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First, Do No Harm is edited by bloggers and body acceptance activists Barbara Benesch-Granberg, Kate Harding, Rachel Richardson, Fillyjonk, and Vesta44.

Please send your stories, comments and questions about the blog to fathealth at gmail dot com. When submitting a story, please tell us what name you’d like us to use if we publish it. Also, be aware that we may edit submissions for length or clarity.

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27 Comments

  1. I really appreciate your site, and it’s importance in fighting size prejudice. Some of the stories really are horrifying. I always have had a problem understanding the sheer ignorance of some people, and in regards the stories, it makes me want to go up to those doctors and yell, “What in the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

    There is a film from Germany, which is subtitled into English. It’s called Anatomy, and I really suggest you watch it. The film is about the concept of human experimentation, and actually, if you have any problems with disturbing imagery or gore and stuff, you probaly shouldn’t see the film.

    The film is about the idea that there is a Anti-Hippocratic society, that feels it’s fine to experiment on humans, and plastinate them against their will. It’s obviously inspired by the tragedies that took place in Germany during WW2. What I find fascinating about the movie, especially in regards to this site, is that it shows that in some cases there are still Anti-Hippocrates in our society. I don’t want to give away the ending, but if you decide the film is too graphic for you, then I’ll tell you. I watch alot of horror films, so I admit I’m rather desensitized to alot of what most people would find highly disturbing. I feel what doctors are doing regarding weight loss surgery, is enforced medical experimentation.

    I sincerely hope your site does help people realize that size-prejudice, especially as a medical professional, is beyond immoral.

    I read in a book called, The Medical Science of House M.D, That the 2002 Physician Charter states, ” Physicans should work actively to eliminate discrimination in health care, whether based on race, gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, religion, or any other social category.”

    It only took 4 years before they threw that to the side.

    Reply
  2. I am so glad you started this blog.
    I hope that health care professionals read it and learn from it.
    I think many health care professionals are not aware of the impact of their words — most often, they think no one takes their advice (and in the cases illustrated here, that would be a good thing).
    I have similar stories about health professionals that I will think about sharing — I have been very fortunate to have good and sensitive health care providers of late.
    The system we have (especially for people who are poor) can make it hard to change doctors. It makes it hard to give feedback so health care professionals can improve. It plain old makes it hard to get preventative care.
    Thank you for this work.

    Reply
  3. Eden

     /  November 12, 2007

    This is such a fantastic project. Thank you so much.

    I wanted to point to a link for people in Ontario who want to file a complaint against a doctor – http://www.cpso.on.ca/Info_Public/compform.htm

    Reply
  4. Mandark

     /  November 16, 2007

    Yes, thank you for starting this. I’ll make sure that my sister, who is a Nurse Practicioner, is aware of it–and her colleagues, too.

    Reply
  5. Linda Hamon

     /  January 30, 2008

    In June 2007, I began to have pain in my left knee. I made a visit to my primary care physician who diagnosed a Baker’s cycst. He put me on a medral pack and told me to come back in two weeks. When I made my return visit and the knee had improved, I asked him about exercises to strenghten the knee. He looked at me and said that he would recommend lap band surgery. I was shocked. I am overweight, but I had come to him for help for a problem. I told him I was in Weight Watchers and wanted to begin walking on my treadmill again. He said, “you can’t walk on that knee. You can’t loosed enough weight to make a difference.” I was shocked and discouraged.

    I later had orthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn miniscus. I’m walking fine, but hate to go back to this doctor, because of his attitude.

    Reply
  6. Elizabeth

     /  January 31, 2008

    My name is Elizabeth and I may not be overweight but I do have a similar problem that I felt I should tell someone about. This happened yesterday. I was diagnosed with bursitis recently and was prescribed an antinflammatory for it. It helped with the pain but I gained at least 5 lbs. of water weight. I look like a granny smith apple on a toothpick and it is extremely uncomfortable. I had evidence that it wasn’t fat but guess what he told me. He called me fat, a pig, and then said I should join weightwatchers!

    I also had been mistreated by my previous doctor because I was on low levels of antidepressants. Not because I was depressed but because of the fibromyalgia. I have what is now a mild case but I could never sleep because of low serotonin levels associated with this condition. Low doses of a certain antidepressant raised my levels enough to sleep again. Unfortunately, my other previous doctor never informed me that it was in fact an antidepressant. Ever since then my doctors after that have completely ignored evrything I have ever said. Because of that it took several years to be diagnosed with celiac sprue, a very comlpicated and misdiagnosed allergy. Anyway, I know that this whole antidepressants thing is wholly unrelated to what this blog is about but I felt that it was worth a shot.

    Reply
  7. wellroundedtype3

     /  February 2, 2008

    I injured my knee in a freak accident and went to the emergency room. All went fine there, but I was told that I needed to see my internist in a couple of days. My internist had left his practice, so I was assigned to see another internist in the group. I had never seen him before. I walked in, he looked at me and saw that I was walking pretty well, he poked around on my knee, and then said that it seemed to be fine. Then out of the blue, he noted that I had gained several pounds since I last saw my previous internist and told me I needed gastric bypass surgery. This from a doctor I’d never seen before, who had run no tests, etc. Needless to say, I haven’t seen him since.

