Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Nova Scotian on 10 year wait for bariatric surgery pens her own obituary

Today's guest post comes from Lillian, a Nova Scotian who is currently on their province's 10 year wait list for bariatric surgery.

She doesn't think she's going to make it 10 years and so she decided to write her own obituary to raise awareness about the lack of funding for bariatric surgery - a procedure proven to prolong life, improve quality of life, and markedly reduce weight-related co-morbidity in those with extreme obesity.

What a sad and salient statement about our health care system.

"To whom it may concern,

Today I am sending you a copy of my obituary so when I die on a waiting list for weight loss surgery that is 10 years long you can see that I tried to get the help and attention needed and its NOT there for me or for anyone. My province's health care failed me and many others who struggle with weight and obesity. Thanks in advance for reading this but please pass this on to anyone who will listen and support this case. WE as tax payers and humans need to be heard and helped. People need to stop putting a stigma and sweeping weight loss surgery under the carpet and realize people are going to die on this waiting list. HELP us help ourselves. I will continue to send this off to anyone who will listen and media included.

Yours truly


Lillian's Obituary

We are sad to inform you of the untimely passing of a young mother, sister daughter and friend. She died at a young age due to complication with obesity that she fought for years to overcome. She was the youngest child of 7 and she leaves behind her 2 sons, who both lived at home with her. Her entire life was lived for her boys who she loved immensely and were her pride and joy. She was survived by her 3 sisters and 3 brothers, along with many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. She loved to sew and do crafts and was an awesome cook and loved to help others and would give what she could to anyone in need. She enjoyed comedy and good laughs. Lillian suffered many years with asthma, server high blood pressure, pain due to stress on her joints from her weight and in the last while was diagnosed with sleep apnea and diabetes. There will be no flowers at her request and the body will be cremated as she would hate to be a burden on her family and have to be carried away to her final resting place by a tractor so she spared her family with finding a mass amount of pallbearers and more stares and jokes about her weight as her beloved family mourns the loss of her as they did throughout her life. She would appreciate if you speak out and support Obesity Weight Loss Surgery and obesity awareness and write a letter to your local MLA and to anyone who will listen.

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  1. Anonymous5:54 am

    If you thought that you would not make it the ten years to get surgery, would you just sit back and leave things going the way they are going, or find another way around the problem? Perhaps there would be a shorter waiting time to see a dietitian. I am sure that diets have been tried, but perhaps a different approach could be taken to help this lady.

  2. Anonymous6:31 am

    I work in health insurance and a client from Nova Scotia told me about the 10 year waiting period. My jaw dropped! 10 years for life saving surgery?! The govt really needs to invest more money into bariatric surgery. It's likely costing them more to treat co-morbidity related health issues. I'm in Ontario and my wait from referral to surgery was 10 months.

    I guess they won't cover out of province or out of country???

  3. Have to agree with the first anonymous comment...what a self-serving, whiny approach. I can't have my free surgery quickly so I'm going to complain about it rather than taking any positive steps on my own and it's YOUR fault if I die? On a more general note, there are some positives to public health care but fostering a sense of entitlement to expensive, elective surgery on demand isn't one of them.

    1. Anonymous10:27 am

      you obviously do not have any health issues just wait, hopefully you do not take the same appraoch with lung cancer, diabetes, or mental health
      Hope you do not work in the health care field

  4. Anonymous7:27 am

    An interesting bit of drama. As a former VERY OBESE lady myself (complete with all of the health problems), who overcame it with education and determination, maybe I can help? maybe I'll just make you mad? Maybe I'll make you mad enough to help yourself?

    1. You have to stop with the self defeating attitude. Writing your own obit? Really?? Have you given up on your own ability to help yourself, rather than wait on our broken health care system to get to you??

    2. From personal experience... I'll tell you this much. FORGET EVERYTHING THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ABOUT DIETING. Conventional wisdom about weight loss is what got us to where we are. Have you been dieting and losing and re-gaining, and dieting and losing and re-gaining... getting heavier and heavier as the years went by?? Stop doing that!! You are dieting yourself heavier and heavier.

    3. Stay away from the big 'diet companies' too... they have an incredibly low success rate and contribute to the diet, lose, re-gain, repeat problem. Dis you know that Jenny Craig is owned by Nestle Foods, and Weight Watcher's is owned by Heinz?? Talk about creating a problem, then selling the solution!

    4. Dieticians are not always the answer either. Some have continues their education after university and have learned more, others are still preaching the out of date info they got from school. One of my very obese, diabetic clients was told ( and showed me in writing) BY A DIETICIAN that she could not have fruit, but Oreo cookies were OK... choose a dietician wisely.

    5. Have you tried EVERYTHING to lose the weight? Have you tried a Paleo style meal plan? If you have NOT tried this, then you have NOT tried everything.
    This saved me when everything else FAILED. Go to Amazon, and GET THIS BOOK, if you haven't already.

    No, I don't know the author, and I have NOTHING to gain from this. Try this meal plan for 30 days. If it does not work for you, what have you lost? $20?? If it does work for you, what will you gain??
    Maybe you can rip up that obit, take your name off of that surgical wait list and stop living in pain and misery.

    Sorry to be such a hard a$$ on this, but sometimes we all need a kick in the bu**...

  5. Anonymous8:19 am

    The attitude of a few of the posters - calling it a whiny approach and "drama" is precisely what the obit talks about. Even Yoni shuns the eat less, move more nonsense but YET people will still hold on to their sanctimonious belief that obesity is primarily a character flaw and is overcame by changes THEY believe others should do. To them I say ... up yours. The failure rate for diets... ANY diet is over 90 to 95 %.

    You can count on the same bozos always wagging their finger and suggesting fat people should just "change their ways", instead of understanding that the problem is FAR more complex than their small minds seem able to comprehend.

    Good on the woman who brings the failure of the health care system to light. Our system is BROKEN, and yet people STILL want to blame the messenger instead of the salient message.

