The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

And All The King’s Horses And All The King’s Men. . .

on May 24, 2013

This is a picture of Paul Mason.  Mr. Mason was once the world’s fattest man topping out at nearly 1000 pounds.  Through the National Health Service (NHS) in England he received gastric bypass surgery.

Paul Mason, of Suffolk, U.K., weighed 980 pounds at his heaviest.

And now he looks like this.

'Once I get rid of the spare skin I also hope to be able to go swimming and cycling and join a gym — and find a girlfriend,' he says.

Mr. Mason has lost nearly 650 pounds. The problem, as you can see, is that Paul Mason has over 100 pounds of loose flesh which impedes his movement and can cause painful sores and cracked skin.  According to the National Health Service they are more than willing to remove the excess skin and to foot the unbelievable $100,000 price tag IF Mr. Mason first maintains his weight loss for two years prior to the surgery.

I saw this story and I immediately understood both sides of the issue, I consulted a close friend for her opinion and then I mulled over the facts presented in the article.  Mr. Mason has had a severe weight problem for most of his life.  The NHS has already been incredibly generous by paying for his gastric by-pass surgery.  Paul Mason has been unable to care for himself properly for some time. He has mobility issues  as a result of all the extra skin hanging from his frame.”

My friend feels that having him wait for two years is appropriate and if that is the NHS guideline then he should follow it like anyone else. The issue I have is that the NHS is painting everyone with the same brush and Mr. Mason is not just anyone.  Unlike someone who may have some excess hanging skin, but who can cover it with an over sized shirt or tuck it into a support garment, Mr. Mason can barely walk.  There is no way for him to just cover up the skin and continue on with his life, he is trapped in his body right now.  He’s lost all this weight which kept him bed bound and dependent on others and he’s struggled and worked hard to lose this weight and he can’t enjoy it.  He can’t ride a bike, he can’t go for a walk and to be quite frank he can’t find his penis.  I imagine he knows where it is, but he talks about wanting to find a girlfriend, about wanting to do the things that other people do, and now after all the hard work of losing the weight and no doubt dreaming of a life where he can get out of bed unassisted and once again become a thriving member of society his dreams are dashed at least for two more years.

What also strikes me is the likelihood of him gaining weight back due to his lack of mobility and the very real possibility that he may develop depression and feelings of hopelessness which could also cause him to gain weight.  There is also the possibility that he could develop serious infections from the chaffing and the sores and all the unpleasant things one can develop from having an excess of wobbly bits.
The NHS is wonderfully generous to make gastric by-pass and plastic surgery available to people like Mr. Mason, however when standard guidelines are applied to non-standard situations the result may be a sort of feed back loop or self-fulfilling prophecy.  Patients must keep the weight off for two years to show that they can keep their weight stable, but a patient who has reduced quality of life may turn to old habits and comforts to help them through the extended wait time, which could lead to weight gain and the NHS deciding that the patient cannot stabilize their weight.  This loop could continue for years and could continue to reduce quality of life.
Mr. Mason’s doctor will be presenting his pictures to the NHS Council which decides on such things.  Hopefully they will change their collective mind and permit the surgery ahead of the standard wait time.  If not, hopefully Paul Mason can keep the weight off and qualify for the surgery at the first opportunity.
– the Goddess

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