    Reply
  8. Christel

     /  February 19, 2008

    Hi, tried to send a message to the fathealth addy but it bounced, so her eit is. You can reprint it if you like:

    About five years ago I had just moved to San Francisco and went into a Planned Parenthood for a refill on my birth control pills. I am 5’2″ and weighed 180 at the time. I disclosed all of my medications and medical history on the intake form, which included Effoxor XR (I’d been on it almost a year). The nurse told me that she would like to refill me for 12 months but was only able to do 3 months because my blood pressure reading was very high. She told me it was because I was overweight and that I needed to lose weight to lower it. I told her I’d never, NEVER had high blood pressure before, not even when I weighed almost 20 pounds more. I am also very physically active, and told her that as well. I haven’t had a car in a long time and I walk everywhere. She stuck to her guns and insisted it was my weight.

    A few months later I ran out of Effexor and money at the same time, so I weaned myself off of it and decided to see how I did without it for a while.

    Two years ago I started having mental health problems again and I talked to the RN who did my annual pap about it. She wrote me a prescription for Effexor since I had taken it before with good results. Around the same time I started having stomach problems and lethargy (a whole other story) and was seeing multiple specialists for these issues. At one visit the intake nurse remarked that my blood pressure was “a little high” but she didn’t say what it was. I mentioned it to my psychiatrist the next time I went in and she had her nurse re-take it because Effexor causes high blood pressure in some people. It was 155/110!! I had to go off the Effexor immediately. When I changed meds my blood pressure dropped back to normal almost immediately.

    If I hadn’t stopped taking it on my own years before, and if I hadn’t told my psychiatrist about the elevated reading, I may have had a stroke by now. Not only did the nurse at Planned Parenthood totally mess up, but so did my internist and every single other specialist I had seen in that span on time. All but one didn’t even MENTION my BP to me.

    During the investigation of my persistent tiredness it was recommended that I have a sleep study by one of my other doctors as they thought I might have narcolepsy. When I called to make the appointment with the sleep lab the woman who made the appointment explained that to check for narcolepsy you have to first do a night study and then a day study the following day. The night study has to be done the night before the day study. She asked me a bunch of questions about symptoms, and also my height and weight. Then she put me on hold. She came back and said that the doctor thinks because of my weight that I have sleep apnea so only a night study would be required. I told her I didn’t HAVE any specific symptoms of sleep apnea, but she insisted that I ONLY needed a night study.

    So I went in, did the study, which was hellish by the way as I couldn’t sleep at all with all that sh!t attatched to me, and surprise, surprise, I did not have ANY sleep apnea. Only there were not any doctors available to do a day study so GUESS WHAT?! I got to go back and do ANOTHER night study before they could do a day study. Gee, thanks for wasting $9000+ of MY MONEY!, not to mention my time and my sanity.

    Once again, it was my psychiatrist who pegged it after all these expensive and invasive tests (including the always popular diabetes blood sugar check, which I had taken and passed dozens of times). She asked me if they had checked my vitamin B-12 levels. I said no, so she ordered the bloodwork. Lo and behold I has stopped absorbing B-12 from my food years ago. But of course since I’m fat it MUST have been caused by my weight somehow.

    Reply
  9. Kelly B

     /  April 22, 2008

    I hope I can find a fat-friendly doctor in my new community (I’m moving in a couple of months) because I haven’t been too lucky where I currently live, and I have had bad experiences throughout my life.

    My very first pap was devastating for me. My doctor (a female) shoved the speculum in (didn’t give me time to relax) and then pulled it back out. She said, “There’s too much tissue on your abdomen”-meaning my abdomen had too much fat on it. She said, “But it’s okay, I didn’t see anything you need to worry about”. Later, I wrote her a letter asking her to refer me to a gynecologist who may find it easier to perform the procedure. Her response? She kicked me out of her practice, saying, “I don’t find any way to resolve your issues”. I did find another doctor to perform the procedure, and she was shocked when I told her what happened. She said it can be done on anyone, regardless of weight, if the practitioner takes their time and is gentle.

    I haven’t had many fat-friendly doctors since. I was diagnosed with High BP several years ago, and all I get told to do it lose weight. In the last year, after being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (hello family genetics) I lost 50 lbs more than 10% of my body weight, the magical # we’re always told will make a difference) in one year-my BP has not come down, nothing has changed. Weight loss isn’t the answer!

    Many years ago, my mother started having bizarre symptoms such as uncontrollably high BP, heart problems, fatigue, etc. For 10 years she was shuttled from specialist to specialist, many of whom told her it was her weight. One even said, “If you just got off your ass and qui eating bonbons, you wouldn’t have this problem”. Finally, a kidney specialist did the right tests and found out she had Hyperaldostronism-tumours on the adrenal glands on her kidneys. It was like she was in constant “fight or flight” mode. The tumours were removed, but she has suffered permanent heart and kidney damage, and is in kidney failure. No physician has even apologized for what they did to her, and she is suffering the consequences.

    I’ve been putting off returning to the doctor this round, as normally she wants to see me every 3 months for maintenance of my diabetes, which is under control. I am tired of talking about it, doing the tests, waiting to see if the numbers make her happy. I haven’t had a pap since 2000, because I don’t feel comfortable enough to relax in front of her.