  6. Sarah8:46 am

    Three of the first four commenters have done an excellent job illustrating the stigma Lillian mentions in her post. Surely, they think, if she really wanted to lose the weight and really tried, she'd succeed. In these commenters minds, obesity is a personal failing, not a health issue. Do you tell depressives to just suck it up and be happy, too?

    She's under the care of a physician who referred her for surgery. Presumably she has tried many approaches, and continues to do so. We've only had a very brief glimpse into her life, yet some are willing to condemn her for being lazy and whiny based on a very few lines of text?

    She is doing her part to raise awareness of a flaw in the health care system. She may be taking a dramatic approach, but those are often the ones that get noticed. We have no evidence that she's not continuing to work on improving her health in the meantime.

    Best wishes to you, Lillian. I hope you have many decades of health and happiness ahead of you. Thank you for being brave enough to open yourself up to unfounded criticism by sharing your thoughts.

    1. Anonymous7:51 am

      Well said Sarah!!!
      Clearly these people have never struggled with any kind of "addiction" or major health issue. Which being morbidly obese is both.
      I have struggled with my weight issues since the age of 5yrs old. I got to 300lbs and did end up having gastroplasty surgery in 20yrs ago. It did help me to lose the weight as I couldn't physically over eat. But over the years my "addiction" to food was still there and I did end up gaining back alot of the weight I lost.I got back to 250lbs this year.The surgery fixed my stomach...but didn't fix my head and the addiction. Anyone who struggles with weight issues, be it 20lbs or 200lbs...we all know what we need to do. We are not dumb. Less food in and more exercise. WE KNOW THAT!! It sounds easy enough..but it is certainly not as easy as it sounds.
      These past 8 months I have started AGAIN at the gym and really being diligent in watching what I eat. I have lost 47lbs. Is this the end of my struggle...NO! this struggle is life long...You can take a alcoholics booze away and a druggies drugs away...but we all have to have food EVERYDAY.
      I just watched a TV program that followed Lillian on her journey to Mexico to have surgery. I wish her all the best. I'm also from NS. I hope to see an updated of her story...not even sure what year this was? Good luck Lillian <3

    2. It is quite possible to die from a bariatric surgery as well, and it definitely will not make you more healthy. There are multiple health risks and the sure perspective of a nutrients deficiency. I have an opportunity to observe my neighbor's struggle with health issues after such surgery. She had it 10 years ago, and re-gained all her lost weight back + health complications.
      I have never been extremely obese myself, just struggled with inability to loose weight permanently despite doing always a lot of exercises and never eating fast food unless I traveled, and I thought about myself as a food addict because I used to be always hungry. I lost 50 lbs several times during my life. My troubles came to the end at November 2007 after I tried a LC diet (Dr.Eades "Protein Power"). My warning - re-introducing carbohydrates after a weight-loss will cause a weight regain regardless of what an author of a diet book said. Diet works until you follow it. Anyway, after a bariatric surgery you will have to be on a diet for life. It will not magically put you in the place you want to be

  7. Anonymous9:11 am

    Well said, Sarah. All the best to you Lillian.

  8. Bariatric surgery is NOT a magic wand. Having had two close friends go through it (in the US) it takes months of psychological counseling and DIET/LIFESTYLE changes before you are approved to have the operation...because once you have had it, you NEED to adhere to a very different, very strict diet and lifestyle. Regarding the stigma of obesity...well, everyone I know who is or was (I myself was) obese got there by overeating and being inactive. I actually have metabolic disorder/insulin resistance which PREDISPOSES me to weight gain and fat retention...I learned about nutrition and began an exercise regimen because *I* am responsible for my weight and health...not my doctor, not the government, not the insurance company, not the drug manufacturers...ME. Someone above suggested Paleo eating and I echo that recommendation: it is physically impossible to not lose fat by eating lean proteins, omega 3 fats, vegs/fruit. And eating less/exercising more certainly never hurt anyone, glib as the saying might sound. This self-penned, self-pitying obituary borders on the inanity of people who sue tobacco companies for their lung cancer.

  9. I think it is sad that the wait list is so long. However, I do believe in the power of the human mind to overcome those things that cause us harm. I have been blessed by TOPS, by blogging, by my health care professional - doctor and nurse- who have all encouraged me. Try something sensible. If it works keep it up (For me it was and still is eating right for my blood type)and if it doesn't try something else.
    Writing an obituary is a good exercise for anyone - it helps us define what we will leave behind if we die - so that we can appreciate those things all the more. But now, write a ode to life, and begin to live it. We who struggle with obesity are far more than our excess poundage!

  10. Wow. Just wow. All the self-righteous condemnation in a bunch of the comments is just nauseating.

    How on earth can she have tried everything? Have you seen how many diet books there are currently? There are about 20x that amount out of print. She could not have tried everything in two lifetimes.

    When the paleo diet produces a study that shows 5 year weight loss results that are better than WLS, call me. No really call me. In the mean time I cannot distinguish between it and the diets that cause the loss-regain more problem.

    Good thing that you have deemed her surgery unneeded because I am sure that will save the provinces a bunch of money that they can spend on the skinny people.

    1. There are tons of diet books on the market, but only few diet strategies. The possible problem with paleo - it is addressing young and metabolically healthy people and the people who need to loose a lot of weight, while such different groups have different diet needs. For example, metabolically healthy people can eat fruits and starches, but it will cause a weight gain in the people who have insulin resistance.
      In my case a strict low-carbohydrate diet broke the lost-regain cycle 6 years ago. I doubt any research will be made soon to promote such permanent diet change. The standard approach to a diet is still some crash intervention then return to a "moderation" of some sort. I got used to eating LC permanently because it doesn't keep me hungry.

  11. Anonymous11:18 am

    Bariatric surgery is critical life saving surgery that should be funded but is not. That is the reality. I was not willing to give up the rest of my life or ten years or whatever. I was willing to give up toys and vacations and lifestyle to pay for it. I am a single person, not high income, no assets to speak of, and I managed to sell stuff and save and borrow to pay for it. If you are not willing to take responsibility for your own health, including financial responsibility when necessary, maybe the surgery is not right for you. It still takes a lot of work and commitment post surgery.

