The Expertise of the Internet

Photo Credit: MikeFx… via Compfight cc

I spend a lot of time on bariatric surgery message boards and chat rooms, not really interacting a whole lot, but instead gathering experiences and emotions from people who are involved in the bariatric surgery process. And, just like the rest of the Internet, I encounter what seems to be a higher than average ratio of flakeazoids to normal people.

Yesterday presented a good example. A conversation was taking place talking about “dangerous” foods post-surgery. You know, ice cream, mashed potatoes, tiramisu – things that are easy to eat a lot of, even considering a stomach reduced in volume. Then some well-meaning person mentioned the danger of drinking soft drinks or other carbonated beverages – that the stomach pouch/sleeve may expand in size.

And, suddenly, the place went berserk, filled with pissed-off people trying to shout down this poster with comments effectively stating that “the stomach can’t expand” and “that’s just a myth” and so on. Their source of information? Some posts on YouTube.

I did not get involved at all in this conversation (see: Wrestling With Pigs), though I did feel bad for the helpful poster. But I also didn’t bother checking out the YouTube videos. Why not? A couple of reasons. Firstly, the stomach by design expands and contracts. My personal experience tells me that any substance that stretches will eventually get stretched to a size larger than what it began at. (Laundry, anyone?)

More importantly, though, is the fact that the stomach re-sizing is a phenomenon accepted by the medical community at large. Evidence has been presented to demonstrate it, papers have been written about it, surgical procedures exist to correct it. Not to mention the fact that both my surgeon AND Lor’s surgeon mentioned the carbonation phenomenon to us during each of our initial consultations. If we are going to ignore our surgeons in favor of the advice of “some dude on the Internet”, what the hell are we doing in a doctor’s office anyway?

The voices of the ‘Net have replaced the phenomenon that used to be known as “some guy I met in a bar”. The general premise is the same – if you look long enough, you are going to find a person that believes in something. UFOs, the hoaxed Moon landing, the great government cover-up of Stomachs Not Really Stretching…you get the picture. The problem with the Net is that it is so easy to find someone with a contrarian opinion. And if all you really want after your surgery is a Coke or a beer, you are going to find someone on the Internet to tell you that it is really ok, the whole “stomach stretching” thing is just an urban myth anyway. Problem solved. At least until you discover you’ve started regaining weight and can’t figure out why that might be…

If you are going through ANY type of medical condition, listen to your doctor(s). Yes, perform research as well, get second opinions, perform medical due diligence. But trust your sources. Check out medical credentials, look for published papers, do your research only on websites that are fact checked, etc. Do not trust your health and well being to some guy with a Webcam and some time on his hands. He may be the same guy that goes to bed wearing a tinfoil hat to prevent the NSA from stealing his thoughts. Just sayin’.

Have an awesome weekend, I will catch you all on the other side.

Now, About That Whole Loch Ness Monster Thing…

– Hawkwind

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