    Reply
  10. Lena

     /  April 24, 2008

    You have not written since March, why are you not updateing this good blog?

    Reply
  11. Lena – Because I am the only one who now updates this site and I have been extremely busy.

    Reply
  12. Sherrie Hathcock

     /  February 15, 2009

    I have several stories to mention because I have suffered from a lifetime of abuse by “medical professionals” throughout my lifetime, even though not one of these supposed pros took the time to find out why I became large at such an early age. The first of these experiences came when I was 10. The family doc had a picture wall of all his patients and when I offered him my most recent school picture he said no thanks I will wait until you loose wait and become pretty. I was devastated. I had many “small” incidents like this and then several major ones like the next two I will mention in detail. The first one was at the hands of one of the top ob/gyns in the state of North Carolina. I was being treated for endometriosis and the suggested treatment was an ablation surgery which I consented to. On the day of the operation I was given a light sedative before being wheeled into surgery but I was still quite coherent I closed my eyes because I did not like watching them counting scalpels and such. When the surgeon came in the room she must have thought I was totally out because she proceeded to tell one of the nurses that she did not even know why she was doing this surgery because I was just a gross waste of human flesh! I was terrified about what would happen to me. This is not the type of thought you want running through your mind before you go under the knife. The second major incident was when I was taken to the emergency room at our local hospital following an accident in which I was struck by a car while going up the road in my power wheelchair. I was in horrific pain and even after being given 8 grains morphine I was still unable to stand the pain, the doc came in touched my body lightly through the sheet in 3 spots on each side of my body and then said the needed to find some place to do a MRI or CAT scan because there was no way their equipment would hold me. After 2 hours of body wracking pain I asked what was being done and he said I would have to wait there until morning because they could not find anywhere to scan me. I asked what would be done if nobody was found and he said loudly enough for other people in the ER to hear that “I guess we could always call the zoo” You can’t imagine the additional pain and hurt this man caused me. Because of him I was afraid to get additional medical attention which I still need. What happened to DO NO HARM. Don’t doctors realize that the human spirit determines alot of ho well we heal.

    Reply
  13. Jennifer

     /  May 17, 2009

    I am not sure if this blog is still active but here is my experience..

    I was seeing a new gynecologist for an annual exam. I was weighed and told to change into my gown. Once I did the doctor came in and with little introductions, proceeded to make fun of my weight. Looking at my chart she says “oh.. you’re a big girl aren’t you!!” To which I just sat in silence, my mouth open. She continued with ” I mean, do you EVER exercise?” (and was laughing) I wasn’t even able to answer, I just sat there and held back tears.

    Not only did this doctor berate me for my weight, she also didn’t even do her job. After the exam I discussed the possibility of me having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome with her. Her response? “yeah, you could have it, I don’t see any sense in investigating it until you want to have children.”

    I have had similar situations with doctors since then.

    I understand that doctors are annoyed and feel the need to have a temper tantrum and lash out at us for being overweight. But this abuse needs to stop. So many doctors are arrogant, hypocritical bullies who, when confronted with someone who does something against their wishes, choose to ignore their responsibilities as a healer.

    Reply
  14. Sorcha

     /  August 4, 2009

    I’ve been seeing the same doctor since before my son (age 12) was born. Over that time, I’ve gained about 60 pounds. I’ve varied a bit here and there, but generally I’m now around 245, 5’8″.

    It took me a while to realize just how fat-phobic she is – or maybe it took me accepting myself to realize it. Regardless, for the past few years everything that’s wrong with me, she puts down to my weight. Diabetes? My weight – even though it runs in my family and I was already hypoglycemic when my weight was “healthy.” Plantar fasciitis? My weight, even though I’ve had ankle and foot problems most of my life.

    The kicker, though, and the one that has me looking for a better doctor, is that she told me if I lost weight my depression would go away. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, clinical depression, and OCD when I was a teenager (and a size 10). The first time I tried to kill myself, I was eleven. She knows my mental health history, and yet, she still said it. I was dumbfounded, but I’m actually glad she did. That was the wakeup call I needed to realize that it was time I found a new doctor.

    Reply
  15. Miss Silver

     /  August 27, 2009

    Thank you, THANK YOU for keeping this blog. I simply cannot believe that some of the “doctors” are allowed to keep practicing. Few things infuriate me more than doctors who focus on just one thing and overlook a potentially MAJOR problem.

    My story is not as serious as some, but it involves a healthy amount of “it’s just weight” and I still bristle thinking about it.

    When I was in high school, I was a little bit “above the average” in weight, but balanced it out at a 5’9 height. I also have the infamous “birthing hips” and am curvy, so the 150 lbs was normal.

    Enter college, enter the birth control pill and enter me going from a size 8 to a size 16 in almost a year. At that time, I met my then-husband. He attributed the weight gain to the pill, so I talked to the doc and switched.

    The weight gain continued and along with it came hair thinning, irritability, lethargy and the chills. I was ALWAYS cold.

    I went to a new GYN about another pill switch, maybe a non-hormonal IUD. I got refused the IUD and instead was recommended a crash diet that consisted of tea, fluids and nothing else. The GYN told me that she did that and lost three dress sizes. “That cannot possibly be healthy,” I said to her. She just shrugged and told me that it’s my choice if I want to lose the weight or not. I ranted to my then-husband about it, he said the same thing, that the weight was my choice.