  12. QuietSunshine11:29 am

    I was pretty lucky in the weight loss lottery in that when I tried the weight poured off of me. I maintained a 100lb weight loss until a pregnancy and a severe depressive episode and a resurgence of binge eating disorder.

    Ive been working on the binge eating disorder through individual and group therapy. Now it's time to take the 100lbs off that I regained.

    That said having a relatively successful weight loss previously I know I can do it, but I would never judge someone who couldn't because I dont know how their body works, if they have some medical issues we cannot see on the Internet.

    Shaming people by implying they're not trying hard enough doesn't really help anyone.

  13. I never said her surgery was unnecessary. I don't know what she weighs, what she has tried or why it has failed. I agree that for many people, weight loss surgery is their last hope and only option. However, I am saying to throw her hands up and blame the government to get herself some publicity is shameful and this blog post leave me with the impression that the woman in question has given up and refuses to take any responsibility or explore any other options that are available to her. I have millions of American counterparts who think socialized medicine is needed here; this one story is an acute example of why it is NOT.

  14. Norma:

    I see no evidence that she threw up her hands in the air. Maybe she is still dieting, or maybe she can do math and realizes that 95% of all diets fail long term (so unless she is extremely lucky) or gets WLS she is doomed.

    You said: "I have millions of American counterparts who think socialized medicine is needed here; this one story is an acute example of why it is NOT."

    Seriously??? You bash the patient for giving up (in the face of almost impossible odds) and then you use her point (the fact that there are long wait times) to say that socialized medicine is flawed. You do realize that her obit (the self-serving whiny approach), is the way that things will change and that new social problems get fixed in government, right? They don't care unless a majority of voters care.

    I say that she is doing an incredible service for people seeking WLS. She will be vilified by people for taking such a stand, but it will get in the news. And that is how things change. Hardly self-serving, more like self-sacrifice.

  15. Anonymous3:00 pm

    I tried every weight loss program there is, i tried exercise nothing works. Would you say those same things to someone diagnosed with cancer or aids? Morbid obesity is a disease. I'm waiting too, to get my life back, get rid of the pills, the CPAP, pain, jugement.

    1. Here is the blog of a person who lost 160 lbs ten years ago She didn't do exercises, but her diet is still very low in carbohydrates. She had to get a massive skin removal surgery afterwards.

  16. Anonymous3:08 pm

    For the people who think the writer is whining about wanting 'free' surgery, give your head a shake! There is nothing free about our healthcare system, it is funded by our tax dollars and we are entitled by law to services which are covered by our provincial health plan. This includes bariatric surgery in almost every province! Bariatric surgery is elective, just like a knee replacement, gall bladder removal or having cardiac stents put in - when will people realize that all 'elective' means is scheduled surgery (rather than emergency, which is done ASAP). Bariatric surgery is the ONLY weight loss method that is successful for more than 5% of people over 5 years. This is a fact. Many obese people do not have trouble losing weight, but in keeping weight off. Bariatric surgery offers a long term solution. Did you know that yo-yo dieting and the cycle of weight gain-loss-gain is actually more damaging to your body tham just being obese? No wonder she doesn't want to try and fail at another diet!
    People need to demand their rights, especially their healthcare entitlements. If I were the writer, I would sue the NS government to have them pay the costs of having surgery out of province. In Ontario, when the wait lists for bariatric surgery were very long, this was what the government had to do, send people to Quebec and the US for surgery and pay for it. It was very expensive and they have learned their lesson adn now bariatric surgery in Ontario take between 6-20 months depending on your region. A little better than 10 years I'd say.

  17. Anonymous5:35 pm

    I don't know the author or her medical issues but as a person who has lost weight and kept it off, I don't see why she's waiting for surgery instead of taking control of the issue herself. I know it's not that easy. But I do believe that if I was expecting to be dead before the surgery became available I would try other methods while I was waiting for the surgery. Perhaps she is but this article suggests otherwise. My apologies if I am wrong. I do think that there needs to be other options and support available to those who need it as well. It is about education and support and if those services are available there might be a higher than 5% success ratefor diets. Perhaps that is why WLS has higher success rates, they require the patient to use these services as well.

  18. Anonymous8:14 pm

    The Ontario system only offers Lap Band and RnY in 99% of the cases - I wouldn't put a Lap band on a gold fish.

    That said, the Liberal govt delisted the Duodenal Switch (because they had to send people out of the province, it requires more time and skill to do the surgery - whilst the long term success rates of this surg is better than all the others combined).

    As such: The govt is rationing health care. ALL provinces are rationing health care.

    Right now, the waiting time for Ontario RnY numbers are skewed... they only count time from the last in a long line of appointments TO the time of surgery as wait time. When in actual fact, most people start the journey and from the first actual appointment, to surgery is most often over 2 and a half years.

    The whole system is broken, and YET even with facts hitting some of the posters here over the head, they'll still preach their "do more, eat less" bs.

    I paid 20K for the DS - best decision of my life. The sanctimonious types can kiss my permanently shrinking behind. You'd rather tell me what to do than accept simple fact.

  19. Anonymous9:41 pm

    I don't get it.

    Personally, I don't have a weight problem, but I read with interest some of the comments. Seems like there are two basic schools of thought here... people who can't lose the weight, some of whom are considering surgery. On the other side, there seems to be people who have overcome some very serious weight issues without surgery.

    Some of the successful people are actually giving some good advice... one poster even recommended a diet and gave some ideas that helped them to lose a lot of weight. Instead of being all defensive and snotty, why aren't some of the fat people listening to some of the ones who have 'made it'? Do they think that their situations are so unique?

    I really don't get this.

    One person suggested a "paleo" diet. I had never heard of that, so I researched it. There is a ton of good stuff (actual research papers). It actually sounds like a damn healthy way to eat, whether you need to lose weight or not. Then, I read where some other poster got all weird and said something to the effect of wanting to see research on the diet and saying that weight loss surgery was better... well...

