House Tackles Gastric Bypass – Is It “Cheating?”

This is going to be a long post, so go grab some coffee and settle in. It’s all about how the world is biased against people who’ve had gastric bypass surgery. Yeah, we get to be thin(er). But people think we “cheated” to get there. It was “too easy.” As if!!

It’s all because I watched House last night. (December 2nd). His patient was a DVD fitness queen, hawking her healthy tips via infomercial. In the beginning of the show, she’s running with a really fat guy up a set of bleachers. Only the fat guy makes it, and Ms. Fitness passes out.

I’ll be honest. I watch House mostly for the characters, and don’t really pay a lot of attention to the medical stuff. It usually flies right over my head. I’m really just killing time until The Mentalist comes on anyway. (OMG Simon Baker is HOT! He may be replacing my Keifer Sutherland Crush.)

But last night’s House was different, and my interest was piqued during the MRI (or some related test), when it was discovered Ms. Fitness had had (gasp!) a gastric bypass! Dun dun dun….

My first thought was that her symptoms were due to vitamin deficiency, but when Thirteen suggested that House said she was an idiot. My husband thought that was funny.

Gastric Bypass is “Cheating” At Being Healthy?

Taub’s first reaction, however, is that she’s a “cheater.” That, as you might expect, kinda ticked me off. My husband looked at me and asked, “Do you hear that alot?”

“Oh, yeah!” I replied. “Everything from, ‘I’m doing it the natural way,’ to ‘So-and-so is losing weight the hard way,’ etc.”

My husband nodded his understanding. So I asked, “Well, you’ve had a front row seat for this. Do you think it’s “the easy way out?”

“HA!” he replied, very forcefully. ‘Nuff said.

Unfortunately, the gastric-bypass-as-cheating storyline continued throuout the episode. It meant that Ms. Fitness was a hypocrite. House took perverse pleasure in posting her tubby “before” pic in the office where he and his minions were trying to find the problem.

But Taub was especially Offended. He reasoned that she was nothing but a money-grubbing fake, peddling a lie for her own profit. Ms. Fitness responded that all she was doing was helping people be healthy. Her advice was real, and it was helpful.

“But it didn’t work for you, did it?” Taub asks viciously. Ms. Fitness is dutifully, shamefully quiet in response.

Well, I can kinda-sorta understand his point. I don’t think having a gastric bypass is cheating. And had I written this story Ms. Fitness would have chronicled just how difficult her journey had been, from Hell Week to every Dump to every drop of sweat as she worked out. Still, I’m not going to try and make money telling people they can achieve the same weight loss I’ve achieved without it. I’m not sure I believe it can be done, by most people anyway. And there are plenty of statistics to back me up.

More Evidence Of Public Ignorance To Gastric Bypass Realities

Back to the story, we get the best evidence yet that the writers haven’t really done their research when House insists that though Ms. Fitness is all hot on the outside, she’s “still a fatty on the inside.” He orders them to look for things like diabetes, sleep apnea, all the things that he insists would not have resolved themselves with her “200 pound weight loss.” Obviously, he hasn’t read my article on the benefits of gastric bypass surgery.

After ruling out all those red herrings, the intrepid team is left with the possibility of some kind of brain tumor. There are 7 possibilities, in fact, that Huddy insists House rule out before she’ll approve the brain biopsy he really wants to do.

As Ms. Fitness is being dragged through all this testing, she forces Taub to level with her about what the prognosis really is. He lets her in on the brain tumor idea, says there are “some treatments,” but it’s obvious there’s not much hope.

So Ms. Fitness does what any red-blooded former fat person would do. She demands Taub take her to the cafeteria for some chocolate cake. Apparently, since she’s going to die anyway, she wants to have 5 minutes of bliss followed immediately by an hour of misery as she dumps on all that sugar. (More evidence the writers didn’t do their research. Ms. Fitness apparently never dumps. I, on the other hand, almost dumped just by thinking about eating that cake.)

But this brings us to the Big Surprise Twist. The chocolate cake cures her. No, really. (Didn’t we all secretly know chocolate had some kind of magical healing power? And, you can get it sugar-free.)