    At roughly that time, my mother got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She has very little thyroid left; she never questioned her weight throughout her life (she’s 5’5 and 220 lbs to this day), never asked for any sort of a screening and had no reason to go to a doctor until her last bout of the flu. Her current GP ran a blood panel and Mom’s TSH levels were off the charts (normal TSH is 1-5). She suggested that I may have the same thing.

    I spoke to my then-husband, who promptly dismissed it with “You’re too young for this disease.” I spoke to my GP about it and while he knew about my mother, he wanted to talk to me about my diet first. Was the possibility of Hashimoto’s even mentioned? Nope. My thyroid was ‘lagging’ according to him, but it would get better once I lost the weight. I tried bringing it up, he echoed my husband with the “too young” factor.

    Guess what happened. If you say “the weight kept coming on”, you’d be right.

    I left the husband for other reasons, but thought I should visit my mother’s GP in either case. Lo and behold – TSH was 28. And at that time, I was 250 lbs and still gaining. I walked out with a scrip for Synthroid at 75mcg.

    It’s three years later. I’m 24 years old and at 180 lbs, getting back into a size 10. And apparently no, I wasn’t too young for Hashimoto’s, because my mother’s GP, whom I stayed with, had to increase my dosage again recently because despite being on a moderate dose of Synthroid, my thyroid is still backsliding.

    Reply
  16. Jean

     /  March 21, 2010

    This is a bad news/good news story. I hope it will inspire others to not give up trying to find a compassionate doctor.

    When I joined Group Health Cooperative in Seattle (a non-profit HMO) I made an appointment to meet my new “primary care” doctor (an older man and specialist in internal medicine). On the day of my first (and last) appointment with this man, he opened the door, stood in the hall with his hand on the door-nob, scowling at me, and said, “What can I do for you?” This was said in a voice laden with scorn while he looked at me with disgust plain on his face.

    I sized him up, noted his extremely rude behavior, and said with utter calm, “Well, you can start by coming into the room and having a seat.” I felt like I was talking to an angry child. He huffed and stomped into the room and proceeded to make it VERY clear that he saw no reason to try to help me with any of my chronic medical conditions as it was obvious to him that I would be non-compliant and do nothing he recommended. The word “obesity” managed to fall from his lips about twenty times in ten minutes. I demanded that he refill my prescription for insulin and thyroid medication (the bare minimum I needed from him while I moved on to look for a different doctor) and he huffed out of the room.

    The good news is that I didn’t give up. I searched to find a woman doctor with a reputation of being “nice” and found my current doctor. She has helped me with a positive attitude, a smile and complete compassion. She understands that no one decides, “Hey, I think I’ll become obese and insulin resistant. That sounds like fun!” Instead, she sees me as someone who is working hard at being as healthy as possible. Even if I’m not always successful, I am making progress due in part to her encouragement and positive attitude. Take a note, doctors! Being kind and supportive is MUCH more helpful than scowling and making dire predictions from your high horse!

    Reply
  17. Emily

     /  May 6, 2010

    Hi,
    I love your work and your sites. I hope to write more later, but right now I am having a big problem that I hope someone there can help with. I am looking for doctors in the New York City area who are size-accepting. I am having a lot of health problems that are severely interfering with my work and life, and I am being told it is just because I am fat. I know that it is not because I am fat, because I have been at this same weight for years and not felt like this. I used to train like an athlete at this weight and now I can barely walk down the block. Please help if you can. I am looking for an endocrinoogist, rheumatologist, and internist. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  18. Marvin Ivery

     /  June 6, 2010

    My name is Marvin and I wish to file a tort claim against Va Hospitals in Detroit and Ann Arbor for the following reasons. Fraud, abuse, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault, deliberate false statements in medical records, False diagnosis in order to cause harm, intentional denial of life sustaining medical treatment and services. They have caused me mental and physical suffering. I am requesting your help to cause to the Veterans Hospital in Detroit and Ann Arbor to treat my Medical conditions. I am an honorably discharged veteran of the Marine Corps. The last few years have been very difficult and I don’t know how long I can hold out. I feel I am losing myself. I have pleaded for help from both hospitals without success. I have called the suicide hot-line four times trying to get help. I have called and written the hospital directors office, the patient’s advocates, I have contacted the Marine Corps league, American legion, Congresswoman Kilpatrick, John Dingle, and Debbie Stabeanow, President Obama, and no one will help me. I have a substance abuse, depression history and I feel that they use this to justified not treating me. I am scared of the staff member because of staff’s constant use of hospital security guard to threaten and harass me. I have never had a violent incident at any Veterans hospital; however the hospital staff consistent lies and profiles me as a violent person with no adequate evidence or history. Please help this is a very serious matter, I want to get better. I struggle with homelessness and maintaining a residents, I can’t sleep, focus, I am isolating, and I am very depressed. Veteran’s hospitals have some great services for Veterans who suffer with the same or similar conditions, but I can’t excess treatment. I know for a fact that there conduct is a vicious malicious deliberate act to harm me. I can explain and provide evidence for why I feel this way. Please, don’t dismiss me as just another crazy veteran who is making up conspiracies; I am not crazy or delusional I am not making this up, I can prove it. Please I have no criminal background; I have served my country and worked most of life until I became disabled around 2001. I am a large African American male (connect to profile). I have not broken any veterans hospital rules although I am sure they will tell you I have. I beg you; please don’t take their word for it someone needs to investigate. I will sign any release necessary. You will find staff misconduct and violations of federal laws in their effort to deny me treatment and services. I can’t access any appeals or due process procedures. I don’t know what to do. I am in severe Pain, I don’t feel I can make it if I don’t get help. Please help me. Marvin eight years in the Marines.
    Initials: MCI

