15 August 2004

--- A 480-Pound Woman, Hurricane Charley, and Weather-Talk

It's odd Sunday. Bloghopping today, I came across Amanda Doerty's Blog that talked about a 480-pound Martin County woman in Stuart, Florida who died after emergency paramedics tried removing her from a couch where she had stayed for about --- don't be shocked --- six, long years! The paramedics reported that Gayle Laverne Grinds, the 40-year old 480-pounder died last Wednesday from complications arising from "morbid obesity." Complete story from WFTV.com-Florida.

Morbid obesity happens when you have a BMI value greater than 39 or 100 pounds more than your ideal body weight (IBW). Some of the known causes are, of course, an increased caloric intake, no physical activity, and thyroid gland problems. Complications are varied and you can already guess them: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, breast and colon cancers, and to a lesser extent depression, osteorthritis, and chronic arthritis. I'm quite sure Ms. Grinds died from one or two of the first 4 complications.

Patients with morbid obesity are usually advised to undergo a strict weight reduction program that needs strong support from relatives of the patient. More often than not, these patients are also advised to undergo bariatric surgery in order to limit their caloric intake. It is estimated that about 4 million Americans are morbidly obese. In the case of Ms. Grinds, her live-in partner Herman Thomas seemed incapable of helping her deal with the problem. The situation was so bad that after six years of immobility, Grinds' skin "had grown into the fabric of the couch," as Amanda's blog put it.

In other blogging news, Blogger featured Candie Goodyear, a 21-year old American woman who blogs in detail about Hurricane Charley as it roared and rampaged most of Florida's southwest coast. Read her posts about Hurricane Charley. It offers a first person account of the situation. Latest reports said the hurricane left 13 people dead and billions of dollars in damages.

In the Philippines, we may not have hurricanes, but tropical depressions and typhoons are ordinary news especially in these months. Catastrophic damages like deaths, destroyed houses and property, and floods are not new to us. We even have a tropical cyclone website. In times of disaster the rural folk in the provinces are the ones usually affected. Health personnel are especially busy tending to cases which range from flu to leptospirosis, also known as Weil's Disease in the US, and is usually due to frequent unavoidable wading in dirty floodwaters.

I am equally fascinated and impressed by how most westerners are so informed about their weather conditions. Here, the weather isn't usually predicted accurately by our (inappropriately termed) weather bureau, the PAGASA, which by the way, is also a Pilipino Tagalog word meaning hope. Alas, there is nothing to hope for with some of PAGASA's forecasts: if they say it will rain, the sun usually burns bright and if they say it will be sunny, chances are it will rain. Lack of funds usually explain PAGASA's inaccuracies and they could not really be blamed totally. I am just flummoxed most of the time because had the bright guys in government spent more time thinking, they would have known that a lot of money and lives could be saved if we had a more sophisticated way of forecasting the weather.

Enough of that, I'm already ruining your Sunday.

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