    I don't get it...

    This person would rather have their guts permanently mutilated than try a diet consisting of lean meat, eggs, seafood, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, eaten in good sized portions (no starving),?

    I think that while they are under having their stomach stapled, or whatever maiming is happening, they need to have their head looked at too.


    1. Anonymous7:59 pm

      You have never had a weight problem OBVIOUSLY ! What do you do when anything you eat adds weight ?? What if you then go to the other extreme of not eating at all or bulmia to be accepted by people like you. People like you who have no idea of the judgement by people liek you and society who call overweight people "fat people" and have no empathy to the daily struggle ?? Perhaps you should have your head looked at for your narrow point of view ....

  20. Anonymous1:54 am

    @Anonymous (I don't get it.)

    I can understand why you don't get it.

    However, as I watch my wife eating itty-bitty portions two-and-a-half months post surgery and not being hungry while dropping weight like crazy, I wonder how anyone can actually do it without WLS.

    Imagine having to lose the equivalent of a dozen ten-pound-bags of potatoes. That is a daunting task. I've been hanging on to an extra two bags for the past decade - that should be easy to get rid of.

    I have watched my wife "diet her way to obesity". Finally opting for surgery was about admitting that she had tried all the diets, and it wasn't working.

    I get that you don't get it. Spend twenty years watching your partner fight a losing battle with weight, and you will get it.

    See parts of her personality come alive after years being hidden beneath self-consciousness, and you will rage against a system that imposes such a delay in obtaining surgery.

  21. Anonymous7:39 am

    I have had to think long and hard about this post. Disturbing as it is to have someone write their own obit, the responses to it on this forum were equally disturbing. The writer who said we would not tell someone with depression to just pull up their socks and deal is right – although those who don't understand do just that – but we also would not just walk away, those of us who understand would offer some kind of support. Writers who say that she is not accepting responsibility are jumping to conclusions and those who say that she deserves the benefit of the doubt are correct. Obesity is a complicated issue I have been dealing with for most of my life. The social stigma becomes negative self talk which becomes depression or at least depressive behaviour. I was a couch potato slowly getting bigger and bigger and hating myself for it. But there was a problem, all I knew how to be was the fat girl. I would start to lose weight people would comment on it – thinking they were being kind and I would freak out and gain back more than what I had lost – back to my comfort zone. A failure again – although by my own design. I tell you this to illustrate what you already know – weight issues are complicated. 11 years ago I knew that I was sinking into a pit of despair and I reached out for help – depression had set in – thankfully I got the help I needed and over the next couple of years my life began to change. But not my weight nor my eating habits. A couple of years later I started going to BMI and I learned a lot from Dr. Freedhoff and the rest of the crew, I lost weight. I was not able to handle it – I freaked out and I stopped going. I gained back that weight and more – this was the hardest weight gain ever. I KNEW better, I had all the tools, what was wrong with me! This is when the best thing happened – thankfully not a devastating diagnosis. I saw a notice for a binge eating study and I participated in group therapy. For the first time I dealt with issues I never knew I had and I learned that I was not so different from anyone else. There were people of all shapes and sizes in the room some with husbands and children and some not. They all had issues like mine or unique to them but we were the same! Wow. It's been about 5 years since then. I am still obese, I still have body image issues, I still freak out on a regular basis about how I am going to deal with not being the fat girl but I weigh less than I have in years, I have recently discovered that I have ankles, I am active and happy. I accept that changing my behaviour cannot happen overnight and that even the smallest change is a change for the better and worth making. I focus on making good choices every day for that day, planning ahead as much as I can (this tends to freak me out so I don't do more than a couple of days). But mostly I try to focus on not beating myself up for my bad choices. Over the last 5 years it has gotten progressively easier to make good choices but it is still a struggle every day. I am 45 and sure I could have made and could still make more changes faster by putting more energy into it and if I had a health crisis maybe I would. But this is working for me. In my case slow and steady will win the race. This will not work for everyone. (continued in next post) Linda

  22. The polarized views that are expressed in a number of responses to this post really highlight how little we truly understand or care about those individuals with weight issues. Lillian lives in Nova Scotia, where we also live. More than 60% of Nova Scotians are overweight or obese, yet there is precious little to support them. We are not knocking the provincial health system, we are stating a fact. Nova Scotia is actually leading the country in the promotion of policies to support healthy behaviours, but for those with an established weight problem, the picture is very different. We have just completed two research studies in the province. In the first, we created an asset map of weight loss opportunities province-wide. In terms of health care driven, evidence-based approaches to weight management, we found very few and those we found were not well funded or consistently available. We found zero treatment options for individuals with eating disorders if that disorder was also associated with excessive weight gain. In terms of unproven gimmicky weight loss opportunities, we found countless expensive options for the public to choose from, the majority of which pereptuated the myth that weight loss is both quick and easy. In our second study, we looked at how weight is managed in the province across multiple perspectives and found issues of blame to be one of many significant barriers to management especially between individuals and health professionals. These beliefs and preconceptions prevent meaningful and supportive dialogue between individuals and their health care providers, further exacerbating the problem.

    Beyond the individual, we live in an environment that actively discourages the very behaviours that support healthy weights. Obese people are told to eat less and move more, yet our environment promotes the opposite behaviours – eat more and move less. Healthy behaviours are actually the abnormal behaviours in our society. But when people succumb to this obesogenic environment, society wags its finger at them, thereby reinforcing the notion that obesity is a simple matter of overeating and under-activity. This, in turn, creates and reinforces the bias, blame and stigma that Lillian describes in her obituary. A few posters have already pointed out that obesity is complex. Addressing it is also complex and will require changes across multiple levels of society, not just in the realm of health, but in how our towns and cities are designed, in how we regulate our food supply and in developing an awareness that excess weight is not a character flaw. When the rest of society actually understands that, we may see better management of obesity and a reduction in rates. In the meantime, brave individuals like Lillian, who seek to raise awareness of the issue, will continue to be demonized for what many view as a personal failing, rather than a societal one.