    Reply
  19. is it ok if i link to this blog from a tumbler about healthcare? i’m just beginning it and i’d appreciate being able to link to posts while giving credit where it’s due as to what are good examples and bad examples of how the current system works in america. i’d love to do so but would perfer to have permission first before i do so since i don’t know if it would be appreciated or not.
    respectully,
    lyn

    Reply
  20. I am so happy to have found this! I’m fat…and I have epilepsy. To compound the matter, most anti-seizure medications cause weight gain and drowsiness. My last neurologist, while being a pretty nice guy, was always on me about how badly I needed to lose weight so that the risk of injury when I fall from seizures would be lessened. That I can understand. On my last few visits with him, however, he became much more insistent, as he didn’t see any change on the scales. Tearful, I told him that I had been trying to lose weight, but had been unsuccessful. He asked me what I was doing to try to lose weight, with what I perceived to be an almost condescending tone. I told him I had started to exercise 2-3 days a week, 30 min. a day, cut out red meats, decreased caloric intake, switched to fresh, whole foods only – nothing prepackaged… He smirked at me, and cut me off in mid sentence and said “You are still focused on food! You are not going to lose weight until you get food out of your head! You simply have to stop eating.” He went on to tell me that I could run 5 miles a day and it would only burn x amount of calories, and that would barely be half of one meal, so the only real way to lose weight is to stop eating. He didn’t say stop eating breakfast, or stop eating junk food. He said stop eating. Period. I was humiliated, ashamed, and felt as though this physician was telling me that there was simply no hope for me other than starvation and becoming anorexic.

    Reply
  21. Michele

     /  March 30, 2012

    Hi – I found your blog in the aftermath of a visit to my doctor about my rapid unexplained weight gain that left me shocked and in tears.

    I have always been super health and exercise conscious, but over the last year I have gained 25 pounds and no amount of dieting or exercise will shift the scales. I consider myself very nutrition conscious – in fact health and nutrition have always been personal interests of mine. After trying several doctors, who all simply referred me to community dieticians who: 1. told me about calorie intake and the food pyramid 2. Advised me to ‘move more eat less’ 3. gave me a printout of the Paleo Diet from the internet, I decided to visit an eminent and expensive doctor in my area. After explaining that I tried everything, that I was very well informed about exercise and nutrition and was looking to discover if there was another cause of my inability to lose weight, he started a barrage of the most astonishing comments. The worst part was, these comments were not addressed to me, but to a very young, very slim med student who was sitting in on the consultation. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow description, but a selction of his comments included:

    “No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out fat”
    “Have you ever read the book “Why French Women don’t get Fat”?
    “Cut out those chocolate biscuits at morning tea” ( I hate chocolate)
    “Don’t you have any other interests, hopes dreams that you could be thinking about instead of food?”
    “Have you ever been to Europe where people really respect good food?” (I guess the assumption here was that I live on burgers and fries? In fact I lived in Europe for 20 years and am very interested in cooking and food of different countries)
    And my favourite – directed to the student: “What do we call people who make the same mistakes over and over and expect a different outcome?”
    To her credit, the young med student looked mortified, but not as mortified as me..My lip was quivering and I could barely speak. I walked out of there with a pathology referral whch was not explained to me, shell shocked and devestated.

    I now find myself even more humiliated, feeling worthless and not entitled to having anyone give a damn about helping me resolve my weight issues. And guess what, if this rate of weigh gain continues, I will represent a worse health risk and get treated even worse by the medical profession!

    Reply
  22. "Obese" daughter of a long-term weight-loss "success" story

     /  June 11, 2012

    My parents are always nagging me to lose weight. I already exercise. I admit I could stand to reduce my consumption of dessert foods (choc chip cookies, brownies etc.), I often end up eating more of these than I mean to and it’s hard to stop. But I still dislike all the nagging. It’s okay when Mom has something more pragmatic to offer–for example, she let me try out her wii fit equipment, which led to our decision to buy this for our own use at home. I don’t use wii much right now, but this is partly because I have now learned many of the exercises i used to do on the wii well enough to do them by myself while watching TV, which is more interesting than watching a wii instructor do exercises I already know how to do on the screen. I appreciated being shown the Wii and buying it (despite the way that the Wii is programmed to be so annoyingly nagging about weight also) because it gave me more options for exercising well at home on days when weather doesn’t permit for much walking out of doors, and for figuring out weight resistance exercises I could do without weight lifting equipment (apart from a few barbells that I bought). But when Mom is simply bugging me yet again to watch my diet, exercise more etc. it gets frustrating, annoying, and demoralizing. I have been overweight basically since childhood: I remember making the mistake of confiding to one “friend” at age 10 that I was 125 pounds and she teased me about it. Of course I was a few inches shorter then than I am now; now my weight hovers in the upper 190s (though it did also hover at 190 for a while too, and was as low as upper 160s about a decade or so ago).

