Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When the Abnormal Becomes Routine

When the story of John Keitz, the 39-year-old Dundalk, Maryland man who weighed 625-pounds, ran in the Washington Post back in June, I decided not to include the story of his determination to lose weight in my blog until updates on his progress were encouraging. Sadly such an update will not be coming in the future - John Keitz died yesterday at 750-pounds.

His story is one riddled with contradiction - by all accounts, he was a charismatic gentleman, though with time he grew fatalistic about his weight; a man with an over-sized personality and an over-sized body; a happy-go-lucky sort who simply gave up and resigned himself to a bedridden state for seven years as he grew larger and larger.

In June when the Washington Post ran his story, I was shocked by the photos and the state of disarray his life was in. In the seven years since he'd fallen one evening while making dinner, the fall that ultimately led him to bed, he'd gone from 500-pounds to 625-pounds. He decided it was time to get help and was admitted to a facility near Annapolis, Maryland - eager to lose the weight and become "functional" again.

He had a good start to his weight-loss as the high-profile story in June recounted. Somehow, though, things turned for the worse over the summer. He had stopped complying with his diet and was gaining weight again. He wound up being admitted in late August to another facility in Ohio for treatment - upon admittance he was up to 752-pounds. A month later he was dead.

One has to seriously ask, just how can this happen? How can one, living with obesity, go from (no doubt) a difficult existence due to what can only be considered extreme-morbid obesity at 500-pounds, to a bed-ridden 625-pounds, to someone who finally seeks treatment and actually gains more weight while being treated for obesity - reaching a remarkable 752-pounds in less than three months?

What the hell happened here?

How does someone actually eat an excess of 444,500 calories in about 90-days, day-in-day-out consistently, to gain 127 pounds while he is being treated in two facilities? That's right, this man had to be eating 4,938 excess calories each day! What were they feeding him? Someone was responsible for providing him with food - he was bedridden and obviously not able to walk to the refrigerator and help himself to whatever was in there!

If you haven't noticed, I am a bit shocked by this story. Here was a man, a severely obese man, who needed help; whose life had moved beyond routine existence as a morbidly obese man to an existence that can be only described as abnormal. The abnormal somehow became routine and acceptable in his life and the lives of those around him.

Call me opinionated if you must, but I think his story is one that serves as a warning to anyone who is obese and slowly watching their life morph into a reality they wouldn't have considered normal in years past. Take this example of a 39-year-old John Keitz and realize such altered reality happens to real people slowly, over time. Don't wait until you're bedridden, don't wait until you can no longer roll over in bed and are still gaining weight, don't wait until years have passed in such a something today. I've said it many times, you have the power to change you life - do what you must do and don't allow yourself to become another tragic story!


  1. Regina, I wondered the same thing. It seems that the facility was allowing him to eat beyond their own diet. I will wager that the wife and sister were bringing him food. Negligence. Deadly negligence.

  2. This is so damn sad.

  3. I think that as his heart failed, he retained many, many pounds of fluid (that's what happens in heart failure). I wonder what kind of medical, nutritional, and psychiatric care he was getting. And of course, how is a bedbound man able to cheat on his diet?

  4. I am hearing you Regina.