The maccas next to my primary school
2:15 am. My pager goes off.
“Please R/V patient Channing Tatum in Ward B who has a blood pressure of 190/100”
I check the notes.
“43 year old man admitted to hospital with poorly controlled diabetes
Known medical conditions:
-Obesity…yes it’s classified as a disease now
-Hypertension…after 6 years of medical school, we can’t possibly call a duck a duck and just say high blood pressure
-Type 2 diabetes…my blood is sweet like sugar
Some stuff for diabetes
Some stuff for blood pressure
I introduce myself.
“Mate, you are so young. And so good looking. A handsome doctor. Dr Jayaweera? More like Dr Beautiful. You must be keeping the ladies away with a stick.” – Mr Tatum doesn’t say this out loud but, you can tell he is thinking it. It’s obvious.
Jokes aside, I do my thing and find nothing acutely wrong. I notice that Mr Tatum is morbidly obese. He even needs help sitting up. Remember he’s only 43 years old. Multiple bruises because they couldn’t find a vein.
Stage 2 is upon us. Don’t worrry, I will explain.
I give him a little extra umph on top of his usual medications. The blood pressure settles. I am a god amongst mere mortals. I walk away in slow motion. There is a celebration behind me. Party hats. Streamers. Balloons. Screaming fans. I don’t look back though. I have seen it all before. #yeahright.
The rest of the night consists of 5 more different versions of the same thing. So, I do 5 or so different versions of the same thing.
Broadly speaking, there are 3 stages of disease progression. The following may or may not be loosely extracted from the “Medical Journal of Gihan made this up to make a point”.
Stage 1: Life is sweet. The birds are chirping and Sri Lanka has just beat Australia at home in the T20 series. Life is sensational.
Stage 2: The numbers start going off. You look like a god chiselled you out of Painite (the world’s rarest gemstone mineral #googledexpensiverocks) but, the numbers are starting to look controversial. Your blood sugars are borderline. Your blood pressure is rising. Your abdominal circumference (the distance it takes to do a roundtrip starting and finishing at your belly button) is increasing.
Stage 3: KABLAM! (pause for dramatic effect because someone just dropped a deuce on your head). Welcome to chest pain city or perhaps the left side of your mouth is drooping (bonus points for the non-medical people who know which side of the brain is affected) or maybe you just walked barefoot on gravel and couldn’t feel a thing (oh dear).
So here’s what eats at my soul. Somethings are difficult to prevent. Sometimes, you are simply unlucky. However, most the time there are things that can be prevented. Conveniently, these are called preventable diseases.
We have a problem. A serious epidemic is upon us.
Part of the problem is that there is a McDonald’s directly next to my old primary school (insert slow clapping sequence to display my sarcastic rage). Seriously, if you want me to stop being constipated (i.e. lose my sh**), let’s have a chat about this particular Maccas.
The other part of the problem is US.
Insert rage below. People sometimes ask me why I am so passionate about obesity.
You have always been skinny. You eat fairly well anyway, what’s it to you?
Well the simplest way I can explain it is that obesity, for many (not all), robs people of their potential and it makes me angry!
I have seen it break people mentally.
“Nothing looks good on me…I hate how it makes me feel…I just don’t have the energy anymore…I am sick of being bullied for being fat…it goes on.”
I have seen it break people physically.
“I can’t believe I had a heart attack before I hit 50…my diabetes is so bad I can’t feel my frickin feet…my joints are stuffed…walking up the stairs makes me feel like I ran a marathon so I exclusively take the lift…it goes on.”
However, I have seen weight loss change the fundamental being of a person. This turns me on.
“I felt like I could achieve ANYTHING…I am unstoppable now…within a year I got engaged and got married to the love my life…my knees don’t hurt anymore…it goes on.”
One thing that drives me crazy is waste of human potential both within myself and others. If all someone needs is to lose some weight to go from being mentally and physically broken to feeling like a superhero, well let’s frickin lose that weight!
There are countless extraordinary figures doing great things in this field.
You have beasts like Jamie Oliver using his presence as a food GOD to shape the future of childhood obesity. If you haven’t seen his TED talk regarding this, please watch it here (even if you don’t read the rest of this post…seriously). It is inspiring and shocking at the same time. He goes to the point of likening what we are doing to our youth as “child abuse”.
Then you have people pushing the fitness industry like Michelle Bridges and Sam Wood. Thousands of online members, who would otherwise chill on their couch exclusively watching re-runs of Friends (awesome show), are getting motivated to move more and eat better. #respect
The legendary surgeons who are giving morbidly obese patients a second chance with bariatric surgery. #respect
Hopefully I can do my bit through my career as a GP. #watchthisspace
There is a chance that this post comes off a little judgemental. I don’t mean to be. I really don’t. But it is serious and important to me. It may be affecting you. It may be affecting your family. It may be affecting your friends.
I want to be crystal clear that I am not endorsing a world where no one has McDonald’s and that everyone exercises twice a day. I am by no means saying that I am the epitome of good health.
I am obviously human. I enjoy my occasional Nandos binges. Sometimes after a bad day at work I may drop by the petrol station to score a cheeky kit kat. If there is butter cake (see ya later). We are all human. And life is busy and draining and sometimes, “bad” food just makes you feel good. I just want to live in a world, where people have AWARENESS that there actions have cumulative consequences, whether good or bad. Keeping this in mind, when I am a GP, I plan to use this knowledge to have the difficult conversations with patients regarding sensitive topics like their weight.
As always, don’t do drugs, stay in school and make your health a priority which means making time for it just like you would for the next episode of Game of Thrones.
COMMENT AND SHARE. Or don’t. I don’t care. My feelings clearly mean nothing to you. Sorry I have been watching Suits and I am a bit emotional with all the backstabbing and cheating!
Take care of yourself and try your best to do something for someone else this week.