I have been overweight since I was very young – except it was called puppy fat and ‘nothing to worry about’ right up until I was 14 and then those very same doctors who had laughed at my worries about being over weight switched to ‘why have you let yourself get so big?!’. I was blessed with being able to fall pregnant quite easily but had problems after my first c-section. My periods became irregular, painful and so very heavy. I had slightly more problems conceiving the next baby…but was blessed with twins. One died in vitro late in the pregnancy, but the doctors said this was good as it was one less risk! I delivered the twins by C-section and was treated very badly due to my weight post-natally. I tried hard to conceive, and then miscarried late. Again I received poor care due to my weight….I nearly died during the eventual miscarriage (it took 10 weeks after the baby had died for my body to lose it) and was blue-lighted to hospital – the doctor walked in, I was laid on the bed in labour with all the pain that goes with it, and devastated because i has stupidly believed that maybe the early scan was wrong and the baby was okay after all, there was blood everywhere as I’d been bleeding at home for 4 hours…the consultant’s first words? ‘Oh my goodness! Do you know you’re obese?! Have you tried to lose weight?’. My husband went nuts, he was so angry that the doctor felt it was okay to make such a comment at such a low moment in my life.
It took me over a year to conceive the next baby and my hospital was again lousy in their care, so I opted out (as is my legal right) and only had midwife care. At a scan, where I was humiliated and ridiculed by the consultant and her registrar, I had really had enough and I walked out and informed my husband that I wasn’t setting foot in there again. I had already discovered that the hospital’s unwritten policy was to c-section anyone who was very over weight or obese (despite the extra risks involved). The midwives were nervous, but supportive when they realised I was serious, and supported me in my choice to have a home birth. So I had a home birth. It was a wonderful experience. Then my BP dropped and my midwife suggested I go for a check-up at the hospital – just to sort out some BP meds. Whilst there the hospital decided I was obviously diabetic (just from looking at me – no need for tests!). I told them I wasn’t. They took my baby and put him in SCBU, told me he was going to suffer from withdrawal due to my diabetes! They put him nil by mouth and then his blood sugar dropped (anyone else spot the obvious reason…clue: nothing to do with diabetes!). They told me my milk would be useless as it would contain too much sugar so made me throw away all that important first milk!!! Eventually I forced them to test me – no diabetes! Oh, so then it was GESTATIONAL diabetes. I pointed out I’d been tested during pregnancy and was fine. The doctor declared that the tests were useless and many women of my size managed to pass the tests despite so obviously have diabetes! He told me my son was seriously ill, and it was caused by my size. It wasn’t until I looked into his claims and was far enough away from the situation to think straight, that I realised he had lied – all the problems my son had were caused by the 5 day nil by mouth and a dairy intolerance. Their main proof of it being my fault was he’d lost so much weight after birth…he was on nil by mouth. How on earth was he meant to gain any weight?! Well I put in several complaints about the treatment my son and I received…things like sitting in a room filled with posters of ‘kangaroo care is best’ and then told *I* couldn’t do kangaroo care because I was too fat and would make people feel sick! ‘Breast is best’ but told my milk would be ‘filled with the crap you stuff in your face’ . I was even made to sleep in a separate room because ‘fat people smell’ and ‘they might have nightmares about whales!’. All absolutely humiliating, especially the laughs and smirks after the comments!
My relationship with my GP hit rock bottom at this point too. I had failed to listen to medical advice, (home birth) and he seemed to see this as a personal affront! It was nothing, apparently, to do with the fact that one of the doctors I reported was a personal friend of his! I tried asking him for help with my still heavy periods. He told me to have a hysterectomy! I refused and said I would have as many children as I was blessed with, and didn’t think I should have such drastic surgery without even a test before hand! I then asked for advice and help with a discharge – he gave me antibiotics – the discharge stopped and I ended up with thrush. I got thrush treatment from my GP and the discharge came back. I asked for more treatment, got different antibiotics, got thrush again and yet again the discharge came back. My GP said ‘live with it. It’s due to your weight’. Then everything was my weight -even an injury from falling over. I gave up seeing my GP, and only saw him whilst taking my children to him.
