Health Scare Experiments
The Consequences of Obesity
Kirk, 42, is in denial that his health is crumbling under his excessive body weight. Now a pre-diabetic and suffering from severe sleep apnea, Kirk risks losing losing his life and missing out on raising his two children, and a third on the way. His wife, Kristy, reaches out to The Doctors in hopes of putting her husband's health back on track.
"Carrying that extra weight puts you at risk for diabetes, and that is something you need to be aware of and face head-on," plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon says.
The Doctors strap Kirk onto a gurney and put him in an ambulance for a simulated diabetic emergency, and he must face the fact that he is a ticking time bomb.
The ambulance takes Kirk to a dialysis center for a first-hand look at his impending illness if he doesn't take immediate action.
Several tests reveal that Kirk has a sky-high body fat percentage and blood pressure, as well as an extremely crowded pharynx, obstructing oxygen flow to his lungs and depleting his energy levels. "If you don't get your act together in a short period of time," obesity expert Dr. Robert Huizenga says, "you're going to be strapped in an ambulance with a real disease."
"Riding in the ambulance today was one of the worst things of my life, and I pray that I will never have to experience that for real," Kirk says. "It was overwhelming and life-changing. It's hard to take a look at your life like that."
See how The Doctors intervention motivates Kirk to turn his life around for his wife and children.
"Diabetes means heart attacks, amputations, blindness, a lot of things," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "But most of those things, if not all of them, are preventable."
To prevent diabetes, exercise everyday, learn about proper nutrition and commit to a healthy lifestyle.
Losing Sight of Your Vision
Forty-three-year-old Christine's last vision exam was in 1990, and more than two decades later, she cannot read the fine print on labels, boxes, magazines or books. Christine avoids the eye doctor for fear that an exam will reveal a serious illness, and she says that she would rather read brail than wear reading glasses.
Fewer than 50 percent of Americans get regular eye exams, and 97 percent of all blindness occurs from common diseases that can be caught early-on with a simple checkup.
"When babies are first born, we do an exam," ophthalmologist Dr. Kerry Assil says. "Thereafter, exams should happen every two to three years, and by age 40, every one to two years. It should be a complete exam with a chart test, microscope and eye pressure, and pupils should be dilated for a deeper look inside the eye."
The Doctors sends Christine to Dr. Assil for a complete eye exam.
"The eyes let us look into the body and search for diseases, strokes and chronic conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure," Dr. Assil says.
After braving the exam, The Doctors challenge Christine to experience a life without the privilege of sight by sending her blindfolded to the home of Lorri, who has been blind for 15 years after neglecting to care for her diabetes.
"It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life," Christine says. "I saw how hard and how challenging it was and, I'll never take my sight for granted again."
The Doctors urge Christine to take better care of her vision and overall health.
• Learn how you can help the blind by visiting Guide Dogs of America.
Kicking a 40-Year Habit
More than one month ago, The Doctors initiated a surprise intervention to help Sharon kick her multi-decade smoking habit. At the time, Sharon was in denial that her smoking was harming her granddaughter, Brooke, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease.
With the help of The Doctors and Vanderbilt Dayani Center Smoking Cessation Program, Sharon is now smoke-free and happy to be a safe role model for her granddaughter.
"I am so happy to say that I will never touch another cigarette as long as I live," Sharon says.
If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking, eating four to six balanced meals throughout the day, as opposed to two or three, can help keep blood-sugar levels at a steady state and diminish any urges to smoke.
Resources to Stop Smoking
• Learn about the tools available to help you quit smoking.
• Take the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence.
• Watch the QUITPLAN video for the reasons to quit smoking right now.
• Relearn your life without cigarettes with help from www.BecomeAnEX.org.
• Vanderbilt Dayani Center Smoking Cessation Program
"Think about how you may be living your life, what path you're on and whether it's the direction you want to be heading in," Dr. Travis says. "Take action starting today to protect your health."
• Know someone who takes their health for granted? Tell us!