  23. Anonymous11:17 am

    (Part 2) I think it is deplorable that Lillian has to wait so long for a life saving surgery and no I don’t accept that because I am on a better path that no one ever needs surgery to save their lives. So Lillian, I get the feeling of helplessness that spurred you to write your obit and I congratulate your courage. I get that you have probably "tried everything" and this just seems too huge a task to take on. Eat right and exercise sounds easy but it is the most complicated hardest thing in the world for many people of size. But I want you to live to have that surgery, to have the strength to continue to make people aware of why it is not some trivial elective surgery. So Lililan, if you do not have a counsellor or psychologist on your “team” get one – I highly recommend it. I firmly believe that weight issues if not caused by psychological issues will lead to psychological issues. I also believe that is the single most important thing that helped me and will be vital to you leading up to and after the surgery. As for diet and exercise, personally I subscribe to Dr. Freedhoff's theory of choosing real food as much as you can and moving as much as possible. As a newly diagnosed diabetic – eating by the rules of the glycemic Index has likely been recomended by your doctor as well. You have potentially 10 years to keep yourself alive before the surgery – an opportunity to get yourself ready emotionally and physically. Practice choosing the good today and worry about tomorrow then. This is enormous – so break it down. Do little bits – I started with a walk around the block – this summer I walked a marathon. Most of all get good supportive people on your team. Do your best to ignore the “you got yourself into this mess you can get yourself out” talk that is so prevalent. This is not "all your fault" but you do play a role in the solution. You can keep yourself alive one choice at a time YOU are worth it!

  24. Anonymous1:47 pm

    I commend Lillian on her courage in bringing attention to this issue.

  25. Anonymous11:04 pm

    This day, July 28 is my cousin's birthday. He died of AIDS in 1992, long before it was no longer a death sentence. He had kaposi sarcoma and his legs were full of blue from the cancer. He worked on his feet up to one week prior to his death. He didn't have any answers to his condition. This gal has answers. I see time and again, extreme obese folks getting help with hard work and dieting and they become normal again. No drugs. No surgeries. This gal does not need to proclaim her own death. She has boys to live for. This self-destructive attitude is part of the problem. What is the wait for therapy?

  26. Anonymous6:08 am

    Truly aweful and saddening to read about this lady's situation. I have no expereince in any of this but would like to make a suggestion:

    Get an Asthma Action Plan from a certified Asthma Educator.

    Would the book "The GI Diet" be of any use? I realize she has a very serious problem, but thought if reducing thre size of the stomach can help, then maybe limiting what goes in it could too.

    Believe and pray in Jesus. I will for you. :-)

  27. Anonymous6:50 am

    Hi, there is an awesome book, titled "Eat to Live" by Joel Furnham M.D (available at the superstore in Sackville) I think it would be highly beneficial for you to buy and read. Both my sister and I who are morbitly obese are having great success on this plan. Please change your life by buying this book, you'll never look back!

  28. Hi,

    First of all, I'd like to say that we understand your struggle. As the owner of Anytime Fitness in Halifax, I have helped people in similar situations.

    We know that exercise is not the magic bullet, it's not an easy answer and it doesn't work by itself. But we also understand (very personally) the struggles of weight control and healthy living.

    We are bombarded with advertising, "fast and easy" food choices, opportunities to do everything from the comfort of our living rooms without ever needing to lift more than a finger.

    WE'D LOVE TO HELP YOU, LILLIAN! In fact, we have pre-arranged for you: a completely FREE ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP, consultation and followup sessions with a certified Master Personal Trainer, Weight loss and Nutrition Specialist!

    We want to help! Lillian, if you have to wait for surgery - then we can help you do something about it while you wait and get you as healthy as possible. (maybe eliminate the need for painful surgery???)

    WE DON'T WANT YOUR OBITUARY TO COME TRUE!!! Please call us at 444-4348 or email

    Very Sincerely
    Robyn Boucher
    Anytime Fitness Halifax.

  29. Anonymous8:20 am

    Hi, read your post and want to say that it seems you're on the verge of a motivational breakthrough--so congrats! The emotions are essential for change and will be the gas you'll need for enhanced and maintained motivation and positive energy over the next 5 years as you rebuild your health and drop some of your weight. In case you didn't notice 5 years is exactly half the wait you'd have for a surgical approach and with significantly less personal risk. Here's my advice, if you want to consider it:

    1. Drop any and all meat from your diet.
    2. Drop any and all dairy from your diet.
    3. Drop any and all oils from your diet.

    The evidence for this is overwhelmingly positive and you can find it if you like to look in other non-conventional directions.

    Next expect consistent, healthy and motivating weight control as you work to maintain this lifestyle. Once your health is improved, your weight reduces enough to boost your energy and ease the joint stress, add in some walking on most days.

    May I also say that you don't need a weight loss surgery, you just need realistic expectations of the weight control period and then to WORK on the emotional, motivational angles because there will be plateaus, which are normal.

    You can do this for yourself.

    1. What?! Drop all meat from your diet and all fat!? I gained weight on a such diet because I was SUPER HUNGRY ALL THE TIME!
      I finally stoped the weight lost-regain cycle with eating fat meat, vegetables with butter. Fat is the key to the satiety.

