Sunday, October 15, 2006

Great Time to be fat

Mills of the gods

All my life I have been lucky in the medical sense. I was a small child when the polio vaccine was invented. I have witnessed (and will not tell you if I have participated or not) i drug revolutions that have cut down depression, baldness and impotence. I have seen over all cancer survival odds climb to 50/50 and in some specific cancers beat 90%. Procedures have been invented to make every test for every malady less intrusive, less painful and less expensive. O.K., that last one was a big lie, but believe me, if you ever had a kidney stone you would be happy to pay for the procedure. Now comes the next big break through.

Bariatric Surgery is about to become simpler than a tonsilectomy. That's right, stomach stapling to combat obesity will, within a few years, be done with a tube inserted through the mouth instead of requiring an incision. The concept behind bariatric surgery was always pretty simple. If you make the stomach smaller, you will not be able to eat as much. my theory was that it would be a lot cheaper and just as effective to staple a good portion of the mouth shut, but the idea never caught on. Now doctors say they will be able to do stomach staples in the office. Hell, the procedure will probably be over the counter within a couple of years.

How is this being accomplished ? Natural orifice transendoscopic surgery (or 'NOTE") requires no cutting because it will use long tubes with robotic arms and staple guns to go through the mouth and down the esophagus and into the stomach. If you are like me, a couple of things stand out from this explanation. First, any procedure with the word "orifice" in it makes me clench up just a bit. I don't know a lot, but I know that pretty far down the list of things I'd like to have done to me, would be having a robot stick its arm up a certain one of my orifices while the robot held a staple gun in said arm. Indeed, the story I read indicates that these insurments can be inserted through the (gulp) rectum.

The second issue is the staple gun. A staple gun ? You want to stick a staple gun up my rear and trust R2D2 over there to staple my stomach together ?Now these doctors (who are from Cleveland mind you) assure us that using the rectum, or any other natural orifice drives the risk of surgery way down. Maybe for the patient. I'm pretty sure that the risk to the surgeon goes way up, the closer that robot gets to my rectum."Gaining access to the organ you want to work with is half the trauma" said one of the doctors. Well a staple gun up the rear is not going to improve that statistic any. You want to talk about "trauma", it is traumatic just to consider the possibility.

But assuming that natural queasiness to the procedure can be overcome, we may be seeing the end of obesity. That is, if the procedure is approved. And there are hundreds of well paid lobbyests out there, representing everything from the fast food industry, the diet pill industry and the national gym chains to the maufacturers of plus fashions fashions who are going to try to stop this. Our economy can not exist at its present level without a third of the population being obese. Can't be done. Who would buy the commercial time on cable channels ? What would Burger King do if no human stomach could hold a Big Mac (much less the fries) ? What fun would that TV show, where everyone loses weight be ? Then before you know it, the technology will be used overseas and our primary American exports (Frito/Lay, McDonalds,Coca-Cola) are finished. The American way of life will be over. Think about that before you let that robot arm near you.

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