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Obesity Surgery

Stories Of Altered Lives

Marta Meana, Lindsey Ricciardi

Publication Year: 2008

The surprising and unpredictable story of the personal and social after-effects of rapid and dramatic weight loss. Using in-depth, first person accounts of 33 men and women who underwent weight-loss surgery, this book elaborates on the complexities of finally getting what you wished for – the good, the bad, and the totally unexpected.
• Suddenly being treated well by previously dismissive strangers is embraced by some, yet it angers others who question a kindness reserved only for the non-obese.
• Attention from the opposite sex is both flattering and scary, as many have little experience dealing with such advances.
• Marriages and relationships are rocked for better and for worse, as jealousy, insecurity and shifting roles jolt previously stable dynamics.
• All the changes provoke a re-evaluation of who one is and what one values.
This is the story of how dramatic weight loss can result in personal growth, with all of its attendant joys and painful challenges. We live in a culture fascinated by physical make-overs, but no one talks about their psychological consequences. Losing a lot of weight is perhaps the most extreme make-over of all. It leaves people emotionally changed. These changes are the heart of our book. The fascinating narratives contain important lessons for individuals considering or having had the surgery and for those who try to help them. The material will be of personal significance to the lay-person but it is also a guide for health providers in the design of pre- and post-operative support interventions. At a more basic level, it is simply a story of how finally getting what you’ve always wished for can be much more complicated affair than you ever imagined.

Published by: University of Nevada Press

Cover

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pp. Cover-ii

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

This book has no agenda other than to provide the reader with a collective account of life before and after obesity surgery from the perspective of a group of individuals who are likely to be representative of many people opting for this surgery. This is neither a pro- nor an anti-obesity surgery book. It aims simply, or perhaps complicatedly, to explore how this procedure ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Six years ago, we attended a prospective-patient seminar on gastric bypass surgery. Our training in health psychology had made us a little skeptical of surgical interventions for behavioral problems, but we wanted to learn more about the procedure and the people who were considering it. Sure, we were ...

Part I Getting There from Here

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pp. 9-10

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Chapter 1 Taking the Leap Deciding on Surgery

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pp. 11-53

If you stood on a street corner at rush hour in any American city today and asked every passerby whether they would like to lose some weight, most would say yes. If you then asked them why, people would smile and say either to look better or to be healthier. Losing weight would be nice, and it makes an annual appearance on their lists of New Year's resolutions. For a ...

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Chapter 2 Responding to the Kindness of Strangers Now You Don't See Me, Now You Do

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pp. 54-100

It seems a cruel irony that at 500 pounds we can feel as if nobody sees us. Yet the experience of feeling invisible seems to be a common one in individuals from stigmatized minorities, as they navigate the world of the dominant majority. Ralph Ellison's seminal novel about racial prejudice in the United ...

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Chapter 3 Changing the Dynamics in Your Inner Circle Your Change Becomes Everybody Else's

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pp. 88-130

We have illustrated the many ways in which the world of strangers and acquaintances started reacting differently to our interviewees after the weight loss. Suddenly, cashiers and waiters were smiling, strangers no longer ignored or stared or mocked them, colleagues started to pay attention to their ideas at work, and the opposite sex...

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Chapter 4 Deconstructing the Self Who Was I and Who Am I Becoming?

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pp. 131-158

You get wheeled into the operating room, and the surgeon's scalpel dramatically alters your gastrointestinal system so that when you exit, it is physically impossible to eat anywhere near the amounts you ate before. You simply get violently ill if you try. The result is rapid weight loss. Great! Fabulous! The ...

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Chapter 5 Facing the Music of Self When Weight Is No Longer the Reason

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pp. 159-190

Despite the tremendous growth in the popularity of obesity surgery in the past few years, it is still considered a relatively extreme intervention. It involves very direct surgical interference with our anatomy and physiology. It has significant risks and, depending on the type of surgery recommended ...

Part II Mapping the Journey

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pp. 191-192

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Chapter 6 Greater Than the Weight of Our Parts Making Sense of It All

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pp. 193-211

Everyone is fascinated by before-and-after photographs, no matter the topic. We are drawn to the results of transformations, from bad to good and from good to bad. The transformation of a city from hamlet to metropolis, from bustling market district to bombed-out remains, from ghetto to gentrified neighborhood. We especially like to see transformations in people from ...

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Chapter 7 Through Thick and Thin

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pp. 212-232

When individuals opt for obesity surgery, they make a big investment. They have to take time off work, they cannot fulfill family duties for a while, they risk surgical complications, they spend money. Ensuring that this investment will result in good returns is a priority. For most people, that means ...

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Concluding Note Neither Weight nor Weight Loss

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pp. 233-234

Six years ago, thirty-three people sat down with us and graced us with their stories of how severe obesity and then weight loss had affected their lives. Their rich stories and impressions were about so much more than diets and pounds lost. They told a universal story of the complexity of human experience and how any attempt to reduce a life down to one component is no ...

Selected Resources for Public and Health Professionals

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pp. 235-240

Notes

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pp. 241-254

Bibliography

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pp. 255-262

Index

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pp. 263-267


E-ISBN-13: 9780874177411
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874177398

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2008