I would’ve done it myself.

I can even see the reason to commemorate an important message, like love for a person or an important message to yourself. I’m trying to be a little open here.

But  I don’t get the art all up and down people’s arms where you can’t see their skin anymore? Are they trying to get attention? Is it an obsession? What if you grow out of it someday? Then, what are you going to do?

I especially feel badly when I see an older person, like myself, whose tattoo is stretched out and faded. You wonder how they feel about it now. It would make it impossible to disengage from the past.

This all reminds me of the primitive civilizations where they stretch their necks, put plates in their lips, and do other bizarre things to their body.  Are we going back in time?

body modification (tattoo, piercing, implant)

Why would someone do this?

But, on the other hand, a little butterfly would be nice!

You never know!

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The Case of the disappearing post

English: Apple Computer — Apple Store, M...

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote a post on my views on reality television, however, I lost it when I used Zemanta. I ended up with a picture instead of a post!

I have a Mac, and have religiously gone to some of the classes. I’ve even gotten one-to-one instruction. They young genius helpers are patient. They seem to understand that some people of my generation are just not tuned into the technology age.

They find it strange that I ask for a paper and pencil to write things down. It’s something from the 20th century. Don’t I realize it’s now a paperless world? (Which is a good thing because I hate hunting down little pieces of paper).

When I walked into a Best Buy several years ago, I realized things had drastically changed. Fancy cell phones, answering machines, recording devices, and on and on.  What happened to knobs that you turned? What happened to high and low volume switches? What was going on?

When I went into the Apple store to figure out how to use my new computer,  I looked over at the children at the kiddie computers.  It was especially disturbing to see the little boy sitting in the chair with the pacifier hanging out of his mouth expertly playing a game.  These days they must be  born with a computer chip in their brains.

I finally have realized that I need to back up my posts.Because when they’re gone, I don’t have the patience to reconstruct them.

I realized that it can be generational when I sat down with my uncle several years ago, and tried to show him how to use a mouse. He just couldn’t get it. I just didn’t have the patience to wait till he caught on. I suddenly understood why my son looked like he was going to explode when he’d agree to help me every once in a while.

In the meantime, I’ll renew my one-to-one at the Apple Store and keep at it. It’s a good way to meet other people my own age. They’re sitting at the projects table with me.

I have to clarify that there are plenty of people my age who are fantastic at technology. Some of them have been leaders in the field. I guess, some of us are born to adapt to this stuff, and others just have to keep taking classes.

Dare I try to add a picture to this post?  Will it disappear?

Anybody with some simple tips you can give me about word-press? Put it in the comments section.

I’ll reconstruct my reality TV  post tomorrow. I thought it was one of my best.

If you’ve had the same experience, feel free to comment. If you have advice, make it as simple as possible!

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Exercising with 20 and 30 somethings

A yoga class.

Image via Wikipedia

My husband and I took the initiative to join a Health Club.   We knew it was time to really work on maintaining our youthful appearances, and our grown children were bugging us.( It was nice to know that they wanted us to survive well into our 100’s.)

The first Health Club we joined was convenient and inexpensive, but we found that you do get what you pay for. The yoga class consisted of  30 very old people laying on the floor and moving one leg at a time in a semi-circle. The steam room was one lonely shower stall with an on switch. The towel service was less than generous, one skimpy towel. The pool was  occasionally cloudy, and that couldn’t have been a good sign.

I finally convinced him to join the gym in the trendy shopping center. It looked like the Taj Mahal after being in the broken-down gym. It had two big pools, well-maintained gym equipment, and an endless supply of towels.

I was in for some culture shock when I went upstairs and saw the clientele. They were very well-shaped 20 and 30 somethings. The ladies had sculpted arms and the guys looked like they were competing in body building competitions. (There were also some average looking people, but I was now one of the oldest clients).

After trying some classes, I was in for another shock; I couldn’t keep up.

Luckily, I found a good place for myself, the aerobics swim classes. There were other people my age, and I fit right in. Water is a great medium to exercise in when your older. There were some challenging classes: aerobics and biking in the water. It’s great for your heart rate.

Not a person that gives up easily, I still went upstairs. I found something I’d done before, bike spinning.  You ride stationary bikes while music plays. I felt like part of the class until the leader came up and asked me if I was all right. (After a few classes, he figured out that although I was older, I wasn’t weak). After a few classes I began to appreciate the loud music although I try my best not to concentrate on the lyrics.

The twenty or thirty somethings don’t mind sharing space with me, and treat me just like an equal. They’ll even assist me when I have a problem with a machine.

I’m happy to say the yoga class consists of doing all the moves, not just lifting one leg at a time.

If you’re sitting on your couch, I would recommend you get up and at least take a walk. After that, drive to your favorite reputable Health Club. You can always modify your moves. Nobody will judge you.

Look for a place with a clean whirlpool, swimming pool, and sauna. You will feel like a sexy revitalized baby-boomer when you are done.

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How I found out every life has meaning

by Barbara A. Topolosky

I was trained as a teacher, and occasionally did private tutoring jobs after school. I got an unusual request from a school system. The supervisor wanted me to tutor a severely mentally and physically disabled little girl. I informed her that I wasn’t trained in this area, but she told me it didn’t matter―they were just looking for someone with a teaching certificate to fill the position.

I went over to the house to check it out. I really wasn’t prepared for what I found there. There was an 8-year-old child, Annie, wearing diapers, and a bib because she slobbered. She also had a feeding tube― something I’d never seen before. She couldn’t walk, but navigated around the room on her hands, dragging her feet behind her.  She couldn’t talk either, and made no sounds at all. It wasn’t something I was used to seeing, and it startled me, just a little.

The foster-mother was quite upset when I told her I didn’t specialize in this type of thing, but I guess she figured out she’d take what she could get. I wasn’t the first person who had tried to work with her. I’m sure I’m not the last.

I’d like to say we hit it off as best friends, but that wouldn’t be the truth. There was always some kind of tension between us. I think she wanted someone who could deliver a miracle. She quickly realized it wasn’t going to be me.

I did learn to love and appreciate little Annie for what she could do. She loved looking at books with big colorful pictures. She especially liked a book that showed photographs of children. She loved playing with some toy instruments she had, and we made our own little parade: drums, cymbals, and bells.

Her favorite activity was going outside and taking a walk in her wheelchair. If a child happened to be outside, and said, “hello”, she was in heaven.

One day to show her appreciation she put her little hand over mine. My heart melted.

In no time at all, I forgot about the slobbering, the crawling, and that she was 8 years old and wearing diapers. I saw her for what she was― a human being― one who could give and accept love. A person who enjoyed life.

After my job was over for the school year, I realized how much I missed her, and how much she’d meant to me. I hope that I meant something to her too.