Eating ‘yer veggies will cure congenital spinal curvature

Catherine writes…

There is congenital spinal curvature in my family.  Every female member, no matter what her weight, has it.  This includes me.  Mine is “three-way,” meaning that I have an abnormal twist from side-to-side (scoliosis), an abnormal twist from front-to-back (lordosis), and a rotational twist (kyphosis).  This means my back muscles are constantly working much harder than they should.  It naturally follows that I can throw my back out easier than most people, and I’ve had bouts with pain so debilitating I could barely walk.

A few years ago I went to a doctor complaining that the back trouble was worse than usual.  The doctor did not even look at my back but rather told me that the cause was that my extra weight was pulling the spine out of place. He suggested that if I just “ate right” I’d lose the weight and all my problems would go away.  He didn’t even suggest any exercises to help the muscles even after I mentioned that it’d been some time since I’d been in physical therapy.  He only suggested over-the-counter naproxen.

Three weeks later, I was in so much pain that I could not even stand up straight.  At the age of twenty-eight I was walking with a cane and I could not even dress myself.

I went to another doctor who took one look and immediately prescribed strong muscle relaxants, prescription pain relievers.  I was walking normally in three days; once the immediate problem settled he was happy to give me information about strengthening exercises.  It was then and only then he brought up my weight — and it came by way of asking if he could take some blood in order to check my thyroid function.

I stayed with that doctor for years.

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  1. KarenElhyam

     /  June 11, 2008

    Thank goodness you found a doctor to help you eventually. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be so desperate for help, and to be told that, essentially, it was your own failings that brought about the pain. (Because of course, I’m sure that doctor was just clucking to himself about how poor fatties just do it to themselves with all the twinkies and sloth)

    The fact that he didn’t even realize that exercise might be damn near impossible for someone in so much pain is what kills me. Hypocratic oath my fat ass.

  2. nuckingfutz

     /  June 11, 2008

    Absolutely appalling.

    I’m glad you found yourself a GOOD doctor, though. They seem hard to come by these days, as you yourself have shown.

  3. Keri

     /  June 16, 2008

    This definitely happens more often than anyone thinks.

    A few years ago, when I was in college, I went to student health with a host of odd symptoms – fatigue, nausea, a strange rash on my legs. Instead of doing any tests, the nurse on duty suggested that the rash was due to my weight! Sure, I’m overweight, but I’m a size 16/18 – not exactly the size to have major circulation issues due to being drastically overweight. The woman just didn’t want to see past her discrimination and actually try to help me.

    As it turned out, I had mono – one of the most common things people get on college campuses, and something that has a rash as a symptom a decent percent of the time. The nurse should have been able to figure it out easily, if she’d tried for even a second and taken blood for tests. Luckily, it wasn’t anything serious – there’s not much to do for mono but rest anyway – but I will definitely keep this in mind if I believe I have a serious health issue and am written off by doctors in the future.


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