Maybe you should stop eating so much water and air

Lynne writes…

A few years ago I went to see my primary care physician because I was having some issues vomiting.  By which I mean that I was vomiting, several times a day.  This would happen usually after eating (immediately afterward) though often at other times.  I experienced no nausea, just a need to vomit.  A lot.  It happened when I ate, drank water, coughed, cried, had a stuffy nose, even once when I smelled a foul smell.  Sudden onset vomit.  It was gross, and it was affecting my life in a big way.  People assumed I had an eating disorder, only I didn’t lose much weight.

I was having a routine physical with my PCP and mentioned what had been happening.  Note: I am 5’6″, 250lbs.  I had met with this doctor on only one occasion before (also a disaster, but non-weight related).  I described my symptoms and without asking any questions or running any tests, she casually said, “Well, maybe you should stop eating such big meals.”  I was a little shocked, but reminded her that the vomiting was frequently non-food related, and therefore could not be caused just by eating big meals, and besides, I wasn’t eating “big meals”.  She responded with “I really think you should just stop eating such big meals” and sent me home.

Later, another doctor who asked a few questions diagnosed me with severe GERD, a form of acid reflux, and we were able to treat it completely.  And I didn’t have to change the size of my meals.

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  1. That is crazy. I have never had to experience anything like that…but I am “recently fat” (I never lost the weight I gained with my first pregnancy) so I haven’t really been to the doctors much for anything.

    Thank goodness you are being treated! Egads, make sure not to go to that other doctor again…EVER.

  2. That is unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE.
    And, fillyjonk, does credit for the title of this entry go to you? Because it’s perfect.

  3. fillyjonk

     /  January 29, 2008

    Hee, yeah, I did title it. It’s a doozy of a story, huh?

  4. The saddest part of this is, juliafaye, that this IS believable.

  5. I really find that I do a lot better with the Low Fat Air than with the Fat Free Air. The Fat free Air is just SO unsatisfying so I end up consuming more calories of air in the end. Low Fat Air is really where it’s at.

  6. It’s a sad truth that many normal-sized or thin people will not believe a fat person when they say they eat normal-sized, healthy, portion-controlled meals. Because if they DID, they wouldn’t be fat, right?

  7. littlem

     /  January 29, 2008

    *sigh* I’m sure what I’m about to say is going to lead at least some to see me as the b***h here.

    But I just read something on thoughracer’s blog that I think is really relevant to this:

    “People who yammer on and on and on about diets and the unhealthiness of fat: They are just noise in the background, obsessive nobodies who are taking up oxygen. What I have to keep reminding myself of, however, is that those obsessive nobodies shape public policy and funnel national health care dollars into programs that detrimentally effect [sic] me. And that’s should be enough of a something to force this ostrich to pull her head out of its hole.”

    I guess I’m sort of thinking that if this sort of behavior by the first doctor is documented, and reported to relevant authorities and media outlets, since it’s completely unacceptable, that that’s something — over time, of course — that would gradually lead that practitioner to stop? And for other practitioners to understand that it’s not OK to behave that way? So that eventually patients won’t have to deal with that sort of crap (which IMO teeters on the edge of malpractice)?

    (And I’m not saying that the person who’s telling us the story didn’t report the 1st doctor’s behavior. We don’t know if she did or didn’t. I think all I’m saying is that sometimes all bullies understand is power, not gentility.)

  8. littlem

     /  January 29, 2008

    And one more thing from Thorn’s post,

    a) to show that I’m really sincere about this; and
    b) because she puts it so much more succinctly than I just did:

    “As long as fat prejudice remains hidden, it flourishes.”

  9. My tonsils were so swollen that they touched from the time I was 3 until the time I was 20 and had them removed due to the shock and horror of the new PCP I had. I was constantly sick and had problems swallowing, breathing, and talking because of these huge masses in my throat.

    My PCP for most of my childhood loftily informed my mother and me that my swollen, infected tonsils were due to my weight, and if I simply lost weight they’d shrink down as well.