    I have had doctors lecture me about weight also. Some more than others. Though nothing remotely as horrofic as some of the experiences described at your blog. Many of which are heartbreaking.

    You know how people in the Health at Any Size movement often point out how rare it is for a person to, not simply lose weight, but then also keep it all off for five years or more? Here’s the thing. My Mom actually *is* one of those people who HAS kept it all off for more than five years. She credits this to Weight Watchers and their “points” system. And discipline. She lost more than 50 pounds (I still see the “50 pound” star on her refrigerator when I visit) and has not gained any of it back.

    I haven’t even tried talking with her about the Health at Any Size thing. Ditto for my doctors (of whom I see several including specialists). Partly because I’m still learning about it and still trying to figure out how I really feel about it (it has some concepts I like … I agree it makes sense to worry about proper exercise and nutritiously well balanced foods (including plenty of veggies and a bit of fruit as well as whole grains etc) before getting too focused on weight. And I do agree it makes sense that some of the negative effects of obesity might have something to do with the fatphobia we experience from the medical industry, and that this possible effect has not been studied nearly enough (has it been studied at all??). After all, discrimination seems to have negative effects on the health of other populations experiencing marginalization (eg black people, etc), so why wouldn’t it also have an impact on people who doctors perceive as being “overweight” or “obese”? I’m still not 100% convinced that all this necessarily means I can afford to just completely ignore my weight altogether and just carry own eating as many chocolate chip cookies as I want (one of the treats I often eat too much of). (Am NOT saying this to dissuade anyone from thinking otherwise, I recognize there is the entire rest of the internet for this kind of debate ad nauseum and I do not want to engage in any related debate in any case, esp. when I’m still in the middle of sorting out my own feelings on the issue … meaning, I’m not opposed to the concept of “Health at any size” just still ambivalent about which parts feel like a right “fit” for me and which I’m still unsure of. Am only saying all this to make aware of my own on-going ambivalence and conflicted thoughts/feelings on the whole issue and (more to the point) how these contribute to my feeling hesitant about the idea of talking too much about “health at any size” and other related concepts with my parents, doctors, etc., or anything else that might get them to ease up a bit and focus more on other health issues more easily within my control. It’s hard to speak confidently and knowledgeably on these topics when still feeling muddled about them. Note that my mother BEING one of those rare long-term weight loss success stories makes it that much harder for me to argue my corner with her.)

    I have an urge to ask for advice/guidance, except that I’m having trouble articulating what exactly I could use advice on. Which I realize is not too elucidating :-) Maybe I just needed to vent about how unhelpful it can feel when parents/doctors keep bugging me about my weight. And wishing they would back off.

    Thanks for listening.

    Reply
  23. Little Magpie

     /  January 17, 2013

    Found your site from elsewhere in the FA blogoverse, and OMG… I think I was reading people’s stories for something like an hour… it’s like the proverbial train crash that you can’t look away from.

    I actually really *don’t* have a horrific story, but wanted to put my 2-cents in on some of the issues raised by these stories.

    I’m 34, have been overweight to obese since before puberty; I hardly ever weigh myself because I don’t want to worry about, but I’m ?maybe 235lbs? (at a guess) on 5’4″ frame. And I actually do have bad eating and exercise (none) habits. (Not that how we get to fatness matters, it’s still appropriate to shame!) I also work in a small GP office – my mom’s! (reception/clerical stuff: I’m not a nurse or anything like that.) No formal training but I’ve absorbed a goodly amount of medical knowledge from having a Dr mom and from working at that office for as long as I have.

    We’re far from perfect on the size-acceptance, I’m well aware that part of the drill is the weight loss recommendations, but it’s not the main event. More like “Yup, you still would be well advised to lose weight / quit smoking / … etc …., and, having gone through the motions, what concern brings you in today? ….

    I wanted to comment about the weight loss surgery question. From what I’ve seen at work, lap-banding is often not terribly effective (at its stated goal of causing weight loss). What does work is the much more drastic Roux-en-Y – which, as well as making the stomach smaller in size, reattaches it farther down the small intestine. Basically, as well as the smaller stomach -> “full” feeling sooner -> ingesting less food, therefore less calories method, it also engineers nutrient malabsorption. The three patients in our practice who have had it done – all women, by the way… all three of them have a bunch of other medical problems, not caused by their (previous) obesity, which of course, aren’t going to be magically fixed. Two of them have, yes, lost lots of weight and kept it off (at 2+ years and, hmm, I think 4 or 5 years, to date); the other one had hers more recently, so how it looks long term remain to be seen. So yeah, it doesn’t magically make you healthy; you end up pretty much having to take humungo-megadoses of some vitamins so as to absorb enough; you will probably lose lots of weight – and you will probably end up having to have plastic surgery after, because you will probably have a huge floppy flap of skin where you lost all that weight from your tummy, but the skin doesn’t magically un-stretch. (and the breasts, too.)

