Tuesday, June 28, 2005

When He Sits Around the House...

As I ate my sandwich of pastrami, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on a sub roll with a side of Cheetos and a Diet Coke, I read the Washington Post story about John Keitz, the 39-year-old man from Dundalk, Maryland, who has been bed-ridden for about seven years. Keitz weighs 625 pounds.

The profile, by David Montgomery, is, well, engrossing. Keitz had always been a big guy, weighing 100 pounds even in first grade and 250 pounds at age 18. (He believes his morbid obesity stems from a bad metabolism and not simply large portions.) As Montgomery explains it:

He lies on his front, because if he were to lie on his back, rolls of flesh would press on his windpipe and suffocate him. His head never touches sheet or pillow. At night, his left cheek nestles upon a soft white pile of shoulder and breast meat.

The last time Keitz stood, he was in the midst of preparing a mac 'n' cheese dinner for himself and his wife Gina. Just as he was slicing the Velveeta, it happened.

Keitz knows what people think: "How could someone get so fat? How could someone allow himself to be bedridden for seven years? How is it someone his size has sex?" (Okay, that last question was mine. And based on a friend's account of an obese couple she knows well, I do know how it works, the details of which are not suitable for publication under any circumstance.)

The story of John Keitz is a sad one. Yes, he has lost some weight--he once weighed 781 pounds--and he is trying to literally get back on his feet. But he still has a long way to go, and must simultaneously battle diabetes, arthritis, and sleep apnea. Let's hope David Montgomery does a follow-up next year.

22 comments:

Patrick said...

There is a guy here in Nebraska (Valentine, Neb.) who lost 573 lbs. in one year! This guy was 1,073 lbs one year ago, now he is 500 lbs. This is almost 400 lbs. more than the Maryland guy (that is like adding another fat guy).

Al said...

Where's Jared when we need him???

Jay D. Homnick said...

What do you get when you cross Alfred Hitchcock with Vic Matus?

The Birds And The Obese.

Lawjedi said...

This is wrong. When I began outting on the weight, I began eating better and exercizing. This is a disgrace. And metabolism changes with one's level of activity. Lift some of that "chest meat" for exercize until you can walk. Egad!

Anonymous said...

What I never understand in cases like these is, once the person is bed-ridden, in order for them to maintain the weight, someone has to be providing them with enough calories - otherwise, he would lose weight. It seems to me that if someone I knew became bed ridden b/c of weight, I would put them on a diet. At that point, there is not much the person could do about it, as they can't get out of bed.

Jay D. Homnick said...

I'm with Anonymous. I always had the same question.

But perhaps Vic has the answer. The guy in the bed trades something for the food.

Uggh!

Anonymous said...

its amazing how judgemental people can be when they don't have the whole story. the story Mr Montgomery wrote was a wonderful, heart-wrenching story that obviously couldn't publish everything. the paper likely gave a certain amount of space. other medical professionals didn't think he could do any physical therapy, even as recently as April 2005. it took a different set of people to even try. I am sure he, his wife and his sister are thankful to the latest doctors etc for their assistance. do you honestly think a person would be HAPPY living like he has been. I know there are many more people like him in the world. I pray that they find a group of people like these to help them.

Anonymous said...

"its amazing how judgemental people can be when they don't have the whole story"

What part of the story don't I have? There is a man who is too obese to even get out of bed. That means someone has to be bringing him food. If the person bringing him food brought him less quantity, and better quality, the obese man would lose weight. No, he would not become skinny, but he would certainly drop to a weight that would allow him to get out of bed. So, it is clear that someone is enabling him by bringing him either the quantity and/or the quality of food that maintains his current bed-ridden weight.

Now, this might be heart wrenching, but this is also a case of people being totally responsible for their condition, which condition, I'm sure, costs society in disability benefits, welfare, and medical costs.

Anonymous said...


do you honestly think a person would be HAPPY living like he has been.


I really hate it when people bring this up. Come on, people have free will and they make choices. Choices have consequences. Do you think most people who have unprotected sex with multiple partners are happy when they catch an STD? Hell no, but that really is beside the point.

Perhaps Mr. Montgomery's situation is based on medical reasons and therefore he is an innocent victim; however, it sounds like he made some lifestyle choices and this resulted in the situation he is in.

Anonymous said...

"Perhaps Mr. Montgomery's situation is based on medical reasons and therefore he is an innocent victim;"

Mr Montgomery was the reporter. Mr Keitz is the obese man.

No matter what anyone personally feels about the situation, I am thrilled he is finally get some help. ALL of us eat some stuff we shouldn't and none of us are perfect... at least, he isn't claiming to be...

I am sure there is more to his story that fit into the article...

Medical situations and circumstances that not everyone knows about...

I feel bad for his family. What they must go through being homeless in one part of the state while he is in a rehab center 45 minutes away...

VT said...

