Miscarriage, D & C scheduled, doctor suggests WLS

A reader writes:

First I want to say thank you so much for this blog. It makes me angry, but it also helps me feel understood.

I have always been fat. I was a fat child, a fat teenager, and now am a fat adult.

When my husband and I decided to try to have a baby, we discovered that I had a fertility issue (unrelated to my weight) that would prevent any sort of natural conception. Fast forward six years to our second IVF try and we were ecstatic that it worked. Until week 10 when I went in for my first scan and they found that the baby did not have a heartbeat. We were crushed. We decided that I would go off all medication that was supporting the pregnancy and wait for my body to spontaneously abort.

Unfortunately a week later, I ended up in the emergency room, bleeding heavily and in a significant amount of pain. I will say that I in all of these situations, my fertility doctor, the OB who did the first scan, and the ER staff & doctors, all of them treated me with respect and compassion. After receiving some pain medication, I opted to come back the next day for a D&C, considered a same-day surgery.

Here is where my story turns so awful. Because of my husband’s work duties, he was unable to accompany me to the surgery wing the next morning, although he was able to be there before I actually went into surgery and for my recovery. I waited alone for my file to get processed, for the nurse to take my blood pressure and temperature and finally I sat and waited for the anesthesiologist.

I got called back by Dr. H and walked back to sit at his desk. He ignored my medical history (which showed no prior problems with anesthesia at my weight) and began to detail all of the complications that can happen under anesthesia at my weight. Fine. Whatever. I was in a haze and pretty much ignored him unless I was asked a direct question.

But then he looked me in the eye and said, “You know, we have a really excellent bariatric surgery program here. You should think about doing it. You can always get pregnant again later. Your knees will thank you if you do it. I know you’re fine now, but that much extra weight will have a lot of repercussions later on.”

I sat there, stunned. And shamed. And to this day, thinking about it makes me cry. I said nothing in my own defense.

Later as I was laying in pre-op, a chaplain came by and prayed with me. Then he just stood and talked to me for awhile. Out of nowhere, Dr. H comes up to my bedside to check in before surgery. He looks across the bed at the chaplain and says, “I’ve been trying to talk her into doing our bariatric surgery program.”

Did I mention that pre-op is just a bunch of curtained off areas?

Thank God for the chaplain who glared at Dr. H until he left and then just stood with me and held my hand. The shame I felt was indescribable. I was already blaming myself and my body and my weight for being the reason that my baby was gone.

I didn’t tell anyone about what Dr. H said. I didn’t write an angry letter to the hospital. I tried to forget it, but even though that was almost 3 years ago, I remember every second of the horror that I felt. The way that my shame almost choked me.

You don’t have to post my story on your blog, but I felt that this was the time and place to share what happened. Maybe I will go ahead and write that letter telling the hospital how I was treated. I’m fairly new to the Fat Acceptance blog world and it’s going to take me some time to change the way my mind works. I’m hopeful that I can work to put that shame behind me and stop blaming myself for what happened.

Thanks for the venue and for reading this far.

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11 Comments

  1. hd1979

     /  May 16, 2011

    Oy I feel for you. I had a still birth recently and was not given enough pain medication to odo the job at my size and the anethesiologist kvetched the whole time. If you read back a number of posts you will see I also was in the er for something non related to weight and got the bariatric speech. Some doctors have the bedside mannor of cockroaches.

    Reply
  2. I’m so sorry about the loss of your baby. My heart goes out to you. And then to be pressured like this, during such a vulnerable time, for WLS!

    Please put aside what he said to you and remember the very significant profit motive involved in promoting WLS. He was marketing and recruiting for a for-profit program for his hospital.

    It’s not too late to complain. Write a letter complaining about him, and be sure to highlight the inappropriateness of the timing of his comments, and how insensitive he was about it. They won’t object to him offering WLS, but hopefully they will recognize the insensitivity of pushing this on you at that difficult time.

    Reply
  3. I understand the pain of blaming your body for a miscarriage – I miscarried my first pregnancy and went through a lot of self-hatred because of it.

