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Monday, September 04, 2006

More of Life's Little Instructions

Here I am, sticking to my convictions :-)

I feel pretty strongly that it's fine to have opinions, but it's not always fine to express them (ha--coming from inside a blog that is nothing but opinions). I found the whole Tom Cruise thing interesting because he still feels the need to express his opinion on something that apparently has nothing to do with him--neither Brooke Shields nor depression itself. He isn't saying that taking vitamins worked for him or that he has ever suffered from depression and tried non-drug therapies. And I always wonder the purpose of those opinions.

I'm trying to figure out how Brooke Shield's taking antidepressants affects anyone other than Brooke Shields. You could make an argument that it affects her family. But you can't really tell me that Tom Cruise is affected by the personal actions of Brooke Shields to treat her depression. Not in any significant way.

And I feel the same way about everyone else's medical choices. They may not be the same choices I would make, but everyone is entitled to their own personal choices as long as your actions to not negatively impact another person. You may choose to take antibiotics at the drop of a hat, and I may choose never to take antibiotics if I can help it. And I don't need to tell you my feelings on antibiotics. It doesn't serve any purpose--especially after you've taken the antibiotics. What is the purpose of Tom Cruise expressing his opinion about Brooke Shields after the fact? To keep her away from antidepressants? She's already done that. I think it's just to make her feel like shit. Not intentionally, but if he took a moment to consider his words and their purpose, I think he would see that these opinions (like many of the ones we receive daily in regards to infertility) do not actually serve their intended purpose, but they do make the receiver feel like crap.

Which brings us to the third topic in the stigma trifecta. After depression and infertility, the third taboo topic that garners no respect and a lot of opinions...bariatric surgery and obesity. Does this sound familiar? You could go on a diet. You could exercise more. It's a matter of willpower. Join Weight Watchers. Join Jenny Craig. My friend's sister lost 200 pounds by eating only grapefruit three times a day.

It sounds familiar because it's very similar to the lame advice we're given about infertility. Does the speaker actually believe other ideas weren't tested before turning to bariatric surgery? Does the speaker actually believe I haven't tried all of their ideas before I turned towards fertility treatments? And can't they accept that if the person makes this choice that it is the best choice for that person? Just as A.R.T. was the best choice for me. It may not be the best choice for you--either due to your own opinions or the advice of your doctor. But it was the best choice for me. And in reality, it doesn't affect you. It only affects my husband and my children. And no one else.

So it makes me angry when people suggest that I didn't try enough other things before turning towards the extreme. Or I didn't try the right things. I did what was best for me. What was best for my family. What the doctor believed would work the best. What was financially feasible.

Last night, I was reading the letter-to-the-editor section of People while trying to enjoy a spinach burrito when I read this comment on a family who had undergone gastric bypass surgery:

"While I applaud the Sheltons for choosing to change their lifestyle, I balk at the extremes they took to get there," writes Jennifer May of Stockton, California.



To be honest, I didn't even know I was suppose to form an opinion on gastric bypass surgery. I had been under the impression that it was something I knew nothing about, therefore, I should probably not form an opinion on it. And beyond that, I was under the impression that people made decisions that fit them best and therefore if they utilized gastric bypass, it was the best choice for them. Not that I blindly follow the advice of doctors without doing a bit of my own personal research, but I am paying for health care and their professional opinion. Therefore, if a doctor recommended gastric bypass, I would have to say that it's probably an option that should be strongly considered.

The next comment could have applied to infertility as well:

Adds Jennifer Christiansen of Sussex, Wisconsin: "Instead of spending $11,000 per person on gastric surgery, how about [hiring] a personal trainer and nutritionist?"

If I had $11,000, I would certainly turn it over to Jennifer Christiansen because she has great ideas on how to spend health care dollars. I trust her even more than my doctors. I mean, my doctors only went to medical school for four years and then completed years of residency programs or additional training. Jennifer Christiansen probably went through that much training--IF NOT MORE--in order to form her opinions on gastric bypass surgery. Of course, all mental health decisions will be turned over to Tom Cruise.

Let's all try this one from The Stirrup Queen's Little Instruction Calendar: September 5, 2006: you don't need to express your opinion on any medical procedures that do not directly affect you or a close loved one. Let's leave the opinions on the validity of a medical procedure to an expert. Let's trust that other people make decisions that are best for them and their family. At the same time, pass along information and opinions that you have directly experienced.