    Who knew that tonsils, like boobs, were nothing more than sacks of fat? And that a slimming diet would cure chronic tonsilitis?

    Fortunately, I eventually got treated and no longer get bronchitis two to three times a year. It pretty much rocks, being able to breathe and swallow things without gagging and choking.

    I’m glad your GERD is under control. That’s really dangerous to leave untreated.

  10. fillyjonk

     /  January 30, 2008

    littlem, that’s part of the idea of this blog. If you think that this is just the way that medicine operates, as many people do, then you’re not going to report anything. (Imagine, as an analogy, bringing a workplace sexual harassment suit in the 1950s.) We’re hoping both to bring the fact of fat prejudice in medicine into the open, and to provide people with the confidence and tools to act when their doctors behave unacceptably. By sending her story to us, even if Lynne didn’t report her doctor, she’s contributing to the first goal.

  11. littlem

     /  February 1, 2008

    FJ, I know that’s why the blog is here; I’ve been reading it for some time.

    All I’m saying is that if I’ve hired a professional to help me, in any capacity, my expectation is that I’m going to be treated well. If that “professional” says or does something dehumanizing, I’m not going to just sit there and take it, blog or no blog. And I believed that way before the blog ever came into existence.

    I realize that everyone needs support, sometimes tools, sometimes a reality check of the “is this really happening” variety. But the blog can’t go with you to take on the doctor, and if you don’t believe that you don’t deserve to be treated well in the first place, the blog isn’t going to help you.

    Sometimes I think women are really socialized to be masochistic. (And I realize that one can be punished by ostracism and isolation if you don’t toe that line; I’ve seen that in this community; I’ve seen it in many communities.) But I also believe that you — universal “you” — teach people how to treat you from the time that you FIRST interact with them. I also don’t see how anything ever changes if you just continue to label phenomenae as “sad” instead of actively (and it doesn’t have to be overt; “active” and “in your face” aren’t requisitely synonymous) DOING something about them.

    I also realize that you’re one of the Queens of the “Fatosphere”, and I’m just a commenter, sometime guest poster and behind the scene tipper. I’ll hunker down now and get back in my “place” so you won’t feel the need to put me in it. 🙄

  12. I always cringe when someone starts a comment with “I just know I’m going to be seen as a b*tch here, but..” because I know whatever follows is going to be tactless, thoughtless, or both, and the disclaimer indicates the poster knows it and simply doesn’t care.

    Your main point seems to be that this blog isn’t “enough,” in addition to not-so-subtly criticizing Lynne for not standing up to her shockingly rude doctor. I’m an alpha wolf type, too, and I’d like to think I’d have been able to argue with the doctor in that situation. But I know (and love) an awful lot of people who would have reacted the same way Lynne did – too shocked to fight back, and either too mortified to make a fuss, or else accepting it as part of the crappiness of life and moving on. In my experience, many people are upset or angered by a lot of things. Very few of them make any serious attempt to report any of them.

    Perhaps if your main concern is pushing this movement more into the “activism” realm (rather than “support group”), you could e-mail FJ or another mod with some supportive, constructive ideas or brainstorm on your own about what you could do to get this moving – set up a website that makes it easy for people to find the relevant information on *who* to report their doctor to, for example, or how to go about it. I think that would be a much more productive use of your time than posting comments like this, which don’t actually accomplish much of anything except probably to make Lynne feel bad.

    Just a thought.

  13. fillyjonk

     /  February 1, 2008

    Damn, littlem, where the fuck did that last part come from?

    I think you’re absolutely right about almost all of what you’re saying. And indeed, we have the tab on “how to file a complaint” because we hope people will file complaints. If you’d like to contribute to that, or if you’ve got any other ideas for what we should add to the blog, let us know. But I also want to protect people who post their stories here from feeling like they’re being judged for experiencing discrimination and not being sufficiently proactive about it. Nobody has to live up to a standard of activism in order to make their stories count.

