The background: I am 5’6″ and 245 pounds. I have been this size (or close to it) for years, losing weight after giving birth to my two kids, but gaining it back fairly quickly each time. Having had gestational diabetes and joint pain, I was concerned about my health, and began working out and eating healthier to get in better shape. This was interrupted by a serious hip problem; my right hip would pop out of place, causing excruciating pain and incapacitating me for days at a time. My doctor prescribed massive amounts of ibuprofen and physical therapy, which worked for a while, but then the problem returned (worse than ever) and I got an ulcer from the ibuprofen, so I couldn’t take any kind of pain medication.
Enter the hip specialist; Dr. Jerkhead (not his real name, but it should be). I limped into his office, MRI report and pictures in hand, and waited patiently. Dr. Jerkhead listened to my description of my hip problems, said, “There’s no way it’s popping out of joint, or you’d be in the emergency room all the time.” Then, he looked at the report (not the pictures) and said that there weren’t any issues (although the report clearly said that there was evidence of arthritis and potential bursitis) and that I just had to lose 100 pounds and I’d be fine. When I said that I couldn’t exercise due to the pain, he told me to just go on a strict diet, and I’d see results. He pulled out a prescription pad, wrote, “potatoes, rice, sugar, pop… No!” then handed it to me, and walked out. The whole “consultation” took less than ten minutes, and did not involve any sort of physical examination (other than his judgment of me as an ignorant fat woman). I walked out feeling attacked and worthless, then I got angry.
Happy ending: I found a fat friendly doctor on a website from my sister in law, and made an appointment. Dr. K did a thorough exam, looked at every MRI picture as well as the report, listened to my story, and never once commented on my weight. He gave me a shot of cortisone to treat the bursitis, and I was pain free in less than a minute. I was in the office for over an hour, but I left feeling better than I had in at least five years. I am still mad at Dr. Jerkhead, but consider myself lucky to have found Dr. K.
I feel terrible knowing that so many of us are treated badly because we aren’t the “right” weight, and that so many people avoid doctors because they have had bad experiences. I know that my story is not unique, and that many people have had far more damaging experiences, but the one thing we can all do is refuse to accept the notion that fat is the problem when we know there is something wrong. We all need to look for doctors who treat us as patients, not as fat patients. Good luck to everyone in this quest, and may we all find good health and self-acceptance along the way!