After the birth of my second child, my OB (who was wonderful) sent me to a family physician because I had developed severe pre-eclampsia at the end of my pregnancy and turned out to be one of those women whose blood pressure, which had been 110/60 until the last part of my pregnancy, never returns to normal.
When the new family physician walked in, he stopped me in the middle of filling out my medical history and told me I could finish it later. The first thing he said was, “Your second pregnancy must have been unplanned. I can give you birth control.” I corrected him — no, my children were only eighteen months apart, but they were both planned. And no, I wasn’t there for birth control pills. He then took my blood pressure, said it was up a bit, and then told me without even the slightest bit of kindness that I was going to be out somewhere and just “stroke out.” You know, because thin women with chronic high blood pressure after pre-eclampsia are just unlucky, but fat women with chronic high blood pressure after pre-eclampsia have only themselves to blame.
I was already reeling from having gone so quickly from being a “healthy” person to an “unhealthy” one with the pregnancy complications, so his remarks really upset me. I reminded him about the pre-eclampsia, but he didn’t respond. Instead, he looked at his notes and said with skepticism, “And you didn’t have gestational diabetes?” I said no. “And you’ve never had problems with your blood sugar?” He said it with a tone that told me if I said no, he would just assume I was lying.
He asked me how much I was exercising. I told him that I had been doing very little lately because I had had a c-section only six weeks before, but that I had found the time and energy to dance to Wiggles videos with my toddler. He sighed with disgust.
Had the man read my medical history, he would have learned that I was only six weeks postpartum after a complicated c-section in which a fibroid tumor had to be removed before the incision could be closed. I had
been hospitalized for ten days because of my blood pressure. I had later developed an infection and a fever. At the time of my appointment, I was only just starting to feel human again. But since I’m fat, I should have been working out daily by that time.
Then he said, “Your BMI is 39, and that puts you right below the morbidly obese category. So I’m going to start you on a 1500 calorie diet.”
Again, had the man read the medical history his staff asked me to fill out, he would have learned that I have a history of eating disorders and am not willing to diet.
I told him through tears that I had yo-yo dieted my way to the weight I was then, that I had dieted since I was eight years old and that clearly, if calorie counting were going to work for me, it already would have.
“You seem very upset about this. I can see that you have some hypersensitivity issues. You cry very easily. Sometimes emotions get in the way of making good decisions. I’d like to put you on an anti-depressant to help you with that.”
Yes. That’s right. If a patient cries out of frustration and humiliation because the doctor is being insensitive and ignorant and tells her very unkindly that she is going to die and it’s her own fault, then clearly the patient has an emotional disorder and needs medication.
That was two and a half years ago. I never went back to that doctor. The sad part is that now I am terrified to go to any doctor. Oh, I do go, and I have found a kind doctor, but even now I am afraid, especially if she sends me to a specialist or someone new because it seems I am invisible to most doctors.
They see only my fat.