Years of abuse from doctors delay MS diagnosis

HappyWriter writes:

I think if I began to tell all of the stories I had about being discriminated against as a child, and now adult – I could write a small novella. I never talk about it, I dont often write about it, I just block it out. As a child, I had a doctor who I still hold a special place of mild contempt for. I still clearly remember her telling my mother that if I did not lose weight, my tonsils would explode, My mother (out of fear and embarrassment I think) would often agree with the doctors who were making me feel like trash. I realized at an early age that doctors didnt help all the time.
When I was about 13 years old, I was struggling with a very bad bout of tonsillitis as per usual. I already had a fear of going to the doctor because of what I’d grown up hearing, but when the Dr walked in and she was slim and tall, I thought “oh no” (how easy it is to do what is done to us). I calmed myself by thinking – It’s tonsillitis, I have it every year, she’ll just need to give me a prescription for antibiotics.
How wrong I was.
She told me to take off all of my clothes except for my bra and panties and then proceeded to humiliate me for 15 minutes about how fat I was. She just couldnt get over my fatness. The fact that I was actually ill faded away. I was fat, and that is all I was. It was one of the most damaging experiences Ive ever had in my life.
When I was 15, I had a doctor take my blood pressure twice and declare – puzzled “it’s normal?”
After that, I stopped going to doctors all together. I didn’t have the courage. In the next 9 years I went to the doctor once.
So when I got headache when I was 24, going to the doctor was the last thing on my mind. When it had not gone away three weeks later, I still did not go to the doctor. When my body started shutting down, I finally went. When I told them that I had a headache for three weeks, they wondered why I didn’t go to the Dr, but they had not lived the life with Drs I had.
I didn’t know it then, but it was the beginning of a long, tedious road with doctors. For about 3 years, I had to fight to get anyone to even take me seriously. At one point I wrote in a journal – Doctors must be so happy when I walk into a room, they know at that point they won’t have to do any work at all – just rely on the old standby. It feels as if I go in with a pinky ache, all they would tell me to do is lose weight.” through all of the nightmares, I had one doctor who treated me like a person – like a real person, and I couldn’t believe it. She did not ignore my weight, but she didn’t make me feel like I was nothing but my weight. She was an angel disguised as a Dr.
When I started having difficulty breathing, she feared that it was an auto immune condition I was diagnosed with – deteriorating, and sent me to a Pulmonologist, who on sight – on sight said to me “if none of your other doctors have told you, I will tell you – you need to loose weight”. She was sure I had sleep apnea, and a whole other set of problems although she hadn’t seen a chart or any other testing results. She wasn’t even really interested in running tests because she was sure that the only reason I could not breathe was because I was fat. Three years later, still struggling with my breathing despite having lost 110lbs (but still fat) she thought perhaps it really could be my auto immune system causing the trouble. Last year, I was scheduled for a heart catheterization. When I went in, I overheard one of the nurses- whom Id never seen before a day in my life, say “Yeah, she’s supposed to be on a special diet (not true), but you can obviously see that’s not happening, she’s as big as a house”. What made this statement especially hurtful was the fact that I was in fact smaller than I’d ever been in my adult life. Ive had so much blamed on my weight, sometimes, I just prayed to get a doctor who would listen to me and see me as a person before they see the weight. I was finally diagnosed with MS, but I have to wonder – if it could’ve been caught earlier if I had a Dr who listened and taken me seriously. If I hadn’t started losing weight, If I gave up like I did when I was 15 – where in the world would I be right now?
I know that society has a way, but I can honestly say that doctors were/are among my most harsh mental abusers. The sad thing is that they have a license to be.

Leave a comment


  1. QuiltLuvr

     /  November 5, 2009

    All these doctors are jackasses, plain and simple. The one who made you take off your clothes, though, is in another realm – she’s a pervert.

    I want so much to hug you! That’s just it. I want to hug you.

    You never deserved ANY of this. None. There is no excuse anywhere for this behavior.

  2. Unfortunately, there are some professions which attract those interested in exercising power over others. The link between morbidity and BMI is largely a fiction invented by the diet industry, and any medical doctor worth the name should know that. The fact that the exercise of overt prejudice stood between you and your MS diagnosis is all that needs to be said, and I’m not surprised you’re angry about it. You have every right to be angry about it.

    Good luck, and I hope you’re now getting decent treatment.

  3. Eve

     /  November 5, 2009

    What a lot of horrible ugly mean people! I’m appalled that any person would treat another human being that way. A doctor – who is supposed to take care of you – should never act this way. I guess they think it’s “tough love” or some crap like that but they have no right, and it’s not as if it works. Making fat people feel like crap has never been shown to make us lose weight.

    Also, why is it that some people seem to feel it’s their duty to tell us that we’re fat, in case we’ve never heard that before? As if every fat person isn’t told constantly that we’re horrible and should stay out of sight if we can’t diminish.

  4. And each doctor apparently thinks they are the only one to take the tough stand and tell you that you are fat. I truly think they think they get Hero Points for humiliating fat people. Truly, they need to learn to view fat people first and foremost as PEOPLE, not FAT.

  5. JaneA

     /  November 7, 2009

    Wow, what an awful experience you’ve had–all your life–with doctors! I can certainly relate to medical humiliation: due to the fact that I had scoliosis, I got the whole treatment. Doctors talked to me like I wasn’t a person, my peers taunted me, and even my dear mother did everything she could to make it a hellish experience. I was lucky that we finally found one doctor who not only treated me like a human being and talked to me like it was MY body I was dealing with.

    Anyway, I also want to tell you that not all doctors treat “fat people” that way. My best friend is morbidly obese, and she has a doctor who doesn’t humiliate or pressure her–and in fact has been a real ally for her in her search for nutritional counseling and for other conditions she has (most of which are totally unrelated to her weight).

  6. JaneA

     /  November 7, 2009

    Also, please note that my above comment is not meant to invalidate your experience, but to give you hope that there are doctors (although they may be few and far between) who will treat you like a human being no matter how much you weigh.


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