I have so many stories, years and years of being treated as just “fat” instead of a person with real, physical problems.
My first time with the prejudice doctors have against overweight people was when I was 16. I’d had amenorrhea for a year at that point. My grandmother (who I was living with) took me to the doctor, who, after doing a pregnancy test and a cursory pelvic exam, told my grandmother that I was just fat, and that if I lost weight, I’d get my menses back. Oh, I weighed 165lbs on a 5’2″ body. I was in a size 16, which yes, is overweight, but not what is usually considered normal to interfere with menses.
That started my hate of doctors and my utter loathing of my body.
I did everything I could to lose weight, but only succeeded in making my metabolism worse. I “dieted” my weight up to (eventually, and over 20 years) 270 lbs. Throughout this whole time, I kept going to doctors, complaining of amenorrhea, complaining that no matter how much I exercised I couldn’t lose weight, complaining of not being able to get pregnant and really really wanting to. The doctors called me a liar. I had one doctor come straight out and tell me that I couldn’t be exersizing as much as I claimed to be (at that time, walking 4-5 miles every day), as I’d not be as fat as I was. Usually, it was the female doctors who were the most cruel. I had one gynecologist tell me that I could not want to get pregnant as much as I said I did, because if I did, I’d lose all the extra weight and I’d be able to get pregnant. No doctor ever gave me any references to fertility clinics, no doctor ever did anything to actually find what the root cause of my problems were.
Finally, in 1997, I was diagnosed with PCOS. The (female) gynecologist told me that I had PCOS and then told me to go look it up. WTF?
It’s only been in the last year I’ve found a doctor that looks at me as a person, not as fat. I’ve gotten on metformin (a med for people with non-insulin dependant diabetes, but also for people who have insulin resistance, which is implicated in PCOS), and I’ve lost 70 lbs in a year. For the past 6 months, I’ve been in a holding pattern, though, and I’m okay with it. I’m just glad the doctor actually listened to me.
While I’ve found a gynecologist who listens to me, I’m still looking for a primary care physician. See the one that I currently “have” (but won’t go back to), insists on putting me on anti-depressants — because I’m fat. Nevermind that I’m seeing a clinical psychologist who doesn’t believe I need pills right now. Oh, and looked at my weight and decided to give me a sleep study to see if I had sleep apnea and needed a C-PAP machine to sleep at night. Because, you know, fat people all have sleep apnea.
Recently, my left knee (which I injured 7 years ago but couldn’t get treated because of no health insurance and no money at the time) has decided to go out in a major way. I’m in intense pain anytime I do anything more strenuous than sitting. (This has caused a major problem for me, as the job I had — and lost due to this — involved me walking between one to three miles a day.) I went to a minor emergency clinic, where the doctor treated me like a human, and he ordered me to get an MRI. The MRI showed quite a few things wrong with me, three of which are only treated by surgery (one of those problems is multiple free floating bone shards, at least one of which is 7mm long). The doctor told me to get to a surgeon immediately to get this taken care of, that I’d get surgery because this problem had been continuing for 7 years. In his professional opinion, cortisone shots and physical therapy wouldn’t help. Especially not for the shards.
I went to a surgeon, to be told that my knees (plural) were shot, and that the only way my knees would get better was for me to lose weight. I explained that I had lost 70 lbs in the last year and a half, and he said that’s great, but I need to lose at least 60 lbs more before my knees would feel better. He gave me a shot of cortisone, and said he was referring me for physical therapy. I was stunned! This was completely against what the first doctor had said what I needed (although the first doctor wasn’t a surgeon). Before I left the examination room, I did ask the surgeon about the bone shards. He said, “Yes, surgery would help with those, but we are NOT doing surgery for you.” What? Am I so fat I have to be punished by being in excruciating pain every time I try to waddle my fat ass to the bathroom from my chair (because right now, I can’t do my normal activities, which included walking, yoga, and the aeroglider/exercise bike thing).
I’m going to see a new surgeon tomorrow (Monday). I grilled the scheduler about if this doctor would treat me as a human with a real problem, or as just a fat person, because I’m not opening myself up for that again. I was assured the new surgeon won’t treat me as if I don’t matter because I’m fat.