Turns out, Ms. Fitness has a weird genetic disease that is actually treated with a high-carb, high-sugar diet. When she was all fat she was actually “self-medicating” as House puts it. So he and Taub gleefully inform her that all they need to do is reverse her gastric bypass, she can pig out on chocolate cake three meals a day and be “healthy.”

Does Anyone Have Gastric Bypass Just To Be “Pretty?”

“Are there no other treatments?” Ms. Fitness asks. Well, of course there is a drug. But it just “manages the symptoms.” And Taub isn’t even very convincing that it’ll do a very good job at that.

“I’ll go with the drug,” Ms. Fitness insists.

Finally, House is impressed. “There’s not many people who have the guts to admit that they’d rather be pretty than healthy.”

OH BOY. I almost missed the beginning of The Mentalist due to my ranting.

FIRST – how healthy are you when you’re morbidly obese? Sure, her present illness would go away on the chocolate cake diet. But what about the diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. etc…

SECOND – it’s about a heck of a lot more than being “pretty.” Especially for women. House had spent the last half hour taking every possible opportunity to say disparaging things about Ms. Fitness’s prior weight. How does he (or more importantly the writers) think it feels to live with comments like that day in and day out? How do they think it feels to be mortified by your appearance?

There’s a whole lot of deep-seated stuff going on, way beyond “pretty.” Women in this culture are assigned worth based on their looks much more than their abilities. A woman’s body image matters.

THIRD – anyone who goes through Hell Week, and all the other side effects of gastric bypass, has worked so hard to get where this character was, would have a hard time giving up that hard-fought victory. “Pretty” or not, I’d want to try the drug before radicaly re-re-arranging my insides. Undoing gastric bypass is no easy feat, and even for the geniuses at House’s hospital it’s not a sure thing.

GRRRR… It’s obvious that the general public will never understand what those of us who’ve had gastric bypass surgery have gone through in order to be healthy and fit. And yes, to look better, for all the reasons that matters.

But maybe that’s OK. I still wouldn’t trade my journey – difficult though it’s been. The end is worth it.

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3 Responses to House Tackles Gastric Bypass – Is It “Cheating?”

  1. mrsmmmarsz

    I couldn’t agree more. I am scheduled to have this surgery in July and I am sort of freaked out, but I can’t wait.

    People who are not obese have no freaking clue about being “fat” my favorite is when people i know who are skinny complain to me oh I am so fat… oh really? Are you? You jackass… shut up.

    Life can be totally miserable for skinny people, but life IS totally miserable for the fat. Mostly due to the way that totally horrible skinny people treat anyone who is not thin. Get a clue you skinny jerks, and shut up.

    This surgery is to make us all healthier, it has very little to do with vanity. It is hard, it is work, and it changes your entire life. Maybe if thin people took a minute to think before they talk and not secretly harbor a fatist attitude then the whole world would be a better place… and to those who say that this is “cheating” make up your minds… many thin people complain that fat people are making health care costs sky rocket…we are trying to fix the problem, so let us. Don’t then hold our efforts against us too.

    We don’t hate you because you look like you need a muffin or something. Act like a human being and just be nice… or do what your mother probably said when you were little… if you haven’t anything nice to say then just shut the F*** up.

  2. Wow…I guess I’m glad I missed this episode. I love that show but even though I did….I will remember it. I am accustomed to the WLS prejudice but I would have expected more from “House”. You’ve got me wanting to blog and youtube about this because I recently got my feathers ruffled over People magazine and their “women half their size” issue. Real women, real weight loss and actually even said “no surgery”. I guess I had fake weight loss. As I’ve said so many times…I lost it the old fashioned way a hundred times and really (I MEAN REALLY) does it matter what I did that took me from 30 years of obesity to 7 years at goal? And don’t forget that I’m healthier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. That’s OK. I’m living a wonderful life and I will continue to fight the misconceptions one person at a time.

    Lisa, you’re doing an awesome job! Keep up the wonderful work. Hey, will you email me? I have a surprise for you!
    Blessings, Yvonne

  3. I wanted to blog about his episode but I was so annoyed by it! and I’m a big fan of HOUSE so it bothered me all the more.

    Gastric Bypass is about being pretty? Really?? I wanted to choke Taub for being so judgmental!!

    I’m so glad you blogged about this. Of course we’re not cheating! This is hard!
    ah, but you know that already :-)

    Thanks for saying it loud and clear!