New treatment plan: ‘Scared’ weightless

Christine writes…

When I was 16, I caught a cold that developed into a nasty respiratory infection.  Our family GP was out of town, and his office referred me to another doctor who was covering his patients.  My mother took me.  The first thing the nurse did was weigh me and take my vitals.

As soon as the doctor came into the exam room he started berating me for being fat and having high blood pressure – nothing about the respiratory infection that had brought me to his office. I tried to tell him that I had never had high blood pressure before, but he wouldn’t listen.  He went on and on about my weight, my “high blood pressure” and how I was a heart attack or stroke waiting to happen.  “It can and does happen, even to people your age when they’re as big as you are.”  (I was about 190 at the time.)

My mother also told him my blood pressure had always been normal and perhaps – just perhaps – it was high at the moment because I was sick and feeling nervous about seeing a new doctor. (She has “white coat hypertension” herself, so it was a valid concern.)  He was just as rude and dismissive of her.  He told her she wasn’t helping me by “protecting me from the truth”, and that he was doing us a favor if it “scared some weight off” me because it would save my life. He was absolutely vile to both of us.

He then grudgingly wrote a prescription for antibiotics and cough syrup, and sent us off with a standard 1,000 calorie diet from a tear-off pad.  He even told us to make a follow-up appointment with his nurse and he’d get my “health under control.”  As if.

I left the office in tears.  My mother, normally a mild-mannered, non-confrontational sort of woman, was furious.  When we followed up a week later with our regular GP, he confirmed that my blood pressure was back to where it had always been – perfectly normal.  He said my temporary high blood pressure could have been caused by any number of things, including the OTC cold medicines I’d been taking to treat my symptoms.

So why did Dr. Scaremonger apparently never consider this possibility? Raised blood pressure is a well-known side effect of the most popular decongestant, which is why those with actual hypertension can’t take it.  You’d think this would occur to a doctor, right?  Apparently not when treating fat patients.  To him, I was in denial, a liar, and on death’s doorstep at 16, all because of the fat.

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  1. bookwyrm

     /  May 13, 2008

    Aww, honey.

    As a question, did your usual GP continue to refer patients to Dr. Asshat after that?

  2. Ugh. I was told by a doctor (while I was in college) that I WOULD be diabetic in ten years if I didn’t lose 100 pounds. I guess he thought he could scare weight off me too.

  3. Mercy

     /  May 14, 2008

    caffiene: I was told that, too (well, 90 lbs), at age 22. I still live with that fear. Two years to go…

  4. Christine

     /  May 14, 2008

    No, I’m pretty sure he didn’t. I remember my Mom telling him how badly we were treated and him apologizing for it. (Our GP – long since retired – was a kind, gentle man and doctor.)

  5. Novathecat

     /  May 14, 2008

    I had a doctor tell me as a teenager that due to my weight I would have a stroke by age 25 and then proceeded to do a bad impression of a stroke patient to scare me. I was around 170 lbs at the time. Here I am now, age 48, no stroke, heart attack, hypertension or diabetes and weighing 330. His crystal ball must have been broken that day.

  6. Joanie

     /  May 15, 2008

    I can remember my mom and older sister going to a “diet doctor” back in the 1970s. This doc was famous in our area for being a screamer and keeping patients losing weight by the fear factor. They would dread their appointments, and turn down food by saying “oh, what would Dr. Davis say.” It was abusive, and they actually paid him for it.

  7. sweetmachine

     /  May 21, 2008

    and then proceeded to do a bad impression of a stroke patient to scare me.

    WHAT THE FUCK. What a bedside manner!

  8. Bahia

     /  June 12, 2008

    That is seriously horrible. Especially as a 1000 calorie a day diet, even for women trying to lose weight, is generally considered dangerous!

  1. Such a Pretty Weight-Loss Memoir »

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