Then my GP reported me to social services….unexplained injuries to my child? No. Something my children have said or implied? No. The reason? I am fat, ugly and smell! This apparently is emotional abuse as my children have to live with me as a mother! The fact that the smell he stated was the discharge he refused to investigate or treat (not a single swab was ever done) seems to be by the by. He also told social services that as I had refused and ignored the medical advice of a doctor for myself (ie refusing to have hospital care and a c-section) it was only a matter of time before I started to ignore medical advice for my children too! This, social services decided, counts as neglect. The fact that I am fat also was proof that I am uneducated (I am very well educated actually) and shows that I can’t see to ‘even the basic care’ of my children (the only one of my children to be over-weight is the oldest and she is 23 and only been over weight since she was 18-so not when I’m the one having to provide ‘basic care’). The conclusion of social services was that I am a bad parent who does see the damage I am doing to my children by looking the way I do! They have insisted that I am the one that collect my children with no exceptions (a comment of ‘the exercise will do you good’ was made but not included in the formal minutes!)…so when I have a period, and I’m flooding and have to sit on folded towels and change my protection every 20-30 minutes? Yep, I have to walk to pick up my children! My youngest children are on the at risk register for neglect and my social worker doesn’t offer any advice. I went to a dietitian whilst breastfeeding, and the diet she gave me I followed exactly – I was so hungry and my size 4 sister was horrified as she eats more than I was allowed. I lost 3 lb and my milk dried up…the dietitian said I must have been cheating as someone my size would lose 7lb or more on week one! I was so humiliated by the ‘child conference’ held by social services – where school teachers etc sat and listened to how fat I was and how sick I make people feel because of my size, that I have started to have panic attacks…I thought I was having a stroke or heart attack to start with, but they are now 2 or 3 times a day and I haven’t dropped dead yet! I have had to self-diagnose as I can’t bare to visit my GP…and social services say any attempt to change any health professional will be viewed as an attempt to hide something. I am petrified that if I don’t lose weight they will take my children away. I have tried to diet again – it started well with 2-3 lbs every week…but then it dropped to 1lb a week and then stopped. My heavy periods continue to dominate my life and I could do with proper medical advice – but I doubt I’ll get it, even if I could muster the guts to visit my GP. I haven’t had any contraception for 2 years now, but no sign of pregnancy…which is possibly for the best. I know I am blessed to have lots of children, but as long as my husband and I can take care of them financially I don’t see why the doctors have a right not to help us. I really don’t see why my weight is abuse to my children – they are healthy sizes, they have friends and those friends visit and even stay over…surely if I was that much of an embarrassment my children wouldn’t bring friends over and if I made people feel sick to look at me, those friends wouldn’t want to stay over either. I am so embarrassed and worried about ‘the smell’. I thought the discharge (which is only really smelly during the last few days of my period and a few days after) wasn’t bad enough for other people to detect. Now I am fearful of sitting too close to people in case it’s that bad they can smell it. I am so depressed, but trying to hide it as I know depression will count as more neglect towards my children in social services’ eyes. I weigh far too much to just lose it over night – I was 25 stone, but am now just below 22 stone. I should weigh no more than 8 stone…so that’s a huge difference. I am worried that my heavy periods are a sign of some problem that is just being ignored due to my size.
I spoke to a nurse at my GPs practice, and she told be that government policy was for surgeries to lose money from their budget for patients with high BP and over-weight or obese patients. This is meant to encourage doctors to help these patients become fit….from my experience it just makes the doctors despise the patients and give them bad health care. But if my GP thought he could get rid of me this way, he’s shot himself in the foot! Because now social services won’t let me change doctors! If he’d just asked I would have left his ‘care’ quite willingly.