I’ve been a paramedic for about 10 years and during that time have seen many horrific and sometimes gruesome events, but this is the worst morbid obesity related event that I’ve ever witnessed. Given that this is the case, it may surprise you that I only had cause to actually vomit at work for the very first time recently. This story is not intended to humiliate or ridicule the patient who was suffering with super morbid obesity. Instead, it is designed to encourage people to make changes, as hard as they may be, to ensure that you never let their obesity get to this stage.
So, I received an emergency call for a person with a sore leg. The patient lived in a well-known, low sociological suburb, in which I have attended many times previously.
I arrive and find a patient who is suffering with super morbid obesity, a medical term used to describe people with so much excess body fat that they are in serious risk of death as a direct consequence of their obesity.
She is about 35, very few people suffering with super morbid obesity live longer than this, and she is lying on a three seater couch, which has been modified so that it is twice as deep as a regular three seater couch and even so, appeared to be filling the entire dimensions of the couch. My first impression is that the entire room smells of rotting food scraps and she appears to be a female version of Jaba the Hut.
The room has leftover buckets of food scraps, almost like a pig’s pen, strewn around the room, almost as though, in an emergency, she would be able to re-nibble on leftover, several week old scraps of deep fried meat.
I start to assess the patient and ask my usual set of paramedical questions. It isn’t long before I get to the point where she explains that the reason she has called for an Ambulance today is that she has pain in both legs. She has a large sheet which she has lightly draped over her body. I have a remarkably poor sense of smell, but even I knew that this was the most disgusting smells of all time. I pull back the covers and find that due to her diabetes both of her legs have become necrotic (dying cells). Eating away the dying flesh I find literally hundreds of maggots. This patient had been unable to move for such a long time that she was no longer able to see her legs over the enormity of her girth. I explain to her what I had seen and she had no idea that she had maggots living in both her legs.
I then, regretfully ask if she has pain anywhere else.
She then points to her enormous apron (large stomach flap) – and tells me that it has been irritating her lately and has the odd tingling sensation.
I hold my breath and try to pull back the stomach flap as best I can. Maggots! More maggots were growing in the moist flap of the stomach… and then….
Eeep…. I hear….
What normal stomach anatomy makes the sound Eeep?
Mice! There are two mice squirming away in the warm undergrowth of her apron.
Please, don’t let this happen to anyone else you know! If you stop bringing them food, they will have to move to go get it! This is a self-resolving issue! Please pass this on as added incentive to anyone you know who has tried and tried again to start a diet that works!