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Dorien Grey

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Jack Spratt's Wife
4/12/2010 3:36:04 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

Compassion for other people's addictions too often ends in frustration over the failure to comprehend the cause...and the addicted's resistance to help.
We live in a world of addictions, and I really do like to think of myself as empathetic to the majority of ills which afflict humanity. I try not to be judgmental, or unkind to those who are affected. I lost my mother to smoking, and my partner Ray to alcohol. But I have been watching a TV reality show on morbid obesity which I fear has tried me sorely and found me wanting.

The program centers on the patients at a New York clinic for people who weigh upwards of 450 pounds (two have been over 1,000 pounds), many so heavy they can no longer walk. They cannot care for themselves, cannot take a regular bath or do most of the things they claim they want so desperately to do. But what they can do is eat. The clinic has every patient on a strict, healthy diet designed to help them lose weight. Unfortunately, the patients also have access to a telephone and, upon finishing their specially formulated meals, use the phone to call out for pizza, fried chicken, anything soaked in grease. Some consume more than 13,000 calories a day (average recommended is, I believe, around 2,100). The cameras lovingly zoom in on them stripping an entire chicken leg in one bite and shoveling in gigantic slices of pizza and cake and licking their fingers so as not to miss that last calorie.

Some of the patients do evoke sincere sympathy. One 400 pound woman who seriously wants to lose weight lost 20 pounds in two weeks. But while doing this her two sons, 24 and 26 years old and 320 and 360 pounds respectively sit at home and wear out their dialing fingers ordering in junk food. One son has been recently experiencing chest pains and a numbness in his left hand yet claims, as he stuffs fistfuls of French fries into his mouth, that he has no idea what the problem might be. At the request of their mother, a dietician from the clinic prepared a healthy menu for them, which all they had to do was follow. They laughed as they read it and after one day, went out to their favorite pizza joint for a double jumbo with the works.

I cannot imagine how they can possibly afford their food bills.

As with most addicts, be it drug, alcohol, or whatever, the morbidly obese at the clinic offer up a myriad of reasons for their condition, the only one never seriously considered…and in fact never even mentioned…is their own responsibility.

(And as I write this, growing more and more righteously indignant and angry with these people… “Fer Chrissakes, lady, put down that damned pork chop and think!!”…I remember one night in Los Angeles when Ray was on one of his binges. He was sitting in the middle of the living room floor, a bottle of bourbon between his legs, sobbing. “I don’t want to be a drunk!” he’d say, then immediately take a long swig of bourbon…. And my own mom, as she lay dying of lung cancer, looking like a tiny withered doll hooked up to a myriad of machines and with tubes running in and out of her body, said, with all innocence: “If only I had known.” I still cry when I think of that one.)

So I guess this entire blog has been something of an exercise in ambivalence, and in the end an example of “judge not lest you be judged.” I do try not to judge. Really. But dear Lord!!

*****

Another entry will be posted next Monday. Please come by. In the meantime, you're invited to visit my website (http://www.doriengrey.com), or drop me an email at doriengrey.att.net



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The Graveyard of the Pacific by Anthony Dalton

A collection of stories about shipwrecks along the west coast of Vancouver Island and Juan de Fuca Strait...  
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