Being one of life’s overweight people who are unfortunate enough to be regarded as Morbidly Obese, I am regularly belittled and derided for my size. Even when a trip to a medical establishment looks likely to be on the cards – somewhere a person should be safe from such things. I almost have to prepare myself for the weight related remarks that will leave the medical professionals lips during our meeting. Trust me, this has happened on an all too regular basis, but now the tables are turning. You see perversely, I have become a much-needed commodity for medical professionals running clinical research studies specializing in the overweight demographic. I know this because I have been asked to partake in three in half as many years.
It appears that as soon as you are on the Doctors “database” you automatically become a prime candidate for all researchers looking to determine how being fat affects the body’s behavior and how the internal organs, especially the liver, differ from fit and healthy “normal” sized people.
The reason why they do this with weight loss surgery candidates is because they can have a guaranteed measurable quantity that is not subject to the different physiologies that come with different candidates of different sizes. It may take longer but having a patient like myself will give far more accurate as I lose weight and get smaller putting my internal organs into different stages along the way but not actually changing anything about them apart from their size, fat content and function.
I was first approached by someone looking for an obese candidate to help a clinical trial into Sleep Apnoea. This meant drawing bloods and taking tissue samples from my Adipose fat layer. The drawing of the blood was not too bad apart from the extensive search for a vein, but the fatty tissue harvesting was horrific. It was a pin that fired from a container into the stomach, extracted the sample and then retracted itself back into the container. However, this wasn’t done simply the one time, no, they need three samples.
What a joy that was.
I was then subjected to thirty minutes in an MRI machine (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) with my arms above my head so they could take continual images of my chest cavity and my stomach – very painful and was followed by test to establish
my bone density, my fat content, my resting metabolic rate and my relative skeletal muscle index – whatever the hell that is!
And my reward for undergoing all of this, I was tested for Sleep Apnoea earlier than the standard waiting list, so worth it in the end.
My second trial started a few months ago when at one of my Bariatric Weight Loss Clinics, I was asked by the nurse that my appointment was with would I be interested in helping with a trial that one of the resident’s was currently undertaking on the subject of whether the liver has any bearing on the weight of an individual. It sounded most interesting so I agreed. He was hoping to achieve knowledge that would allow him to understand whether our liver actually determines whether we are prone to putting on weight as opposed to remaining slim. The age-old question of why one person can eat absolutely anything they want and pretty much any quantity yet not put on weight, whereas someone like myself only needs to walk past a bacon sandwich (alright, alright, it can be done!) and they put on weight from simply inhaling the same air as the sandwich. These people are still prone to the same diseases of liver failure when drinking too much, heart failure from eating the wrong foods and smoking etc but the never appear to put weight on. That trial is still ongoing but wouldn’t be great if they could work out the reason and then simply share that mark of the gene between fat and thin to get a perfect size…!
Today I have just started a new clinical trial to determine if MRI’s scans can be used to measure liver scarring and fat and iron deposition, not very exciting sounding and once again, I get to spend time in that bloody MRI machine, have my blood taken (oh joy of joys) and finally get measured. They call measuring my midriff taking a circumference reading. Not my finest hour I can tell you. This will no doubt lead into a long drawn out trial over the next twelve months as they take samples and measurements from me to see if anything has changed, as I get smaller from my weight loss.
So what am I getting at?
Well it’s simple, the next time you see a large person and you want to make a remark, just hold back because they could very easily be involved in research that could one day save your life, or better still the life of someone you love.
The actual Huffington Post blog can be found here