"I feel bad for his family. What they must go through being homeless in one part of the state while he is in a rehab center 45 minutes away..."

Perhaps they're thinking that if they just refused to keep overfeeding him while he was confined to the bed, they wouldn't be in this situation.

So much for personal responsibility for anyone in this story. And, unfortunately, based on some of the comments here, so much for people in our society being able to hold people accountable for their own behaivour.

Anonymous said...

I agree, people should take responsibility for their actions. However, I also believe that no one person should judge another. What the article didn't say was that Mr Keitz was following the instruction of his doctor. They only wanted him to lose an average of 2 pounds per week. Any dietician will tell you, if you lose weight too fast, it can send your body into shock and cause you to have a heart attack. I know Mrs Keitz and know she was stuck between doing what she thought was best and what the doctors wanted.

Anonymous said...

Just want to point some stuff out:

1) 2 pounds of loss a week is perfectly safe for most men and some women who are atleast 20 pounds or so over their ideal weight. In a case like this fellow he could lose 5 or 8 pounds a week and still be safe. The fatter you are, the more weight you can lose faster (and safer). So, this guy is not being very ambitious actually.

2) People like this have mental problems. The ones who succesfully manage to get down to more normal sizes are almost always the ones who recieve mental help from a professional. From reading the article I think this man is going to fail unless he manages to see a shrink (no pun intended).

I know its hard for most people to understand, but this type of extreme obesity isn't gluttony or greed, its a mental disease that leads the victim to self destruction. It's a very insideous addiction because for these people its chemically much how a drug addiction would be for someone else. The insideous part of it that while you don't need drugs to live, you absolutely have to eat. Imagine being an alcoholic who had to drink only 1 beer a day - most people would tell you it wouldn't work.

It's a pretty fucked up situtation.

Anonymous said...

He was 200 pounds at 16, 781 at 39. Thats a 581 pound or 2,033,500 calories gain over 8,395 days. In theory you need only eat 242.2 extra calories a day to gain that weight. Thats only an extra 2.5 slices of bread each day. The bigger he got the less mobile he was so his weight just kept going up. His needs a lot of help to get to a normal weight and stay there(most regain the weight). People this size are a growing problem for fire fighters when they have to be moved.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad story no matter how you look at this situation. I am no expert by any means on obesity but I am an expert on me who has struggled with weight ever since childhood.

After reading some of these comments, I agree with some yet disagree with others. At my lightest in my adult life, I was 186 lbs. At my heaviest, I was 282 lbs (I am only 5'11"). I am now 245. I don't know if Mr. Kleitz was on any medications but there are some that trigger tremendous amounts of weight gain such as antidepressants. I stopped taking mine a month ago (which ironically was at my heaviest weight) and have dropped nearly 40 pounds in a month. Have I done anything different with my diet? No. Have I exercised more? No. A man Mr. Kleitz' size may have been on antidepressants which could have caused part of his weight gain. Other factors obviously include inactivity, overeating, and an addiction to food.

People with eating disorders such as Mr. Kleitz' and my own are often compared to people who smoke and/or drink heavily. It is difficult for them to stop. At least he got help, which is difficult for many people to do because of various factors. Some of you may say, "That's bullshit! He should have gotten off of his ass and walked around the block and left the donuts at the grocery store!" Easier said than done. Here's a proposition for you: stop showering for the next month. Can't do it? That's how people in this situation feel. They just can't do it. How would you feel if you weighed 750 lbs and were bed ridden?

Some of you have said, "Well someone had to be bringing him the food..." If any of you have taken basic health in elementary school, you would know that even the healthiest of foods such as salads with no dressing can be turned into fat. Let me put it together for you: If you consume food and don't burn it off, it is stored in your body as fat. So in order to burn it off, you need to do what? Become active. The heavier one is, it is more difficult to become active therefore increasing the state of inactivity. Yes, Mr. Kleitz made some bad choices but at least in the end, he went out trying. He is out of his pain and misery and at least you could do is show the man some respect. He was still a human being, a husband, a brother, a father, a son...

ginakeitz said...

