Appendicitis? Try Weight Watchers!

Christina writes…

I’d like to start by saying I work with doctors. I’m pretty lucky…my PCP and Gastro know me as a person first before a patient, and I think that helps them see more than my 290 lbs.

However, that doesn’t mean all my experiences have been good. I went into the ER with possible appendicitis. I hurt. I have a damn good pain tolerance, but this was bordering on the “shoot me now” level of pain. I usually will “tough it out” before I go to the ER, but this was bad. They did all the tests, CAT scan, blood work, etc. My blood pressure was high. Of course it was high, I was in pain! As I’m lying there on the gurney, still trying not to move so it wouldn’t hurt too much, the ARNP comes in. I was expecting her to give me my test results, but no. She proceeded to tell me that she had food problems too, and that I should go to Weight Watchers and I would feel better. If I hadn’t been in pain, I’d be in jail for decking a nurse. I called the hospital the next day and complained and informed them that her comments were inappropriate and that I didn’t appreciate her berating me in front of my husband and other patients. From what I understand, her mood has changed considerably.

I’m not ashamed of my weight. You have to love yourself before you can make any change in your life. I once told a surgeon that if the only diagnosis he could come up with was “fat”, then he really needed to go to medical school and retake a few things.

I did have a good experience though. I had gastritis, a recurring condition for me since I was three. They were going to send me home, but my BP was 200/150, a reaction to the pain of the quarter sized lesions in my stomach. They hadn’t found the gastritis in the ER yet, but I was having radiating chest pain and that was kinda suspicious, even with a negative EKG and cardiac enzymes. Finally the doc walks in. He looks at me, looks at my chart, and my previous tests done at that hospital. I explain my blood pressure issues (another family genetic gift) and he smiles and says “Okay, so you’re fat. So am I. Weight has nothing to do with what’s going on with you.” He treated me like a person first and I always appreciated that.

Dr M rocks. When my husband was in the ER, I specifically requested him since he’s fat friendly and treats the person, not the fat.

All I can tell people is complain, complain, complain. If you get the chance to do a Press-Ganey survey about the hospital, fill it out. Be as honest and blunt as you can. They listen to those Press-Ganey scores. Write lots of letters to the Medical Board, and the facility the doctor or nurse works for.

On the other hand, do the same thing for docs and nurses that are fat friendly and treat us like people. Compliment, compliment, compliment. Staff love to hear them and it reinforces the good attitudes.

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  1. I once told a surgeon that if the only diagnosis he could come up with was “fat”, then he really needed to go to medical school and retake a few things.

    Diagnosis: Fat. HA!! It’s like diagnosing someone as too tall, or too black. In fact, the whole move to eradicate obesity smacks of the eugenics movement.

    Your suggestions to complain are on-target. I would also add that most health insurance companies allow you to rate doctors and facilities. It’s not made public to the state medical board, but at least others also using your health insurance plan will be able to look these doctors/facilities up, see your experiences, and possibly go elsewhere.

  2. I had a similar experience shortly after my first pregnancy, during which my knees had begun to hurt when I was sitting for long periods of time.

    The doctor wrote “obese” on my chart, and told me my knees would stop hurting if I lost weight. Despite the fact that they never ached when I was standing, and started during pregnancy, and not from gaining weight.

    I don’t go to him anymore, despite not being able to find a new doctor. I’d rather be untreated than told it’s all my fault.

  3. Jules

     /  November 15, 2007

    Thordora, I actually had symptoms similar to yours (without the pregnancy), and a diagnosis well… Identical to yours, and a reaction that mirrored yours as well. I did lose a bit of weight (15 pounds) and it actually helped out! I have no idea why since for me standing was good too, but it did help relieve my pain some.

  4. sweetmachine

     /  November 16, 2007

    I’d rather be untreated than told it’s all my fault.

    And that in a nutshell is the true “obesity epidemic.”

  5. Jill

     /  November 29, 2007

    Thordora, I had knee pain that started after an ankle injury and worsened for years, to the point that when I was 33 or so I realised that if the trend continued I would be crippled by the time I was 40. I had seen an orthopedic surgeon and worked with physical therapists and done knee-conscious yoga for years. I was told by my then-boyfriend’s father during this time: “Well, of course you have knee pain — if you don’t mind me saying so, you’re heavy.” But it’s an odd thing when effect precedes cause; I hadn’t been fat until my knees started hurting when I moved, forcing me to give up karate, running, ultimate frisbee, and eventually even swimming.

    It just got worse and worse until I found out that I am gluten-intolerant (and likely had celiac disease) and stopped eating wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Suddenly I could go up stairs more easily. It got better month by month to the point that I was able to start doing exercises to rebuild the muscles, and since then it has improved to the point that I almost never have knee aches (and when I do, it’s usually because I accidentally ate something with gluten).

    Oh, and I’m still fat, but now I’m fat and active! Funny thing how it can cause pain when your immune system is reacting to something you’re eating and attacking your joints…

    (incidentally, severe digestive problems, and emotional problems also cleared up when I stopped eating gluten, and my hayfever and dog/cat allergies didn’t go away but became less crippling — for those of us who can’t tolerate gluten, not eating it is an incredible blessing)

  6. Jackie

     /  February 1, 2008

    It’s so absurd, it would be funny if it wasn’t true.


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