Vomiting all the time? You’re depressed.

Rose writes:

The worst experience I’ve had with doctor was when I suddenly became very sick at the age of 29 and I couldn’t hold down food. I was vomiting an average of 7 – 10 times a day, at some point I was living off nothing but Ensure puddings. Sometimes I would look at a person eating a sandwich and cry because I wanted to be able to eat a sandwich again.

The doctors flat out didn’t believe me. The gastroenterologist diagnosed my condition as “functional” (meaning mental) and put me on anti-depressants. The Paxil I was given caused vertigo and vomiting – try to think of what this does to a person who can hold almost no food in her stomach. After blacking out and landing face-first on the floor (at home – thank goodness) I swore I’d never take them again. The GP who had referred me to him gave me a stern lecture on how I could never get help from doctors if I wouldn’t take the pills they were giving me. When I began to cry to her that I couldn’t take pills that would make me black out and faint because I’d be putting my life at risk, she got particularly furious and yelled “Shut up and stop acting like a little baby. If you want to cry, do it on your time and stop wasting mine!”*

When the illness began I’d put my weight at about. 145 – 150 lbs and I’m 5′1, so I was “overweight.” My metabolism slowed dramatically during the illness (to keep me from starving to death – thank you metabolism!) I truly believe this was a big part of why they wouldn’t take me seriously, because they saw me as too fat to be in a state of starvation. When the GP took my weight at 142, I commented that I was losing; she rolled her eyes contemptuously at me and said “You HARDLY look like you’re wasting away!” The last time I saw her, now simply resigned to never getting better I noted I felt dizzy and weak, but I was trying to just get used to it. She looked puzzled and said “I wonder why you’d be weak.” I never went back after that. With that one comment, she made clear to me that what I was experiencing would never be taken seriously by her. If she had believed me in any way, shape or form, she wouldn’t have wondered why a person who hadn’t eaten solid food in almost 6 months was weak.

It was a wonderful, compassionate chiropractor who finally diagnosed me with a hiatal hernia and started adjusting my stomach so it could line up in such a way that food could pass through it. I still see him about once a month 8 years later. For the first 6 months, I needed to see him twice a week and he wasn’t covered by insurance. It was well worth it, he gave me my life back.

I can only imagine if this is what I was put through, without even being “officially obese” what very big people are put through. And I’ve seen some of it through my husband, who has a 46 BMI, but I know it’s even worse for women. I’m so glad this travesty is finally getting the attention it deserves. Thank you for this site, it’s doing a wonderful and very necessary service.

Leave a comment


  1. Meta

     /  June 11, 2009

    I’m so glad you’ve found a new doctor. Sad about it not being covered, but if you can finally live then I suppose it’s fine… and anything sounds better than those last morons.

    I’d be tempted to attempt a suit of some form against the other practice though… there’s gotta be something in that “I’m just going to assume my patient is insane and not do my job” mentality that can make a case.

    Or else that’s just wishful thinking.

    Well grats again and luck with future doctor visits!

  2. QuiltLuvr

     /  June 11, 2009

    Vesta44, I’m so glad you are doing okay now. Your experience is exactly the reason we need a site like this one. It must have been just awful.

    I would like to encourage you to write to the dumb-dodo doctor – make it a polite, informative letter. She may totally ignore it but if she actually reads and pays attention to the letter, then it will be better for the next fat person who walks through her door. It’s worth a try, anyway.

  3. vesta44

     /  June 11, 2009

    QuiltLuvr – It wasn’t my experience, it was Rose who had the problem with the doctor and hernia (not that I haven’t had my own problems with fat-phobic doctors, but I post about that on my own blog). I’m hoping that Rose did write to the doctor to fill her in on her cluelessness.

  4. Catgal

     /  June 11, 2009

    This is an awful story. I am so sorry that you had to go through this…

  5. lilacsigil

     /  June 11, 2009

    This is a horrible story – so many doctors don’t bother to treat their patients like human beings, as if your weight overrides all other concerns. I’m glad you kept looking and eventually got help.

  6. This is absolutely horrible. Not only were you already going through a horrible experience that had to be wearing on your nerves to begin with, then you were shouted at for being emotional about it! It’s absolutely appalling. You weren’t being a baby, you were frustrated, frightened and not feeling well at all and those who were supposed to help you weren’t helping at all.

    Not to mention that I think it’s appalling that some doctors assume patients are wasting their time. Uh, hello, people coming to you with health problems are keeping you employed! If you don’t like your job that’s your fault, not the patient’s.

  7. Sarah

     /  June 14, 2009

    How lousy. But I’ve learned through reading all these stories that chiropractors seem to be MUCH nicer to fat patients than your normal MD. I experienced this myself.

    I was examined by a chiropractor at a trade show, and he determined that I had a bad thyroid. I told him I wasn’t surprised, because I was fat and had been through years of fluctuating between failed diets and overeating. He simply said it doesn’t matter how much I exercise or diet (you know, it’s as simple as that), because my thyroid has to be checked out because it is dysfunctional.


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