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Morbid Morbidity



From the outset of my decision for surgery has been the nagging fear that everyone has, especially when they commit themselves lay bare-chested in front of a man (or woman) with a big scalpel who would rather be on the golf course with Cecil Snr and Farquah the Third. The nagging fear is of course..."am I going to die?"!For people having this procedure who listen to their surgeons before-hand and do some research on the fact, the figures for death caused as a direct result of laproscopic surgery to fit a gastric band are quoted as anywhere between 1 in 1500 and 1 in 3000. That's quite a big difference in odds, so I tend to be darkly cautious and weigh up my options using the 1 in 1500 figure. Each hospital, surgical team or individual surgeon has their own quotes - much in the same way that each bank has its own mortgage rates. I was personally quoted a 0.06% morbidity rate (1 in 1666.6 recurring), which wasn't the best on the high street, but I'm keen to keep my aftercare as close to home as possible. I also noticed that, unlike me, he had very steady hands.Initially, when quoted this morbidity figure of 0.06% (i.e. my chance of snuffing it), I felt like throwing the idea of ever being at a healthy weight down the pan - along with my shredded cardboard breakfast that they call All Bran.Then, I took some time out and decided to explore the Internet, the forums and the books and see what other people thought on this and what it actually meant in real terms.Having scoured the Internet for comparisons of causes of death, I was strangely heartened by these figures of average citizens in the US (heartened not because I hate Americans, but that's where most of the stats seem to derive!): * Your chances of dying in your lifetime by firearms is 1 in 325. * Your chances of dying in your lifetime by a car accident are a shocking 1 in 100. * Your chances of dying by fire or smoke are 1 in 1000.Now, I intend to avoid dying by any of those causes - but, the figures above haven't stopped me carelessly and recklessly allowing myself to sit in a car on the death-laden roads of Britain. They haven't stopped me walking unarmoured through "Da Hood" of Hampshire where gun crime must run amok. They haven't encouraged me to spend the rest of my life in a swimming pool, away from the danger of fire (the odds of drowning are 1 in 8942, however in the previous scenario, I imagine the odds would be amended a little). I also found myself reconsidering my weekly Lotto purchase, as I am now aware that I am 70 times more likely to be killed in an asteroid impact.I realise that these figures are over the course of an average lifetime - so perhaps I should bring it in a little, as my surgery figures are calculated using the timescale from the surgery to 30 days after.Cranking it down to a period of a year, these UK (yay!) statistics lead me to further re-consider my initial balk at the risk.For example, did you know: * If you are a man between 25 and 34, you have a 1 in 1215 chance of dying of some cause in the next year. If you are a woman, you (some would say, unfairly) have the better odds of 1 in 2488. * If you are a man between 35 and 44, your chances of death in the next twelve months increase drastically to 1 in 663 and 1 in 1106 if you are a woman.So, my chance of going under the knife are better than my chances of surviving the next 12 months if I did nothing different!But why even risk that seemingly less scary 0.06% chance? Well, that leads me back to the first statistics I found. What makes the risk acceptable to me is simply this: The average western citizen has a 1 in 5 chance of dying of heart disease. We can all pretty much work out that the 80% that miss the knock-knock-thud of heart disease don't eat the way I do (or "did") or weigh as much as I do (...on the way to "did").What makes it worth the risk is that, having seen my father die at 49 from heart disease, I want to be given the chance to be in that 80% that avoid heart disease. I want to live beyond my 40s and see my grand children.I have tried for twenty years to do it alone - and I think it's time I took a deep breath, admitted I can't do it solo and cross "Da Hood"...in my car...with a lighted candle (perhaps even stopping off at the swimming pool on the way). I think it's time I asked for help.A simple decision when you think about it.


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