Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Not a Piece of Cake

Rachel Ginsberg

Last year alone, half a million people put their stomachs under the scalpel in order to undergo bariatric surgery for fast, drastic weight loss. Is this the new, easy way out of obesity, replacing the noble struggle of diet, willpower, and self-discipline? And are the pain, discomfort, and danger of this life-altering surgery a realistic swap for the hoped-for health benefits?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

At a table in the corner of a popular Jerusalem all-you-can-eat hummus and falafel diner, Shimon Klaffer studies the menu as if it were his monthly Mifal HaShas exam. In a way, it’s an even bigger test. Last summer, at 330 pounds, he sat here in his favorite eatery with his newlywed wife calculating how massive a meal (including the basket of free pitas) he could get for his money, while she shrugged good-naturedly and ordered a salad. Today she’s still ordering a salad, but Shimon has to make an even trickier calculation. Old habits die hard, but what can he choose that won’t make him sick, that will be easy to chew and swallow, that won’t give him heart palpitations or send him to the nearest couch to lie down for two hours in excruciating pain? Shimon, now a drastic 90 pounds lighter after gastric “sleeve” weight-loss surgery, flips his menu back and forth. He settles on an appetizer, half of which will wind up on his wife’s plate. “Now I can finally eat like everyone else,” he says. But that’s not exactly true. His stomach is now just a fraction of its original size, and if he has more than a spoonful of food within a ten-minute period, he’ll feel sick. A slice of bread will take half an hour to go down, eaten in increments. Other foods will cause a common post-op “dumping” reaction — racing heartbeat, sweats, and dizziness. And if he drinks together with his small meal, he’ll pay with nausea and searing pain. But 21-year-old Shimon, a chassidic yungerman, is happy with the trade-off. He’s joined the ranks of about 500,000 men and women around the world who’ve put their stomachs under the scalpel in the last year alone, undergoing one of several bariatric surgical procedures that guarantee fast and drastic weight loss for the morbidly obese — those at least 100 pounds overweight. 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without