Hey all! Long time, no write!
I apologize for my extended break from blogging. I swear I am not giving up on my little corner of cyberspace. Things have been pretty crazy these days and I have been very sick with this pregnancy. So far, it’s been my worst one yet and has really thrown me for a loop. It’s frustrating because I feel so useless most of the time. I am not used to letting other people help, yet, I have had to do a lot of that over the past few weeks. We have also started school again with the kids, so that takes up pretty much all of my free time-which was virtually non-existent to begin with!
I definitely don’t want to make empty promises about my blogging schedule so I will just say that I hope to blog more regularly, but I know it won’t be as often as I did before. I can only do what I can do and right now, most days I am just struggling to get by. So hang in there with me and forgive me my absences. Please know, though, that I am most definitely NOT giving up this journey!
I saw an article the other day on one of my absolute, most favorite weight-loss blogs, Skinny Emmie. It might actually be a bit inaccurate to call it a weight-loss blog as Emmie blogs about so much more but I love her voice and her authenticity. She an incredible inspiration and I just LOVE her blog. I know you will too, so feel free to head on over and give her some love.
Anyway, the article discussed the recent case of a woman in Massachusetts, Ida Davidson, who was turned away by her primary care physician because she was overweight. You can read the full story here, and the article Emmie shared here.
The article really got me thinking about whether I am hesitant to go to the doctor because of my weight, and truth be told, I definitely am. For me, the absolute worse part of any doctor’s visit is being weighed. It’s embarrassing for me. I hate that other people see my weight and I wonder if they are shocked when they see what the number actually is. I wonder if they snicker behind my back or joke with their co-workers about it. It makes me very uncomfortable.
It has been really hard for me to find a new provider here in Florida. Part of it has been my own trepidation and just the general feeling that I get that I am seen as a ticking time-bomb. I do not, nor have I ever, had any health issues related to my weight. That is not to say it couldn’t happen or I don’t need to be concerned about obesity-related illnesses, but I just fear that any doctor who sees me will make those snap judgments that are oh-so-familiar to me.
With pregnancy, in particular, I have this fear of doctors. I know what my body can do and I know what it was made to do in terms of pregnancy and child birth, but because a baby is involved, many people get really nervous around me because they think simply because I am fat that I can’t also have a healthy pregnancy.
My last baby was breech and I was advised to see a chiropractor to try to get him into a better position for delivery. The first chiropractor I went to was totally clueless when it came to pregnant women and took one look at me and said, “You can’t be adjusted.” He proceeded to treat me with acupuncture and ice packs over the course of several weeks. After such ineffective treatment, I found a female chiropractor who was able to help me and basically told me that the other doctor did not know what he was talking about. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get baby boy to turn, but the adjustments she did provided incredible pain relief during those last uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy.
After the birth of my second son (he’s 7 now), I ran out of my prescription allergy medication. When I called my allergist for a refill, he wanted me to come in for an appointment. I have really severe indoor and outdoor allergies and am pretty non-functional without my Zyrtec (which was then available only by prescription). I went in so soon after the birth of my son that my sister had to drive me there and I could hardly walk in to the appointment (I had a c-section and was in a bit of pain). As soon as the doctor came in to the room he told me I needed to lose weight-despite the fact that I thought I was doing pretty good losing 25 pounds in about a week. I was flabbergasted. And I never went back.
A couple of years ago, I went to see a primary care physician. I had been having trouble sleeping and was just feeling pretty run down. I was not in the room five minutes before she asked me if I had considered bariatric surgery. She did not ask me how I was feeling. She did not ask me anything about my medical history. She had no idea if I was working on my weight or not. She jumped straight to the fact that I was fat and assumed this to be the cause of any and all health issues I may experience.
I told her that I was not interested in bariatric surgery, but she would not let up about it. She told me to go on the South Beach diet and to quit eating white stuff. She said no one gets to be my size unless they eat a lot of sugar and white stuff. I didn’t even try to argue with her or explain that actually I do eat quite healthfully, thank you very much, everything whole wheat (with my own fresh ground wheat for goodness sakes), almost all of my food made from scratch, tons of fruits and veggies. She was thoroughly convinced that skinny = healthy and fat = unhealthy. I will give you one guess which of those two categories she fell into.
She ran all of the typical tests and blood work and everything came back fine (what a SHOCK!). We still had yet to address the issue of my insomnia. When I asked her about it again, she said, “Oh, you probably have sleep apnea, which would explain why you are so tired all the time.” I tried to tell her that I have none of the other symptoms of sleep apnea-I don’t snore, I don’t wake up multiple times a night because I’ve stopped breathing etc… She would not listen.
Instead, she sent me for a $1500 sleep study, for which we had to pay out-of-pocket, for me to prove to her, that I did not indeed have sleep apnea. And then she asked me again to consider bariatric surgery. That was the last time I saw her. I never received any help whatsoever for the original reason I went in to see her. And I have not seen any doctor, other than for maternity care, since.
Reading this article made me think again about my experiences and how unjust they really were. Should I understand that just because I am fat that I am less deserving of quality medical care than someone who is thin and present with similar symptoms? Because I am fat, does that mean that I will never experience any health issues that might be unrelated, such as a sore throat or the common cold? Does it seem fair that my concerns and questions are completely dismissed just because of the number on a scale?
Of course not! None of that makes any sense, especially considering that a doctor is supposed to help and heal. I have a news flash for you-shame will NEVER cause someone to lose weight. When you make someone feel ashamed because of their weight, tell them over and over that they should have major surgery, and completely ignore them because of their weight, it does NOTHING to motivate that person to want to improve their health.
It may be hard for some to believe, but fat people actually KNOW they are fat!!! They don’t need to be told to go on a diet. No one needs to remind them to exercise. They (we) are reminded every time we look in the mirror or see a picture of ourselves or hear someone laugh at us behind our backs. Just because a person is fat does not mean they are any less deserving of quality healthcare.
I don’t want to be misunderstood as making a generalization that all doctors behave this way. I have had some AMAZING doctors as well. I have friends who are doctors and healthcare professionals. My point is not to condemn them in any way. Rather, my point is to acknowledge that this DOES happen. Discrimination does exist for people who have problems with their weight. Assumptions are made that should not be made. Feelings get hurt and in the end no one wins because the person does not receive the care that they need and deserve as a human being, and in turn the problem is only exacerbated, The potential exists for a continued decline in their health because of a fear of shame-based medical care.
I readily admit I avoid the doctor’s office because of it. I am not whining or complaining or feeling sorry for myself. What I would like to see happen is lines of communication opening and constructive discussions happening about how to solve this problem and how to encourage those in similar circumstances to continue to seek quality medical care and not be intimidated and ruled by fear and poor past experiences.
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the issue. Do you think Ida Davidson’s doctor behaved appropriately for someone in her profession? Have you ever experienced discrimination at the doctor’s office? Do you avoid going to the doctor because of your weight?