  30. Anonymous11:16 am

    WOW, first of all, i do have compassion even if it seems like I dont, but the bottom line is why should the tax payers front the bill for someone who has eaten themselves into death , I have struggled with my own weight as we all have i am sure, the bottom line is this woman ate herself into this situation, she has not tried everything obviously!! she didnt stop eating the junk when the pounds were piling on you dont get fat from eating healthy period, and now shes like oops, now i am sure she doesnt want to be this way this is obviously an illness and i myself have eaten because of depression ect, i have an Aunt that actually lives in NS and she has had this operation TWO times!! its not the fix, you have to fix your attitude and eating habits, if you dont fix those two things this operation wont work for you and at this point you are writing your own obit?? obviously you have given up! seriously I smoke, if i die from Lung cancer thats on ME!! what would you say if me as a smoker wrote my own obituary claiming I died from Lung cancer because they put nicotine and toxins in smokes, or if i was a junkie blaming others? really what what you say? This is all on you and the taxpayers shouldnt have to foot the bill for your addiction, get a grip, change your attitude and put the junk food down!! I saw a woman in Macdonalds the other day that was well over 300 lbs ordering 2 full meals for herself oh and DIET COKE please!! you are fat because you eat to much! you have done this to your family , I really hope you do get the operation but if you do change your ways thats the only way it will work, think of ALL the money you have spent on crap food!! all that money could have gone towards this operation, i strongly feel this is on you not the taxpayers

  31. Anonymous1:12 pm

    Weight loss is not some complex affair. To lose weight, you must consume less calories than you burn. Many nutritionists can give you a diet appropriate to your circumstances so you consume less. Many doctors can give you a safe workout routine so you can burn more. I've done it, and it's as simple as that.

    And if this woman truly believes she will die without losing weight, and she *still* can't manage the willpower to do so, then she's the one who is effectively committing suicide and the only finger-pointing she can do is at herself.

  32. Just another in a long, long line of people denying their own personal accountability for the situation that they're in.

    Albeit a 10 year wait for surgery is ridiculous and unacceptable, this surgery is also elective.

    Let's all face facts here folks, obesity doesn't just happen overnight. It's a combination of psychological, physiological, genetic, hereditary and social influencers.

    Medical issues can be treated, your genes and heredity can't. psychological and social issues can be dealt with, but to what degree of success is subjective.

    Obesity usually presents itself in children, then through the teen years... Were no solutions investigated then? What about in her twenties? Thirties?

    To be sedentary about a major health impact for DECADES and then blame the government for your own apathy is baseless and ignorant.

    Take responsibility for your own situation AND CHANGE IT. Stop crying the blues because the government said you can wait.

  33. Kerry4:44 pm

    I would like to invite you to contact me I had Slimband done in 2009 and I went from 390lbs to 205 today 22months later. Also I attend OverEaters Anonymus meetings regularly in the HRM.
    I would encourage you to contact me if you have any questions. Why wait if you're health is your priority do all you can.

  34. Anonymous7:09 pm

    I have been reading all the comments and hesitated to post as the tone here seems to be that she should just eat right and exercise or suck it up. The one thing that a lot of people don't get is obesity is usually a symptom of a bigger issue.

    I am a food addict and it has taken me a long time to admit that because just like many on here I just thought that dieting and working out was enough. I have yoyo'd diet most of my life and each time that I "failed" I would gain all my weight back and then some. Then I would hate myself and beat myself up because I didn't have the "will power"... I dont expect "normal" eaters to understand 100% what I am saying because well I am the one with this addiction and its still hard for me to understand sometimes (I blame years of diet industry and society's view of just "suck it up").

    For a normal eater you can eat something and stop at one serving, certain foods I cant, once I have a certain food a physical reaction occurs where I cant stopping eating it. Or it leads to a kaleidoscope of foods over multiple days in large quantities.

    So the easy answer is stay away for those foods, the complicated reality is like any addiction you must deal with the physical cravings and withdraw as well as the reasons you go to food to begin with. As a food addict I literally get a "high" off certain foods. Just like any other addiction its not a simple answer, but it can be managed.

    I wish people, even if they don't completely understand could at least try and and show some empathy.

    For someone to look at me, they see that I am overweight and probably make assumptions about who I am. They probably wouldn't guess that I run, I have completed a 10k, that I am an active person and on a good day eat less then most people.

    This is a daily struggle for me sometimes even hourly and unfortunately society is not at a point it seems to support those of us who go through this because they only see "lazy, weak and no will power" instead of realizing some of us are fighting for our lives with little support from the medical community.

    That being said like other addictions there are Anonymous 12 Step programs available to Over Eaters and there is hope!

  35. Lil You can try the Hospital in Parry Sound Ontario,I had my surgery done there in 09 and only had a 1 yr wait time,they are doing many of them here with people from all over canada.Thats at the west parry sound health center in Parry sound ontario.


  36. you may wanna try the west parry sound health center in parry sound ontario.Dr.Hunt.
    I had mine done there in 2009 and only had a one year wait time.they have done many there with people from other provinces,U may wanna check it out.

  37. Anonymous9:43 am

    Although bariatric surgery may improve your quality of life, doesn't it also vastly reduce life expectancy? Also, once the surgery is completed, you will have to stick to a diet that is FAR more restrictive than any of the commercial diets that didn't work out for you. In the meantime, this is an approach I believe in: Health at Every Size. The main tenets are: "Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.
    Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.
    Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital."

    Also, has food become a coping mechanism for you to deal with difficult emotions? There is help, some people have benefited from talk therapy, group therapy, or even just working with people whose entire focus isn't on weight loss. Best wishes to you on your journey, I hope you can find the health and vitality you deserve.

  38. dean (oldkatz)4:58 pm

    this sounds like my problem that i had, i just got bigger, yet when i went to see the doctor, all i got was "youre eating to much" i was down to one bowl of soup a day, and still gaining. i used to joke about drinking a glass of water and gaining weight !
    finally a frined put me in contact with a person that had a degree in natural medicines, and had a factory where he produced vitamen and supliment pills and such.

    at the time i was a 68 inch waist, he advised me to intake less sugars, not that i used extra sugars, but to compaire the sugars in the foods, and opt for the one with the less amount, also eating once a day, was no good, i was advised to eat 3 to 4 smaller meals, and i had just been told i was borderline diebetic. so he also advised me to try blueberry pills, as they stabilize the blood sugars.
    well 6 months i went from a 68 inch, to a 58 inch waist. the next 6 months to a 48.
    now im finally down to 43 inch, this last bit is a lot slower now,but i still notice a gradual loss, no more signs of sleep apnoea, and the lasy 16 months my blood sugars are normal as well.
    im not saying this works for everyone, but it sure worked for me.