Southern Comfortable said...

Yikes. I don't think gastric bypass is a surgery people undergo lightly. It's major, major surgery, and typically recommended only where diet and exercise aren't enough. More than that, it requires a complete lifestyle overhaul. The folks who go through gastric bypass, to my understanding, have to severely limit their food intake for the rest of their lives. They aren't supposed to have alcohol. Foods can affect them in ways they never did before. It's big stuff. Anyone who can take on that sort of a commitment gets a standing ovation in my book.

~r said...

I'm still amazed that people think any of these treatments (for depression, infertility or obesity) are chosen lightly... or that they (the general public) have a right to comment on someone else's decisions.

Although I have to admit that unwanted opinions and advice have made for some very thought-provoking blogs I've read in the past.. so maybe they're not entirely worthless, just rude.. and rude people make great blog fodder.

C said...

A-men. How arrogant do you have to be to make a statment like, "Instead of spending $11,000 per person on gastric surgery, how about [hiring] a personal trainer and nutritionist?" Yes, because it's so logical to assume that radical surgery was this woman's first choice. That she didn't try every diet and exercise plan available before deciding to do surgery.

You never know everything that's going on in someone else's life. You never know what trials and tribulations they've lived through behind closed doors. It's not your life, not your body, and it's not your place to judge.

TeamWinks said...

Dear Tom,

I am writing to you for medical advice. You see, my doctor's don't know whether I have a unicornuate or bicornuate uterus. In your expert opinion, what do you believe I have and should do as a result? What medical tests and drugs should I avoid to comply with scientology? Thanks for your much anticipated advice, because I know how much experience you have with all of this!


(gag me)

Emmie said...

Great post. One of my friends underwent gastric bypass surgery last year. She actually told no one until afterwards just to avoid all the assvice. She did what was right and recommended for her, and I am sad she had to hide it so long just because people feel their personal opinions are as valid as facts. Needless to say, she has been one of my biggest supporters with IVF.

LutherLiz said...

Thank you for your post. I'd like to add one other dynamic that you didn't address.

I have not dealt with IVF directly, although several of my friends have, but I do deal with obesity as a very real issue in my life.

It is true that there are people out there who look and me and say (often to my face), "if you just started working out and didn't eat so much fast food you could lose weight" (As if these people assume I don't work out (I do) and don't try to watch what I eat (I do that too). They assume that I'm fat because I'm not trying to be skinny.

On the other side of the coin, there are other people (including some who used to be large who had gastric bypass) and the doctors. I went through 4 or 5 doctors before I found one who didn't say to me, "You should just have gastric bypass, you'll never be able to succeed on your own, why bother trying" EXCUSE ME?

It is a huge dilemma in the world. Half of it views fat people as that way by choice and half thinks that we are so hopeless that only major surgery can fix us.

The fact is, that it works for some people, it doesn't for others. I know someone who died from gastric bypass (It doesn't make me eager to try it myself), I know people who are seriously sick from it, I know people who have lost weight the "normal" way and those who still struggle daily.

It is as confusing a medical issue as IF can be. And in the end NO ONE can decide what is right for me with regards to weight loss, and NO ONE can decide for anyone the right way to deal with IF, or depression, or whatever.

But unfortunately it doesn't stop them from trying.

megan said...

giving you the thumbs up on that post. my best friend just gave me the "if you just relax it will happen" when I came out about our if. how can she who had an abortion and gets pregnant easily tell me that all I need to do is relax? argh.
but I was also stopping in to relay this info for those of us who have lost angels.
help get the word out!

The Town Criers said...

Megan--I was going to post about October 15th when it got a little closer. I was just on the website a few days ago.

LutherLiz--that's exactly it. One treatment does not fit all--either emotionally, physically, or financially. Which is my whole frustration with anyone offering the "why don't you..." kinds of comments for any medical issue. Minutes ago, I was just reading a book and writing in the margins things like, "okay" and "not for me." Because only you (and sometimes doctors) know what is best for you. And I qualify that sometimes because I think there are many doctors out there giving very definite opinions that are disproven time and time again...