    When I got pregnant again, during my very first visit, the obstetrician (whom I thankfully never saw again) suggested that although he “understood” that I wasn’t interested in discussing weight, a fact that I made very clear up-front, that if I “changed my mind” he could recommend a “great bariatric surgeon” post-pregnancy.

    I’m sorry for your terrible experience. I don’t know if you’ve had a child in the meantime but hope very much that it happens for you if it has not already done so, or that you’re able to find peace with how things have turned out for you. *hugs*

    Reply
  4. cate schultz

     /  May 16, 2011

    I am so sorry this moron inflicted even more emotional pain on you when you were grieving the loss of your child. It’s never too late to express it.

    Reply
  5. Elizabeth

     /  May 16, 2011

    You probably know this on some level, but I tell you out loud – you did nothing wrong. The doctor was grossly inappropriate. I won’t tell you not to feel shame, because there’s no use in trying to suppress feelings instead of experiencing them and putting them behind you, but I will tell you that the doctor ought to be ashamed of himself for trying to use his position in that way.

    I understand how you feel. I would be ashamed and embarrassed in that situation, too. You should never feel that you have to speak up for FA if you don’t have the emotional wherewithal to do it at any particular point – although you can certainly be proud of yourself when you do.

    If I could do it through the computer, I would offer you a hug.

    Reply
  6. Nicole

     /  May 16, 2011

    I’m going to echo Elizabeth here and just remind you that you have nothing to feel ashamed about. Nothing. One in five pregnancies (at least!) end in miscarriage, and their occurrence should be a cause for gentle care from everyone, especially from your doctor.

    In cases like this, I really wish I could be in charge of karma and make sure that doctor could someday feel a fraction of what you were going through that day. Do what you have to to feel better as much as you can, but you did nothing wrong and are not responsible for what happened to you. I am so sorry you had to go through it. I would like to think that someday we will look back at this chapter of our medical history as a society and cringe at the lack of compassion and ridiculous obsession with the number on the scale.

    Reply
  7. Tanz

     /  May 16, 2011

    I’d like to echo the others; you have nothing to be ashamed of. And I also wish I could give you a hug.

    Almost a year ago now I had a twins via a c-section. There were some complications during the surgery (bleeding) and they had to put me under a general to stop it and finish the operation. Later the OB (not my usual Doctor, but her stand in) told me complications were my fault, they we caused by my fat and I should seriously think about weight loss surgery. She said this while accompanied by 3 junior Doctors and one of the midwives. I wish I had complained, too.

    Reply
  8. Instead of MD, the letters after this doctor’s name should be ASS. What a world class jerk!
    A nurse that I worked with a number of years ago said that her OB was so “ashamed” by the amount of weight she’d gained during her second pregnancy that he refused to give her a hand to help her off the table after she’d given birth. Such people should not be allowed to work with living beings.

    Reply
  9. I am so sorry for your loss. The doctor’s callousness is beyond unbelievable. I will echo others, and encourage you to complain, even at this late date. Please mention the chaplain’s appropriate response as well, so they can see that you are not simply against everyone because of your grief. Instead, you are rightfully angry at such inhumane treatment as to be advertised to and preached to at such a vulnerable time. All who participated in that treatment should be fully ashamed of themselves. You, on the other hand, should NOT.

    Be well, and best wishes,

    Dawn

    Reply
  10. Piper

     /  June 27, 2011

    I’m so sorry that you went through that. Even though I am considering weight-loss surgery, I will say that no fat person deserves to be treated with disrespect. When will doctors get a clue? Also, I’m glad that the chaplain was there to comfort you in your time of loss. We are not to understand God’s ways but in continuing a relationship with Him, we come to find ourselves inexplicably without an answer but He is the answer. God bless you!

    Reply
  11. kj

     /  August 13, 2012

    I wish you could have offered that only a prior Lobotomy would be good enough explanation for his poor tact and gross indecency.

    Reply

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