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.