I’m 23 years old, 5’9″ and 244 lbs at last weighing. I do my best to be healthy, knowing I will never be slender, because my family has a laundry list of medical problems. It’s a miracle I don’t have any of them, apart from clinical depression, anemia, and some very mild cholesterol issues. Seeing a doctor has always been problematic for me. When I was a kid, it was a lack of money and insurance. Now, it’s fear.
When I moved to the city to live with my now-husband, I made my first dentist’s appointment in years with his family dentist. I had a broken tooth that had needed to be pulled for years and has now affected the alignment of another tooth. The dentist didn’t pull it right away. First, he wanted to drill some problem areas, which I agreed to, figuring I could use the repair job. He injected me with a local anesthetic and went to work.
But it wasn’t working. My cheek and tongue were numb, but I could still feel the pain in my teeth. When I tried to tell him, he told me I was just afraid of the drill and to stop whining. I’m not the most hardened of hearts, but a dentist’s drill doesn’t scare me. He continued working, while I tried not to cry and prayed he’d be done quickly. I left angry and in pain, but made a second appointment to deal with the actual broken tooth. The next visit was even worse and he still didn’t pull the tooth, but, I was so desperate, I made a third appointment and told him that we either needed to find a better anesthetic or something, but I wasn’t going to suffer through it again. He once again told me I was being unreasonable and a scaredy-cat. That third visit he gave me a double dose of the same anesthetic and all I got was half a numb face. I screamed and kicked, just trying to get his attention long enough to say, “HEY! I’m in pain here! This isn’t helping!” He told me to stop being a baby. After he left the room, I vented to his assistant, who agreed with me.
That night, I got a phone call from the dentist. He offered up a grudging apology, but informed me that the anesthetic should have worked and would probably work best if I lost about 30 pounds. I was devastated. I walked four miles a day, back then. I danced for about six hours every week. I was hardly eating (my regular diet consisted of ramen, grits, and canned peas). I weighed less and was in better shape (though, probably heinously malnourished) then than I did in high school. 30 pounds would have killed me.
For four years, I’ve avoided seeing a medical professional, out of fear. When we moved out to the country, I broke down and saw an NP. He checked me out, did some tests and informed me that I was hardly obese (the fact that I walked the two miles to get there might have helped) and would probably benefit from a therapist, rather than a nutritionist. I’m probably lucky that all it did was damage my self-esteem, as I could have fallen prey to any of the medical complaints my family has. But, the fact is, it did the damage and I’ve been afraid to see any health care professional since then.
Thanks for your time and your blog.