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More about Jackie, the 627 lb Lady

I have been considering exactly how to respond to comments from my mom and Tonya (who is my sister).  For the most part I agree with them, but I feel the need to clarify. 

I do not believe that Jackie got herself in the car.  I’ve been around amateur filming enough to understand editing a bit.  If there had been something to uphold the message of the filmakers, that Jackie was a woman overcoming a difficult situation, then it would have been shown, even if a little snippit of it was shown.  Instead, we cut from her wailing to her profusely directly to her already being in the car and thanking her companion (a hired home helper) and the film crew.  I’ve thought about any other reason for keeping the process of her getting in the car out: could it perhaps have been too embarrassing or too far over the line?  I doubt it, for there were much more embarassing situations shown.  Even part of the process would have sufficed, and it all can’t have been over the line for there is a great deal else of her situation shown that is, well, sorry for this, but grotesque. 

Which brings me to a second point:  She didn’t happen, by chance or candid camera, to find herself in a position where people could judge.  She put herself out for our television consumption.  She allowed the cameras to film her during the operation and through the complications of her recovery. Modesty was preserved, and things were delicately said, but her dignity did not come through that ordeal intact. 

In fact, one of my biggest questions as I watched, and I did not see the whole thing, was why is she had invited the camera, and thus the English speaking public, so intimately into such a personal battle? 

There are, in fact, good answers to that question that are more worthy of being the ‘dragon’ that she slays (as opposed to getting into the car).  My sister has the part of it: we can learn from her mistakes.  Whether or not this was her intention, it is a consequence.   It does pose a question though: Are we pushing people below us when we use their problems to gain helpful knowledge?  When we see someone who struggles with a problem that they may largely be responsible for, are we judging them and being unkind by saying “Because I’ve seen you there, and I see what you did to get there, I will never do that.”?   

But there is yet another thing to be learned from this film.  They weren’t just her mistakes.   How should such a problem be dealt with by medicine?  Because one thing we are told is that throughout all the weight gain, she was under the care of doctors.

We can be sure that she was well advised on diet and exercise.  She was probably often told what she already knew: “You need to lose a few pounds.”  But as the years went by, and the problem became literally bigger and bigger, how did her doctors react?  I’m not sure.  We know that at one point, she began to lose weight, had a setback, and was diagnosed with a hernia that would not be operated on because of her weight.  Her weight gain then increased.  She began desperately searching for a doctor who would perform bariatric surgery on her and was told that she was too overweight for the procedure.  She finally found a doctor who specialized in working with such large people, and had the gastric bypass done. 

Throughout the show, the portion I watched, at least, we saw her treated well.  Perhaps it was just the cameras.  Perhaps it is her naturally good and sweet nature.  But I think it was a good example of how we should see people with similar problems treated.  

Still, no matter the good will towards her that we saw, I say that she did not recieve appropriate treatment at the hands of doctors before the events we witnessed.  I don’t want anyone to take this as doctor bashing.  This is a relatively new problem doctors and hospitals are facing.  At least, morbid obesity is no longer such a rare occurance as it once used to be.  What needs to happen is a change in how it is treated.  And that is something else this movie did: give us some things to ponder about.  I have my own ideas, but that is another post for this blog.

My point is that there was a lot to learn from this film.  She had to have known that she would be judged and perhaps ridiculed.  To bring the cameras into her life at that point was a brave venture.

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