Anasthesiology: Too risky if you’re fat

Ceiswyn writes:

I’ve had an ankle condition for the last ten years that doctors have
been ignoring because of my weight. It finally looked as though I
might be able to have surgery to ameliorate the problem. And then I
met the anaesthetist.
“Hello, my name is Dr X. We have a big problem; your weight.”
“Yes, I’m aware it’s a problem.”
“Well, you know what the cause of that is, don’t you? It’s eating too much.”
The consultation went downhill from there. He told me I was at a
higher risk for problems from the general anaesthetic (which I knew)
but couldn’t or wouldn’t give me any idea of the scale of the risk,
despite repeated asking. He insisted that I cut my food intake in
half and lose weight quickly for the operation, and told me to my face
that I was lying about my dieting history (all twenty unsuccessful
years of it), and that he ‘didn’t believe’ the results of obesity
studies. He also informed me that it was healthier to regularly lose
and regain weight than it is to keep a stable weight.
In short, he gave me inaccurate and actively dangerous advice, and
left me in tears with no way of making an informed decision.
At the moment I’m strongly considering giving up all idea of
correcting my ankle condition, and just resigning myself to being
unable to walk. And when I get fatter and less healthy from lack of
exercise, I’m sure that’ll be my fault for eating too much as well.
I’m so angry about this. But what’s the point in complaining?

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11 Comments

  1. Monica

     /  July 13, 2009

    Tell the doctor who provided the referral, and ask for another anaesthetist. I’m sure there has to be one decent one out there, and there’s no way you should have to suffer because of this jackass.
    <3

    Reply
  2. Rachel

     /  July 13, 2009

    FIND A DIFFERENT DOCTOR!! DEMAND IT! YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ABLE TO WALK!!

    Besides, you can’t tell me there are NO anesthesiologists out there who deal with bariatric (that’s the official medical term for “obese”) patients. Criminently, how do you think they get weight-loss surgery done?

    He’s a HUUUUUUUUUGE asshole and you deserve better!

    Reply
  3. Rachel

     /  July 13, 2009

    BTW, my best friend had a total hysterectomy last December for Stage I, Phase II endometrial cancer. She weighed 318 pounds at the time of surgery. The anesthesiologist didn’t refuse to give anesthesia, or tell her to lose a bunch of weight before they would perform surgery. The only thing her weight contributed to was the fact her asthma (which she has had since she was a small child) wouldn’t allow for a vaginal hysterectomy (they tilt you on your head for that and that position exacerbated her asthma) so they opted for the abdominal hysterectomy.

    I pushed “send” too fast last post. You point out to this anesthesiologist that bariatric surgery on patients heavier than you is done all the time, and you’re sorry that he’s so incompetent that it’s beyond him. Then tell him he’s a bigot and stomp out of the office.

    (I realize that you probably won’t do the above, but it is pretty freeing to at least read about doing it, isn’t it?) :)

    Reply
  4. Rachel

     /  July 13, 2009

    Oops! One last message –

    Find out if the hospital where the surgery was to be done has a Patient Advocate. Their job is to make sure that doctors/nurses/lab techs/etc. treat patients respectfully, tactfully, and kindly while performing their jobs.

    Who knows how many people this idiot has killed because they just gave up on getting needed surgery?

    Reply
  5. I had gall bladder surgery at 340 lbs and I was never lectured about anethesia or anything leading up to the surgery regarding my weight.

    Competent doctors and surgeons know how to work with very large patients regarding anesthesia. If they can knock out us fatties for WLS, they can surely knock us out for ankle surgeries and other less risky operations. This one was apparently afraid of being sued, not to mention fatphobic.

    Report the behavior to the hospital and find someone else. Your quality of life shouldn’t suffer because of someone’s prejudice.

    Reply
  6. cicadasinmay

     /  July 13, 2009

    I have a friend who needs some kind of back surgery, but they won’t give it to her unless she has WLS first! It is outrageous.

    Reply
  7. Six surgeries on my leg and a gall bladder removal (laparascopic) all under general anaesthesia with no problem, and I’m over 300#. He has no excuse. Other than being a buttmunch, that is.

    Reply
  8. Wow!! What a complete jerk! Definitely get a new referral. Don’t let the likes of HIM dictate the quality of YOUR life! Hugs…

    Reply
  9. ceiswyn

     /  July 18, 2009

    I’m the OP.

    After I found out that the anesthesiologist I saw wasn’t the one who would be anaesthetising me on the day, I went ahead with the surgery after all, though I was *terrified*.

    The anaesthesia caused me to have an asthma attack on waking (my asthma never even come up in the original conversation!) but my *weight* caused no problems whatsoever.

    The surgery allowed them to discover what the original problem with my ankle was; a pit in the bone and cartilage, caused by trauma fifteen years ago, so not something that could ever have been much helped by weight loss. Oh, plus the damage that’s been done by regular spraining in the ten years that doctors have been ignoring the problem since. Having cleaned out all the rubbish that accumulated in the joint my ankle is no longer so unstable that it sprains every couple of days; in fact, it hasn’t sprained since the operation, and it’s stopped hurting in the cold, too.

    I’m so glad I did it, and I’m so *tired* of having to fight for decent healthcare. I’ve taken to avoiding doctors just because I can’t bear to have that argument again and again; and I know that’s just storing up problems for the future, but it’s a fear that doesn’t seem amenable to rational argument. I’m already worrying about when I have to have this done again in another ten years or so.

    Thankyou all for caring. That’s meant a lot to me.

    Reply
  10. Jackie

     /  July 23, 2009

    Sure, and you know this brings up something new I’ve discovered from fat haters.

    Apparently now if you are unwilling to take the good advice from people “concerned about your health” and insist there is real discrimination against fat people out there, you’re suffering from a persecution complex. The things they’ll come up with to defend their ability to judge fat people’s lives.

    Reply
  1. Mad Marshy: Anaesthesiology? Too Risky if You’re Fat.

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