12 Jul

Obese and Depressed….But now!!

Ever since I began giving surgical treatment for people suffering from morbid obesity, I receive a steady flow of patients from many African countries and the Middle East. Amanda (name changed to conceal the identity of the patient) was one such patient I received. She was morbidly obese and depressed. She landed in Chennai on a wheelchair looking to get a bariatric surgery in India.

Amanda and her co-morbid conditions

Amanda hailed from Nigeria, a country in the West of Africa from where I receive patients frequently. The morbid obesity had made her quite depressed and her suffering was written all over her face. She had almost every co-morbid condition one could think of.

  • Her type-2 diabetes was hitting the roof. High blood sugar level is a major co-morbid condition that affects most severely obese.
  • Had high blood pressure. A norm with most severely obese because the body has to increase the pressure to supply blood to the obese body parts.
  • She could not walk. Her obesity had crossed a threshold that her weight-bearing joints could no more support her movement. So she was confined in a wheelchair.
  • She had developed breathing problems. It may be noted that the breathing problem is quite common in individuals with severe obesity because the accumulated fat in the abdomen pushes the lungs upwards. This severely constraints and restricts the lung to breathe its full capacity.
  • She had sleep apnea. The breathing problem aggravated the sleep pattern.
  • Some morbidly obese do have gallstones in their gallbladder. The probability is higher in obese women. Amanda was no exception and she had gallstones too.
  • She suffered from severe anxiety that had led her to depression. Her depression worsened because she was a single mother and she could not move around caring for her child.

Amanda and her Sickle-cell Anemia

To complicate things further Amanda had sickle-cell anaemia too. This congenital disease is common in the West African region. People affected with sickle-cell anaemia suffer such symptoms like pain in the joints, dizziness and fatigue due to the low oxygen carrying capacity of the sickle-shaped red blood cells. Amanda’s morbid obesity had made her more symptomatic to her sickle-cell anaemia.

Amanda and her Fibromyalgia

Amanda had fibromyalgia. It is considered a psychosomatic condition that has no specific reason for the occurrence. Patients complain of severe muscle pain all over the body. They feel fatigued and tired always. Amanda had this condition and even a simple touch was painful for her.

Amanda’s Bariatric Surgery in India

As Amanda landed in Chennai in her wheelchair, she had little hope. She had heard of bariatric surgery through a source and thought of giving it a try as a last resort. Her meagre hope landed her in Chennai and there she was sitting in front of me and asking questions on the weight loss surgery procedure.

I went through her reports thoroughly and was convinced about the Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y bariatric surgery type. I suggested her owing to her co-morbid conditions. I recommended getting her gallbladder removed in the same surgery to avoid future problems from gallstones. Amanda was convinced about the surgery and I performed the weight loss surgery.

Amanda’s condition after Bariatric Surgery in Chennai

Amanda made full recovery from morbid obesity. Her co-morbid conditions vanished. She now moves around freely and is no more in need of a wheelchair. She has made a full recovery from depression and is able to caress her children well. More importantly, her symptoms of sickle-cell anaemia and fibromyalgia have decreased and she now leads a happy life in Lagos, Nigeria. As her bariatric surgeon, sharing her experiences makes me feel happy.