  39. Anonymous9:29 pm

    recent research shows this illness is not as, rare as once thought, but prejudice towards obesity, is so bad, that that even when someone has this illness, they are years convincing doctors they are not over eating, and to be checked..there is so much hate, in the world towards the obese and its getting even worst, with the media campaign, tagging the boesity epidemic as the cause of all the cost of medical care, its made it a hate situation where by, people are literally being beaten and repeatly abused for being overweight..this is legal..discrimination..I wish the media, would do a show on what they are creating..

  40. Anonymous1:52 am

    I'm surprised nobody's recommended taking up smoking. Or heroin. Or deliberately getting cancer. They work.

  41. Well, this sure is another approach to get the message across and help gain awareness. As sure as I am too, that this lady is not "holding her breath" for this free pass. That she is doing the best she can in trying to find other alternatives in helping herself live a healthier, better lifestyle.

  42. Anonymous4:07 pm

    I refuse to believe that the *only* way for a fat person to improve their health would be to have stomach amputation. Lillian, I sincerely hope you will consider the Health At Every Size(sm) approach as an alternative to dangerous surgery that often results in weight regain and terrible complications.

    Here are some links for basic intro:

    Please be aware that a lot of fat people who do *NOT* want digestive bonsai are being coerced into having it. Docs are saying they can't have other medical treatments that they need unless they undergo gastric guillotine first. It's terrifying!

    Marilyn Wann, FAT!SO? author

  43. Anonymous4:17 pm

    Agreeing with an earlier commenter, what Lillian needs isn't a surgery with a high rate of complication and a high rate of failure (being trumpeted as her "only hope" by the owner of this blog who directly profits from failed weight loss efforts) she needs Health at Every Size. She needs to connect with intuitive eating, with the joy of movement and an embrace of wholeness and wellness, paying attention to metrics beyond the number on the scale.

    Dieting doesn't work. We know that. Even the host of the blog admits that it is not a solution especially for someone who is extremely obese. But surgery isn't a solution either, and waiting and agitating for surgery as a panacea isn't going to do anything positive either.

    - Alleyne Smith

  44. Anonymous8:43 pm

    Lets help make a difference, for Lillian, sign and promote this petition, not everyone has excellence or access to the kind of medical care this blogs doctor offers, if we did there would be less of a problem with obesity.

  45. In case you were unaware, Nova Scotia will pay for some of the costs associated with out of province healthcare that an individual cannot get here. Maybe your situation will apply, as you are on a waiting list that is unsatisfactory for your condition and will adversely affect your health. You can read more here . I work for an aeromedical flight company in Ontario ( ). We have flown worldwide in repatriation cases, as well as medical tourism and are certified medical tourism facilitators. We have access to service providers worldwide and can recommend facility or service providers that meet / better Canadian healthcare services. I do suggest that you research any offers that come your way to ensure that you are getting high quality care, not just free services. Be aware of follow up care after the initial surgery and before you continue with any reconstructive surgery, make sure you know their track record. I read the article on the Chronicle Herald website and thought your comment to speak with the surgeon's patients beforehand. With Ontario's system for bariatric surgery, maybe you can get access to surgery here with assistance from Nova Scotia. If you require any assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

  46. Anonymous10:04 pm

    Hey Lillian : ) and anyone else out there who already KNOWS what they SHOULD do to lose weight - but still cannot control their overeating: consider
    Overeaters Anonymous

    OA is a free 12-Step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, and there are free meetings all over Canada where anonymity is respected.

    Are you an "emotional eater" who can't stop? Do you always say you'll have "just one bite" then eat the whole darn thing? Do obsessive food thoughts and compulsive overeating get in the way of completing your TO-DO list, goals, and dreams?

    "Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who through shared experience, strength,and hope are recovering from compulsive overeating. We welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively."

    Some people who have successfully lost weight via weight-loss surgery have gained it all back due to their compulsive overeating. There is hope!

  47. Anonymous4:06 pm

    Unless any of you that have suggested it's her fault and have offered diets as a solution are morbidly obese then you are all completely ignorant! You have absolutely no business suggesting anything unless you are a medical profession. She is simply making a statement that the option she has chosen has an extremly long wait list...longer that she can wait. I am in the process of waiting for surgery in Ontario, I have been waiting for 6 months and am now going to be seeing a social worker, a Psychologist, and attend Nutrition classes. Once I have the surgery, I was told in 4-8 months I will be followed for 5 years, will be following an exercise program and will be part of a reseach study for Bariatric surgery. I have a degree in Nutritian and a Degree in Nursing and am an RN. I have lost 100lbs, three times in the last 15 years by using very expensive medically supervised diet clinics and have not been succesful at keeping it off. I feel bad that so many people feel they can judge when they have never been in her position. Obesity at that level, requires medical intervention, medical professional not another diet and why is she being denied this medical intervention and I am not just because of where I live? That's the real issue here..not her lack of will power. I Would suggest that you request to be sent to another province or try for Out of country coverage for the surgery sooner....there are some websites that tell you how you can do this but I would look into it. I will have gone through the process in about one year here in Ontario, it's not fair that you would have to wait so long. I'm sorry that so may people are so judgemental.

  48. Anonymous2:19 am

    For some, weight loss surgery is worth the risk. That probably applies to people who've tried improving their lifestyle (through eating healthy foods and becoming more active) for maybe over a decade, and they are still over 300 or 350 lbs.

    For those patients, weight loss surgery should be done in an expeditious and safe manner, with lots of support and follow-up.

    There is some concern that obesity has been defined in such a way that more and more people fall under this umbrella. Those who are marketing the surgery will have a bigger market if patients who weigh 170 to 299 lbs start getting the surgery. But is it worth the risk?

    Isn't a reasonable answer to strike a compromise between all these positions:

    -Have "obese" patients evaluated - for weight, diet and exercise history, and support in their efforts

    -Have patients first go through their choice of weight loss program while under medical supervision (whether something radical like The Biggest Loser or something more conservative like a paleo or Mediterranean diet with regular dietician and personal trainer appointments).