John would not really be concerned with getting respect after his death but I think it was very nice of you to say. John's reason for telling his story to the Washington Post and then on TLC cable network was to get people's attention. He didn't want ANYONE to have to deal with the same type of situation as he had. Yes, he was overweight. Yes, he had diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis and asthma. Unfortunately, when you live in a high humidity area, and you are big, its hard to exercise. There is nothing more strange to watch than to see a fat man boogie-ing to hip hop music in bed trying to exercise.... but it kept his heart going for quite a while. However, if he did just a little too much, especially if it was hot and humid, it would set him into a severe asthma attack. I am not making excuses. However, I know John would be more concerned with other people not making the same mistakes he did. Firstly, as a man with a man's pride and ego, he believed, in the beginning that he could lose the weight on his own. Secondly, It wasn't mainly his weight that killed him. It was the bacterial infection that no one knows where he got it or how long it laid dormant in his system before it started eating away at his system. The young man in the nursing home with him said that on Friday night John wasn't acting right and that he told him he wasn't feeling well... on Tuesday morning he passed away .... but in the end, it was the infection that killed him. It had moved up into his brain after messing up the kidneys and heart... I prayed constantly for him to get well. On Monday night, I didn't pray for him to get well. I asked God to do what HE felt was best and give everyone the strength to deal with whatever happened. I believe that is what HE did. John isn't suffering anymore. I should know. I am his wife !!!! I have been accused of being an enabler. I had never even heard of that word before all this happened. I believe that everything happens for a reason. Most people never considered obesity as being deadly... Well, guess what??? We found out the hard way that it is. My job, as his wife, was to do whatever I could to make him happy. I did the best I could. I am not defending or arguing with anything that has been said. Quite frankly, God's opinion is the ONLY one that really matters to me in the end. The bible says, the husband is the head of the house. That is what I tried to live by. Many people have judged me based on my husband's death and that is their right. I choose NOT to judge anyone. It's not my job. God will judge us when the time comes. I could have deserted him but when I got married I made promises to him. I also made promises to God and that is more important to me than anything else. Like John, I hope people take his story and get the help they need to solve their own health issues.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how some people can be SO judgemental! Obesity is an illness just like any other! You should all be so proud of yourselves making jokes and speaking where you have no knowledge (Jay D. Homnick is a DICKHEAD!!!)

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how even though John died, people with a weight problem come here and post all sorts of explanations for why it's just not possible to weigh less than 280 pounds.

My wife has been obese for years at 5'4, 210. She says the same kinds of things. Yet she has never been on a diet for more than a week, never exercised for more than a week. She's that way because she won't do the things necessary to fix it.

Truth be told we all share the blame for John's death. We all paid tsxes so the government could give the money to his wife so she could maintain that mountain of flesh in the living room.

Personally, I'm very ashamed of myself.

Anonymous said...

My job, as his wife, was to do whatever I could to make him happy. I did the best I could. I am not defending or arguing with anything that has been said. Quite frankly, God's opinion is the ONLY one that really matters to me in the end. The bible says, the husband is the head of the house. That is what I tried to live by.

The bible also says thou shall not kill...either yourself or others. I am with the other posters who said "someone" is enabling this situation, by providing this bedbound person with the wrong food choices. I think it's pathetic to hide behind bible scripture to justify doing the easy thing by throwing bags of chips and other crap to this guy. I don't ever remember hearing or reading any scripture about "thou shall live off of the government dole because thou can't stop shoving food in their face." I am sure many will feel I am being brutal, but it's a matter of self control. I managed to lose 80 pounds by getting off my lazy ass and exercising and eating an almost vegetarian menu. I still eats treats but I don't "graze" all day. you can easily double your food intake by snacking all day. So, who's to blame? The person eating and the people providing the food. People don't get up to 750 pounds from medication or eating the occational Whopper... Maybe his weight didn't kill him, but I doubt he would of had that infection if he was able to sit up for more then 2 minutes at a time. He chose food over everthing else in life and thats the bottom line. And it is heartbreaking and sad, but entirely their own fault. VT's posting here really summed this all up and the other posters with bleeding hearts should think about the fact that the government is reaching into YOUR pocket to fund all of this...Remember that next time you get home from working your job(s) and have to tell your kids you can't afford to get them the cool pair of shoes to help them fit in or whatever else you have to deny your family because you are taxed to support this kind of situation with your hard earned money. People on welfare and disability got no business ordering pizzas with pepperoni arranged like hearts being sent to their wives job or having beanie babies delivered from the drugstore. I can't afford that stuff and I work!!!! Shame of you, Mrs. Keitz, you enabled this situation. But I believe you are paying the ultimate price having to live with the knowledge of what you helped happen and living the rest of your life without your husband by you side.

Anonymous said...

John Keitz passed away last year. He had an infection and he couldn't fight it, and passed away. It is sad his life was lived in small room. I think he wanted to live, but he forgot what living was really like.

Anonymous said...

I am over weight and have been all my life. And Yes it is my fault, my choice. But the addiction of food is a thing in the mind. You don't just eat one, you eat the whole damn bag.
Why, I don't know, does it have something to do with up bringing, don't know. What ever it is, you have one obese parent you run a 40% chance of it yourself. Two parents 67% chance.
I think it is a group of things that all react together with in a obese mind that reinforce it
Life go on

luccy said...

Other than the FDA approved weight loss pills, herbs and medicines prepared from herbal products also adequately assist you in triggering off weight loss. As you scan the herbal weight loss related pages of the website http://www.weight-loss-truths.com , you would come to known that herbal weight loss is possible through herbal products such as Hoodia, Dandelion, Pyruvate, Aloe Vera et al. However, before opting for herbal weight loss products, it is necessary for you to consult with a herbal practitioner.