Let's Talk About Why Al Roker Shit His Pants at the White HouseS

Al Roker pooping his pants at the White House made the rounds yesterday because it's pretty hilarious when someone shits their pants. The only thing that even comes close to being in the same realm of funny is a dog riding a horse. Other feelings being expressed over Roker's public shart share: Sadness, bewilderment, exhilaration, discomfort, confusion, and all the reaction gifs of people doing double takes or barfing.

Regardless of what you thought about Al Roker's drunk uncle ramblings on Dateline, the reason the grown man sharted in his drawers at the WHITE HOUSE was because he's had gastric bypass surgery — an intense process that removes and rearranges your healthy digestive system so that you can't properly process/retain/eat food. For people who undergo this traumatic surgery, pooping their pants is often a concern.

"When you have a bypass and your bowels [have] been reconstructed, you think you're pretty safe," Roker told Dateline's Nancy Snyderman (you can watch the video on TMZ).

"And I probably went off and ate something I wasn't supposed to. And as I'm walking to the press room … I gotta pass a little gas here. I'm walking by myself. Who's gonna know? Only a little something extra came out," the news anchor explains.

"You pooped in your pants," Snyderman says.

"I pooped my pants. Not horribly, but enough that I knew," Roker answers. Pretty sure any amount that you shit your pants would put you safely in the "horribly" category of shitting your pants.

Snyderman interjects that it's a "common side effect of the surgery."

Which, it is. Other common side effects? According to Linda Bacon [Warning: PDF!] in Health at Every Size:

"Complications" are likely. A few other possible complications that the ads usually forget to mention, as compiled by Dr. Paul Ernsberger and Sandy Swarzc: adhesions and polyps, massive scar tissue, advanced aging, anemia, arthritis, blackouts/fainting, bloating, body secretions (odor like rotten meat), bowel/fecal impaction, cancer (of the stomach, esophagus, pancreas, and bowel), chest pain from vomiting, circulation impairment, cold intolerance, constipation, depression, diarrhea, digestive impairment due to heavy mucus, digestive irregularities, diverticulitis, drainage problems at incision, early onset of diabetes, early onset of hypertension, electrolyte imbalance, erosion of tooth enamel, excessive dry skin, excessive stomach acid, esophageal contractions, esophageal erosion and scarring, feeling ill, gallbladder distress, gynecological complications, hair loss, hemorrhoids, hernia, hormone imbalances, impaired mobility, infection from leakage into body cavities (peritonitis), infertility, intestinal atrophy, intestinal gas, involuntary anorexia, irregular body fat distribution (lumpy body), iron deficiency, kidney impairment and failure, liver impairment and failure, loss of energy, loss of muscle control, loss of skin integrity, low hemoglobin, lowered immunity and increased susceptibility to illnesses, malfunction of the pituitary gland, muscle cramps, nausea, neural tube defects in your children, neurological impairment (nerve and brain damage), osteoporosis, pancreas impairment, pain along the left side, pain on digestion, pain on evacuation, peeling of fingernails, potassium loss, pulmonary embolus, putrid breath and stomach odor, rectal bleeding, shrinking of intestines, stomach pain, sleep irregularities, suicidal thoughts, thyroid malfunction, urinary tract infection, vitamin and mineral deficiency, vitamin and mineral malabsorption, violent hiccups that persist daily, vomiting from blockage, vomiting from drinking too fast, vomiting from eating too fast, vomiting from eating too much (more than 2 ounces) . . . and best of all—weight regain.

Even the developer of gastric bypass, Dr. Edward Mason, has his doubts about it:

"For the vast majority of patients today, there is no operation that will control weight to a ‘normal' level without introducing risks and side effects that over a lifetime may raise questions about its use for surgical treatment of obesity."

On one hand, hats off to Roker for talking about the crappy side of weight loss surgery, you very rarely hear anyone admitting to it because people who undergo such traumatic surgery rarely want to speak publicly about its flaws, especially when everyone's congratulating them on their somewhat slimmer bodies.

On the other hand, how heartbreaking is it that we live in a society where people have healthy organs rearranged so that they can lose weight in the guise of "health"? When, in reality, we don't really know if the patients are healthier in the long haul.

The most comprehensive independent review of bariatric surgery, conducted by the Emergency Care Research Institute, a nonprofit health services research agency, examined evidence from seventy studies.

The investigators reported that while significant weight loss occurred, patients still remain obese. However, they noted that the evidence demonstrating that associated diseases improved was weak, and it was not evident that surgery resolved heart disease or extended life span. They report that claims of improved "quality of life and long-term health impacts are less conclusive."

Plus, there's the sobering reality that mortality rates following bariatric surgery are fairly terrifying [PDF again!]:

...[N]early 3% of the patients died after the first year and 6.4% at the end of the fourth year. Of those who had surgery in 1995 and had at least 9 years of follow-up, 13.0% had died. Of those who had the surgery in 1996 and 8 years of follow-up, 15.8% had died, and of those who had surgery in 1997 with 7 years of follow-up, 10.5% had died. Sandy Swarzc, on the Junkfood Science blog, compared these rates to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, matching Americans of the same age and BMI and concludes: "By best estimates, bariatric surgeries likely increase the actual mortality risks for these patients by 7-fold in the first year and by 363% to 250% the first four years."

People considering bariatric surgery for health reasons, should maybe consider reading this part again: By best estimates, bariatric surgeries likely increase the actual mortality risks for these patients by 7-fold in the first year and by 363% to 250% the first four years.

I get why Roker was so desperate to lose weight — he's a public figure in an industry that's not known for compassion to people who aren't thin. Plus, Roker's father's dying wish was for his son to lose weight. And, to top it all off, in the Dateline interview, his wife says "I just wanted to feel more attracted to him." That broke my heart. Further: Screw you, lady, what kind of monster says that about their partner? The same partner she began dating when he was larger? "Oh by the by, when we used to have sex, I was repulsed by you."

So, yeah, when you add together being in the public eye, his dad's death bed plea, and his wife telling him that she doesn't find him sexually attractive when he's fat, I can see how Roker has major motivation. This is the sort of pressure that can possibly keep a person's weight down — add all that to the fact that Roker doesn't have to worry about money and has access to healthy foods and the time and skills (or staff with the time and skills) to keep him on a regimen.

Of course, even with all that, he still shits his pants sometimes.

I think I'll choose my clean underwear and fat ass over dumping shit-stained underwear in bathroom waste baskets, and the myriad of other scary side effects of weight loss surgery. After all, I became healthiest when I made peace with my relationship with food, and started listening to what my body did and didn't want. Sure, I found out that my body wants to be heavier than I initially wanted — but I also found that I love kale, Jazzercise, and meditation. I also love that the delicious cupcake I ate for dessert tonight won't send me running for the toilet. That's a plus, too.


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Earlier: Al Roker: ‘I Pooped In My Pants' at the White House