    For myself… one interesting thing over the years is that as I’ve switched from one birth control pill to another looking for the best fit (in terms of menstrual symptom relief), I keep getting a *different* type of jumping to conclusions based on physical appearance. “This one may be more help with the acne.” It’s actually kind of funny because, yes, still get zits as an adult, but nothing crazy, not like awful teenage acne or anything. Maybe more often than the average person my age, but not out of control. So I’m like, “huh?” And then I’ll say, look, I’m really more concerned that it control my cramps and that I don’t have all sorts of spotting; if it makes the zits better, great, but that’s the least of my concerns.

    The one weird experience I had was this. PCOS was mooted around for a long time, but it didn’t really fit the picture clinically. But my mom and I thought, may be mild, but there are some slight androgenic effects going on. First of all, that fatness of mine? very much on the front: big breasts, big belly … and absolutely no rear end. In other words, when the weight comes on, it goes on the waist, like a man, not the hips, like a woman. Secondly, I have very, very muscular legs, much more like the pattern you’d seen on a man. And some smaller clues. So, I asked my GP to refer me to an endocrinologist. When I saw her, it was all about the weight. She wasn’t nasty about it, but it was as if I’d gone there to talk about weight and how to avoid developing type 2 diabetes, and I’m like, well actually what I came to you about was to discuss if there’s some androgenic hormonal imbalance going on. I did manage to sort of derail her… But the conclusion was this. The hormonal blood levels were actually *not* weird, so we didn’t really have much of an answer, and her supposition is that what happened in my case was that because I had abdominal obesity *before* puberty, (true) and hormones build up in fat (true) that what happened is that abdominal obesity going into puberty meant more androgens in the system because of that; and the more androgens in the system lead to continuing abdominal obesity, and that’s why the pattern continues. (Don’t estrogens and progesterones also accumulate in fat? Do androgens have a special relationship to the belly fat?) This is plausible, but it also kind of adds up to throwing her hands up and saying “you’re fat in the tummy because you’ve been fat in the tummy.” I’m not too bothered by the whole affair because I wasn’t doing this to figure out how to fix my fatness, I just wanted to make sure that this wasn’t the sign of some dreadful horrible disease. Which I think we pretty much figured out it wasn’t.

    So that’s my piece.

    As horrifying as it is, I’m glad this blog exists. Keep it up, folks!

    Reply
  24. It saddens me, to read these stories. The take-away I hope you all have is, this is not so much fat-prejudice as it is gender-prejudice. It all goes back to the old saw, people do not listen to, or take seriously, the complaints of women. Whether it is about weight, hormonal imbalance, thyroid health, headaches, fibromyalgia symptoms, arthritis, menstrual problems, menopause, pregnancy, childbirth osteoporosis, dental problems, abuse, or anything else that women commonly have issues with – we are routinely not heard, not respected, not supported, and not treated.

    In respect for the men, yes, you probably experience fat prejudice. But please, have compassion for your friends, sisters, mothers and daughters – we experience prejudice every single day, about a variety of things, and being “fat” is just one of them.

    Reply
  25. About 3 years ago, my husband had developed a cough. It did not seem that bad at first, but within a couple of days it was horrible. He would wake himself up at night coughing. One night it was so bad he started coughing and could not stop. He couldn’t catch a breath and coughed until he threw up-then he almost passed out. We took him to the ER, the doctor walked in, said there was nothing he could do as my husband was just a fat smoker. He went to another doctor the next day (for workman’s comp leg injury) When he started coughing in her office, she said he should get that checked out. He told her about the ER visit. She said that was bull-she ran the tests (free) and he had bronchitis and a couple of other little things. Also his blood pressure was elevated during this time. He has always a low end of normal blood pressure readings. They always check it 2-3 times to verify that it is not a malfunction.

    Then 2 years ago he went to a walk in clinic doctor (awesome Dr.) Hubby thought he had a stomach bug. Dr. walks in-looks at him-says you have the flu. No he had a flu shot. Yes, he has the flu, we will run a test. Hubby had the flu. Then 1 year ago, hubby walks into the same clinic. I think I have the flu. Dr. walks in looks at him, looks at the chart, ‘it says here that you gained 15lbs since you were last in here. You don’t have the flu. You either have low testosterone or a thyroid problem-we will run tests.’ When we disagreed he said that all of the symptoms of the flu combined with the slight weight gain indicated something else. Sure enough -extremely- low testosterone.

    I wish you would make another site. A ‘first, do no harm’ for women. You know for every time a had a problem and it was diagnosed as a pelvic infection. 14 years ago, I had appendicitis and almost died because they said it was a pelvic infection. When I called to report the pain got worse, I was told it was a side effect of my medication. I almost died. They tried to send me home from the ER when I went back in a week later. Still were sticking by the pelvic infection. Luckily me being almost comatose, my hubby throwing a fit and almost getting kicked out, a nurse that flagged down a surgeon and said something was wrong, and a surgeon willing to touch my stomach, gave me emergency surgery. The surgeon said another couple of hours and I would have died. They also found out I was pregnant. A year later, after I delivered my daughter I suffered from severe depression. I went to the hospital suicidal. They wanted to do a pelvic exam-I left. Hubby told them that was not the end that had a problem.

    I was told I was too fat for a tubal after the birth of my daughter 9 years ago. The doctor was actually surprised I got pregnant at all. His wife had the same emergency appendectomy I did and with all of the scar tissue she couldn’t get pregnant. I was also bigger so I had more of it.

