Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cause of death: obesity

...but did emotional factors outweigh his physical problems? A 750 pound man dies:
John Keitz, 39, the vastly overweight Dundalk, Md., man who last spring began a physical therapy program, vowing to walk again after his extreme bulk had made him a prisoner of his bed for seven years, died yesterday of complications from an infection in a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, his wife said.

Charismatic, funny, pugnacious, at times irascible, Keitz used his outsize personality to make friends and partially compensate for his otherwise restricted existence. He cooked and served chicken meals from his bed, played chess with neighborhood kids, 'danced' to rock music by heaving from side to side and used the telephone to stay connected with the outside world.

Life got away from John and Gina Keitz, one day at a time, one calorie at a time.

His wife, Gina, was at his bedside, as she had been steadfastly since he first 'went down' while making the couple a dinner of macaroni and cheese in the summer of 1998, when he weighed about 500 pounds.

Keitz's struggle, profiled in The Washington Post on June 26, provided a glimpse into the brutal and baffling physical and psychological hurdles involved in losing weight. He could not lie on his back because his chest bulk would suffocate him. He long refused to seek help, until, he feared, it might have been too late.
How does a bedbound man cheat on his diet? He was unable to walk for the last seven years of his life, but he cooked chicken dinners from his bed. How was this possible? Someone was enabling him. WAPO is sympathetic, and does not speculate. But clearly, we don't have the full story. Here's more:
Suddenly last week, his health declined dramatically. He was admitted Saturday to St. Elizabeth Health Center with a bacterial infection of undetermined origins that was attacking his organs, said Gina Keitz, 38. He was put on a respirator and a dialysis machine, and his heart would not pump without assistance, she said. It gave out yesterday morning.

A hospital spokeswoman declined to release details. But it is well known that extremely obese people live in a perpetual state of precarious health. The old term for those in Keitz's weight category is no longer politically correct but it may be accurate: "morbidly obese."

"The bodily functions and internal organs are not designed to carry the weight of what John was carrying," French said.

John Keitz grew up in Dundalk, the son of a steelworker at Baltimore's Sparrows Point. He was overweight as a child and became a fighter in response to playground taunting. He developed a lifelong love of cooking and worked in fast-food restaurants. He also briefly taught martial arts and sometimes settled disputes physically, claiming with some pride to have punched out a McDonald's manager who insulted him.

He said he tried any number of diets but came to the fatalistic belief that his body was incapable of losing weight. Some of his friends, however, said he did not heed warning signs and ate often, if not in great quantity at any one time.

"It was horrifying," Keitz said, looking back. "You just give up. You go, 'That's what I'm dealt with.' . . . You can only do what your body wants you to do."

After he became bedridden, one year melted into seven, as Gina sometimes worked more than one job at a time and the couple dealt with life on the edge of poverty and homelessness. Keitz made intermittent attempts to get therapy, but the sessions did not last. The abnormal became routine.
There's a chilling sentence: "The abnormal became routine." When his legs were unable to support his weight, he retreated to bed, and one year became seven. Was it a relief, to be bedridden? No more exhausting efforts to walk. No more staring strangers. And of course, someone was caring for him, feeding him...

This story makes me wonder about my own life. Take a long, hard look, Shrinkette. Where has the abnormal become routine?



9 Comments:

Blogger Goesh said...

It is easy for us non-obese people to say, "quit eating" - yeah right, about like telling a heroin addict to simply quit using. Eating is socially acceptable, pleasant, necessary and quickly relieves stress, and of course we are a grease and sugar culture. Trans-fatty acids and processed sugar are pandemic in my opinion.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Greg P said...

In the end, it's a matter of accepting responsibility. Not guilt, not blame, just responsibility.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope that people can take John Keitz' story and learn from his mistakes. I don't mean so much the over-eating or the calorie counting diets. What I hope is that the tragedy of his life will make people stop and think. Get your weight and heart checked, your blood sugar and cholesterol...

Get a FULL physical and see where your problem areas are that you may not even be aware of.

Let the people you love know you care and that you worry.... bug them until they get checked out!!!

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll give you the truth about old John Keitz. I can tell you that although the stories are written showing the Keitz' are victims of society and they can't imagine how it came to be that they were evicted from the family home. Well REALITY CHECK! I have bills! You have bills. The Keitz'had bills. They just chose to not pay them. They lived in the family home after the father died & never paid a cent to keep it. Once the state had taken over the estate of John Sr. they offered it to the family to buy it for back taxes owed. $25,000.00 John's neice & her husband bought it to save it from being sold out of the family & having to have the Keitz' evicted.
Never the less, John Keitz & his wife never paid his own neice a cent to live there and when the bills got so backed up again the beice & husband were forced to evict them due to non-payment after 4 1/2 years. The house was not fit for PIGS to live in. It was so bad that the people who volunteered to help clean it out after the eviction, got sick from the filth! They lived among cock-roaches nearly 3 inches long ant mice inhabited any corner they could. It is amazing the Keitz' were not deathly ill from breathing the germs that were in that house! Yes unfortunately they had to be evicted but only due to their incompetence & lack of respect for society. They know how to "MILK" the system for handouts & free money and they know how to get the state to pay their way through society. I knew John for a short bit and I'm sorry that such a young man like John threw away his life at such a young age trying to get a free ride out of life!!!!

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is a shame when people do NOT know the entire story try to stick in comments, however, that doesn't matter anymore anyway. Everyone involved will get whatever God feels they deserve in the end.
The old saying always rings true...
"Every dog will have his day"

God knows the truth

11:22 PM  
Blogger Holy Wolf said...

For the Anonymous, You seem to know about the Keitz family very well, Very well. Maybe you are the FAMILY MEMBERS WHO HAD HIM EVICTED, OR MAYBE THE FAMILY MEMBERS WHO TALKED A LOT OF CRAP ABOUT HIM AND NEVER TRIED TO HELP HIM. Well If i am correct and the truth be told, HIS FAMILY CAME AND TOOK THE MONEY HIS SISTER WAS TO RECEIVE for their own personal gain!. So tell the truth. Family Member. Real family would try to help and they let him stay in the FAMILY house where they all grew up. HELL HIS FAMILY wanted nothing to do with him for years and they proved it by not helping him OR attending his memorial service. So tell the truth!

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to Holywolf.....

only a few people in his family were told about his memorial as from what I understand that is the way he wanted it....

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can anyone have sympathy for a fat disgustingly large human being of this sort. He chose to live this lifestyle. The only way people will help you is if you allow them to. They offered for the gastric bypass, and he declined. He's just a slob, and didn't give a crap about life.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous anonymous sucks said...

Anonymous, you're an asshat. A complete tool.

Get a life!

9:25 PM  

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