  14. littlem

     /  February 2, 2008

    “*sigh* I’m sure what I’m about to say is going to lead at least some to see me as the b***h here.”

    Well, clearly I wasn’t wrong, Dark. Thank YOU so much for seeing me as the bitch here. Cringe away.

    I proceeded to quote OTHER PEOPLE (thoughtreader, etc.) who have expressed the SAME SENTIMENT as I did, so that people wouldn’t see me as just sitting in judgment on others.

    Clearly that didn’t work real well.

    I’ve remarked in SEVERAL OTHER COMMENTS where people can file complaints.

    What you’re telling me is that it doesn’t really matter what I say if I’m not chiming in with the majority, because no one is reading it anyway.

    The searing irony today is that people are clapping and cheering M. Le Blanc for standing up to bullies in a way that seems to me QUITE SIMILAR to what I attempted to advocate — but she’s not getting shat on.

    Whatever. Congratulations. If the first part of your post was intended to silence people that don’t passively groupthink, you’ve done what you set out to do. Barring a direct (or another condescending) attack, I won’t say anymore. ‘Kay? Congratulations. You win.

  15. Littlem, I don’t think you actually read what I (or FJ) had to say. You’ve just slapped a label on yourself and decided everyone is going to act like you’re the bad guy and ignore your opinion no matter what, when in fact both of us have replied directly to your suggestions, as well as made some of our own.

    Twice now you’ve said that other people are making you shut up, but in fact no one is. You’re more than free to share your thoughts. However, my point was that criticisms of this blog should be directed towards the women who run this blog and in private, not at the very brave individuals who share their stories and do not deserve your negativity. You seem not to be considering that Lynne is more than likely reading these comments right now, or how your words will affect her. And it’s that effect which is critical and negative rather than contributory and constructive, and it’s that which FJ and I are trying to speak up against.

    Standing up to a bully deserves cheer. Advocating standing up to bullies deserves cheer. However, belittling or criticizing people who do not stand up to bullies does not deserve cheer. I hope you can see the very clear distinction there.

  16. fillyjonk

     /  February 2, 2008

    *sigh* Yes, littlem, you got me. We’re singling you out for drastic abuse like “I agree with you, but don’t want people to feel that their stories have to satisfy our ideals of activism before they can contribute to this project, which is in itself activist in a different way.”

    I think you’re being disingenuous when comparing this to m. leblanc’s post, because you’re too smart for that. But just in case: m. leblanc wrote about her experiences standing up to discrimination, and said that it was something she recommended doing. You came onto a thread about someone else’s experience suffering discrimination, and said that she hadn’t done enough.

    Your points about telling people how to treat us are totally spot on, but making an example of someone else in order to make those points is not. (Well, even if it’s okay in the abstract, I want to protect FDNH commenters and readers from bearing the brunt.) Plenty of commenters here (AS YOU KNOW SINCE YOU’VE BEEN READING — I guess I have to say that, or I’m condescending) say things like “I hope you reported that guy.” We have, AS YOU KNOW, a tab with information about reporting doctors. But that’s not the same as saying, in a thread about someone else’s discrimination experience, “you know, if people reported stuff like this it wouldn’t happen.” Think about how you’d feel reading that if you were Lynne.

  17. jaed

     /  February 7, 2008

    One more thing:

    if this sort of behavior by the first doctor is documented, and reported to relevant authorities and media outlets, since it’s completely unacceptable

    It’s not “completely unacceptable”. It’s not unacceptable at all. That’s part of the point. Do you honestly think most oversight boards, most medical supervisors, most media outlets, or for that matter most people would see anything wrong with a fat woman being told her health problems are the result of overeating and she should eat less?

    The doctor is simply doing what doctors are taught to do: counseling the patient about our poor lifestyle choices, shown beyond any doubt by the size of our bodies, since we all know that obesity and overweight always and inevitably result from overeating and not exercising. The doctor is only Concerned for our Health, that’s all, and that’s exactly what most of those people will tell us.


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