    -Have patients checked for factors which could contribute to weight gain (thyroid problems, family history, etc.)

    -Check patients for factors which make weight unhealthy (diabetes, cardiovascular problems, cholesterol, etc) - not all heavy patients have these issues and sometimes it's ok to be large if you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and feeling good

    -If at the end of this evaluation process, it is clear that the patient needs the kick start of weight loss surgery (because they are more than 100 lbs overweight or over 300 lbs) and the benefits outweigh the risks, then give them surgery quickly.

    -Put standards in place to ensure that spots on the weight list are not being taken by patients who really don't need the surgery.

  49. Anonymous9:26 am

    Seriously? I work in healthcare in the US, I am a medical professional, and I see so many people who have had MORE THAN ONE gastric bypass and they have all FAILED! Gastric bypass IS NOT a silver bullet that some people seem to think it is! You have to change your ways! I've seen some of these people drink melted ice cream, instead of clear broths as suggested, and when you take the ice cream away their families just supply them with more! It is warped and diseased thinking that does this to people; the victim mentality. I've been obese, too, I know it's hard. It's called accountability. Get some!

  50. Anonymous9:56 am

    Lillian needs to read 'Why We Get Fat' by Gary Taubes.

    And then she needs to read through the work of Mark Sisson, Kurt Harris and Robb Wolf.

    If she doesn't take the time to do this (and much of the info is online) then she's not serious about wanting to get the weight off.

    A paleo or primal diet can be extremely successful in someone like Lillian's situation.

    Eat healthy natural foods. Avoid sugars, processed foods and grains and the weight will drop off. There's no reason why Lillian couldn't lose 100 lbs in the first year.

    Check out before its too late.

  51. Anonymous4:28 pm

    The answer is education.
    The most intelligent responses in this thread are those that refer to a learning process or recommended books. The most likely reason that obesity is now rampant is that many people ignore the information that is available. If a person can listen or read, everything you need to know is available.
    If you base your lifestyle on the dysfunctional lifestyle of someone else who ignores facts, then you may feel justified. In other words, blame your parents for your substandard health.
    My parents did not exercise, but I do because I heed what I learned 30 years ago. Yep. We have known the benefits of exercise for several decades already.
    And when I was young, we ate in a way that would lead almost anyone to weight gain and diabetes (my mother is now diabetic). However, as a young adult I learned from what I heard, read and observed. I made lifestyle choices which include regular intense exercise and a healthy diet (most of the time... I'm normal). And a healthy diet does not include: restaurant food, prepared food, salty, sweet, fatty food. A healthy diet includes moderation, variety and denial. An analogy for eating properly is a budget. We are provided with a certain number of calories to spend each day. If a person uses her daily calorie quota wisely on nutrient dense foods, she will ingest the required nutrients (vitamins, minerals, fibre, water) without exceeding the calories. If she consumes too much calorie-rich food which is calorie-rich, devoid of essential nutrients, she will not be adequately nourrished but will gain weight. There are other side effects that accompany poor diets, such as lack of energy, bloating, mood changes. Long term bad habits lead to serious consequences. Can you imagine how many serious illnesses later in life may be related to inadequate nutrient consumption over the years? Look up pH balance and cancer, research the consequences of excessive salt intake, find out what lack of fibre does to the colon over the years. We all have the ability to get information. Read it, discuss it, think about it. Some information is worth incorporating into your life style.
    Don't waste your time attacking my position. My approach and life style work very well for me and my spawn. People with health issues and attitudes similar to Lillian's need to spend more energy learning.

  52. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) is a Twelve Step recovery program offering a solution for anyone suffering from any form of food addiction including overeating, bulimia, under-eating, or food obsession.

    FA has over 350 meetings throughout the United States in large and small cities such as Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Austin, and Washington, D.C. Internationally, FA currently has groups in England, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia.

    If you would like more information about FA, please visit our website.

  53. Anonymous11:26 pm

    "but the bottom line is why should the tax payers front the bill for someone who has eaten themselves into death ,"

    I cannot believe this sort of illogical comment even exists. Seriously? Well, here is the answer. They ought to pay for it for the same reason they pay for treatment for lung cancer for a smoker of 30 years. The same way they pay for the care of someone who refused to take their heart pills and needs expensive by-pass surgery. The same reason they pay to treat someone who was in a car accident for driving drunk or being reckless.

    People who are obese are not blameless when it comes to their weight, but our healthcare system is not about blame. If they only treated those who had an illness that was not brought on by their own actions, as in the examples above, there would be very few people eligible for care.

    It is not reasonable or logical to insist a person not get their WLS paid for by the government when other people making bad choices get everything covered. Not only that, but it has been proven that getting the surgery is cheaper than waiting for it because of the various conditions associated with obesity.

  54. If Lillian thinks it's tough to function now pre-surgery, wait until after her bariatric procedure when she is expected to eat extremely tiny portions of carefully controlled specific foods.

    Dr. Edward Livingston, himself a gastric surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, explains:

    “These operations clearly help some people. If you follow the rules, it works. But most people who get to be 400 pounds aren’t very good at following rules.”

    And one of the true ironies of all bariatric surgery is that basically it’s diseasing the stomach, according to the University of Chicago’s Dr. Eric Oliver, author of 'Fat Politics', who explains:

    “This surgery takes a healthy organ and inhibits its proper functioning, meeting the authoritative Stedham Medical Dictionary definition of a disease.”

    Dr. Wendy Scinta is also a bariatrican who sits on the board of trustees for the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, but even she claims:

    “It takes just losing 5 – 15% of your body weight to reverse most weight-related health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and this amount can be lost with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.”

    And "diseasing the stomach" is not the miracle cure for her poor health that Lillian somehow believes it will be, as Dr. Scinta warns:

    “Even (after surgery), they will struggle long term without lifestyle changes. There is a reason why the post-surgical suicide rates are unexpectedly high.”