    I lost control of my legs 7 years ago. Fell down and couldn’t move them for a couple of minutes. It got worse. Went to the ER, was told I could have all of these problems including MS-scheduled me to see a neurologist. Was told it was all in my head to get a shrink. Got a shrink-he listened told me that I needed to see another doctor. Depression could cause physical problems, but not all of the problems I was having. I never did see another doctor after that.

    Took my daughter to the Dr. because she gained 40lbs in 2 months. Was told that she needed fluoride. ???? We literally could not talk about anything except how my daughter needed fluoride. Including where I could get it for free. I do take my kids to the doctor. Luckily I found them a good one, but I have not been to the doctor in 7 years. Despite all of the health problems I have; hair falling out, muscle weakness, shakiness, fatigue, pain all over, irritability, and lots others. After all it is only in my head, a pelvic infection, or being fat.

    Reply
  26. Trying to find a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesearean) friendly doctor and hospital is difficult enough. Trying to find one who is also plus-size friendly is damn near impossible. The only hospital in the city of Houston that will give you the option of choosing a VBAC without dozens of restrictions that make it impossible for you to find a doctor to accept the policies are the two public health hospitals, Ben Taub and LBJ. I chose Ben Taub, and of course they are all “it’s your choice and you have the right to VBAC” but as soon as they saw that BMI #, they immediately started trying to steer me towards a different outcome, filled with loads of extra testing, interventions, a deadline of 39 weeks to have my baby by, etc… I was actually told by the midwife & doctors at the clinic that my baby could die because I was obese, so because of that I would require TWO ultrasounds every week during my pregnancy, THIS in addition to the already weekly prenatal checkups where they checked me out and listened to the baby’s heart beat. This particular hospital bills my insurance company $809 for EACH ulstrasound, and gives me a co-pay of $192, for each one… When I asked the midwife, “What is the benefit of the ultrasounds each week, because that is a ton of money?” She sighed, and said, “It will prevent the stillbirth, they did a study about obesity and pregnancy and obesity causes stillbirth”. I questioned her again, “I don’t know understand, how if I am healthy, have great blood pressure and no complications, why my baby whose heart rate and movement has been fantastic all this time, would suddenly be stillborn just because I am fat? And how is an ultrasound going to PREVENT that?” She became obviously frustrated with my question, sighed again, and said, “You can look it up on the internet, they did a study about it. Look, you can refuse, but I have to put down on your record that you are non-compliant, and that way we cover ourselves if your baby dies.” This was so infuriating to me, just because I dared to ask a question, she began treating me like I didn’t care about the welfare of my unbron child. And this was the attitude of the majority of the people at the Ben Taub clinic, they labeled me “high risk” just because I was fat. The fact is, that I am pretty healthy, and yes my BMI is high, but I know plenty of women who weigh less than me, and have MORE body fat and wear bigger clothing. It just so happens that I have a higher BMI because I have more muscle. But you know, it all about that number to them. They took one look at that number and at every visit they referred to my “obesity” and how I was at risk for this and that so I had to have my baby early, etc.. I am now 36 weeks pregnant and the level of stress their care has caused me, is making me feel so negative about my pregnancy and I am terrified at times about my birth. I am so grateful to my supportive husband who has been my champion and helped me at every visit. It has been a real battle to maintain a pregnancy without unnecessary interventions. Every time I go in there they mention induction because my baby may be “too big” even though they admitted they see no signs of macromasia on his ultrasounds. On our last visit, the doctor changed the tune but with the same chorus, now it is, “You need to induce by 39 weeks so your baby doesn’t die” Even though we are both perfectly healthy! We of course said “No”. That same awful midwife, I overheard her telling one of the nurses outside, “She’ll wish she had cared about those tests when her baby dies”. Who needs this crap!? How awful and ugly do you need to be? I refused to see her anymore, and have since then switched to seeing ONLY the OB, at least he isn’t so hateful and malicious towards me. This has been the worst experience of care that I have ever had. And I should mention that I was weighed the same amount with my last child, and did not have this type of care, but because of the VBAC restrictions at my normal OB I have no choice but either choose a planned cesarean with nicer prenatal care or horrible prenatal care with at least an attempt at vaginal delivery. It is shameful that because I am plus sized I have choose between good care and an unnecessary surgery!

    Reply
  27. What I find interesting is this: I have elevated liver enzymes so because I am a little overweight they automatically say it’s a fatty liver when I had an ultrasound done a few months ago. But it also could be some other infiltrating condition such as cancer.

    Well, I was sent to see a gastro doctor who tells me it most likely is a fatty liver and I need to lose weight, He tells me my weight should be between 110 to 115 but he wants to see me get to 130(I weigh 150 and I’m 5′ 1″) I really don’t have a problem with that so I’ve been trying and have lost 4 pounds. He sent me for some blood work-15 tests and 7 vials of blood later my tests came back fine except for a slightly elevated ANA. So when I saw him earlier this week he says Autoimmune hepatitis can’t be ruled out so I need a liver biopsy to determine what is causing my rising enzymes.

    So now I have a liver biopsy scheduled in a week, It would be ironic if the infiltration of my liver is caused by autoimmune hepatitis and not just a fatty liver. Losing weight ain’t going to cure that and the meds they use to control it are known to cause weight gain.

    Reply

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