Is this operation really necessary?
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
Mother and daughter have their first appointment with the surgeon. The surgeon, an amiable man, says of the daughter, "She is an excellent candidate for stomach-reduction surgery, but, before we can safely operate, she must lose at least 10 kg weight. I will see you both in three months".
Mother and daughter go home and enthusiastically embark on losing weight, dieting, power-walking and going to the swimming fitness classes. Three months later, a thinner, though still obese daughter and even thinner mother are at her next appointment. The surgeon says, "Congratulations, you have lost at least 15 kilograms, we will now proceed with the surgery".
The surgery goes well with the nursing staff describing the surgeon's work as "brilliant". She loses many more kilograms of weight, while Mum regains all the weight she lost, plus more. But there were complications within weeks that required periods of hospitalisation. During one hospital stay, they forgot her vitamins and blindness set in, presumably from a severe vitamin deficiency.
The personal cost to this young woman and her family is incalculable. The cost to the taxpayer is at least $30,000 for the surgery, plus hundreds of thousands more - perhaps millions - over her lifetime to manage the ongoing complications to her health and the disability that comes with the loss of vision.
Was the surgery the right decision? Would it have been better for the surgeon to delay the operation while insisting mother and daughter continue with the diet and lifestyle that brought about the initial weight loss for both of them? The answer is obvious, but the wheels of modern medicine are huge and their momentum great, with profit - not health - the actual goal. Once on the medical conveyor belt, it is nearly impossible to get off it. We are all mere widgets on the great medical production line.
Here are a few questions to ask of yourself when considering surgery
Do I really need it?
Is it really as urgent as might appear to be the case?
What are the known complications (remember, less than 10% of complications get reported)?
What is the worst thing that can happen if I wait a while?
What are the non-surgical options (there usually are, but seldom are these offered with enthusiasm)?
"Body, heal thyself". If I make some changes to lifestyle and diet, can I stop or even reverse this ailment?
Lifestyle changes take time and effort to kick in: have I really done enough, or should I take more time and redouble my efforts?
If I have this operation, how will this change my life for the better?
While there may be benefits short term, what are the long-term outcomes, such as more or fewer years of quality-living?
How will my life be if there are complications?
What is that sub-conscious voice of self-preservation telling me to do?
For many conditions, other than things like broken bones and raging infections, there are usually excellent conservative alternatives. These seldom get a look-in and often undermined by others.
There is a war on any natural and conservative therapies that does not involve trade-marked or patented products and procedures. Modern medicine is now a gigantic business. It is no longer really about health, but the all-mighty dollar.
Excellent non-surgical solutions abound for most chronic health issues, but they take time, they are not taxpayer-subsidised and usually involve breaking old habits which is not always easy to do. Surgery may come across as being sexy, quick and easy, but is it really the best option for you? Ask yourself this question.