A reader writes:
First of all, I’m German. So please excuse me if I mess up with grammar or spelling.I’ll do my best, feel free to correct me. (Moderator note: edited for grammar/punctuation/spelling)
2 Years ago one of my legs started to hurt. I went to my “Hausarzt”, this is the doctor I first go to if I have any health-issues. (Fromm the story I read here I guess this is what you call a “GP”?). First of all: he’s a great man who tries to see his patients as whole persons and treat them like that. He sent me to a specialist for an ultrasound of my veins. He told me, that he thinks it might be lipedema or lymphedema and tried his best to explain what this means.
The appointed day of the screening was a couple weeks later so I had time to do some research of my one. I found out, that a lipedema was a chronic desease (genetic-based) which tend to become worse with the years. The small arteries are too permeable so that protein pass out in the tissue an gets connected to fat and water. As a result the fat is not accessible for “normal” weight loss cause it’s irreversibly bound in the tissue. As a further and more problematic result this can cause severe pain (because of the pressure in the tissue) and in some cases lead to immobility.
This was a scary potential diagnose. So I went to the specialist and hoped it would be something else, less serious.
The old man did the ultrasound of my legs. I asked him quite a few times what he was seeing on the screen and what he was doing. He ignored me. Then he said. “Yes, it’s lipedema stage 3”. I asked him how he could know that (because I had read how to diagnose lipedema and every info said “ask the patient about the history of weight”, “ask if she tends to get bruises on the legs”, “feel the tissue and fat under the skin, if it has a special form”). He then (after he had his diagnosis) poked one finger into my leg and said “well that’s a specific palpation finding”.
I asked him what that disgnosis means and if I can do anything to stop it becoming worse. He said “no, perhaps liposuction” (later I learned that liposuction is in fact the only thing, that can “heal” a lipedema but isn’t paid by our health insurances). But there are a couple of other treatments that at least can ease the pain like surgical stocking.
But beside his rough tone, his bad manners and his denial to answer my questions, the thing that shocked me most was his answer to my question what this diagnosis means exactly. My question was about “will I have pain, will it get worse, can you please explain to me what’s happening in my body?” But the Doctor had his very own idea of the meaning of the diagnosis, lipedema, (which he told me while I stood in the neon light half naked):
“Well, you know you don’t have pretty legs and you never will.”
Yes Doctor: That’s the Problem! Not the Pain, not the potential immobility. The Problem is that my legs will never be pretty! I should have asked him if he thinks he is here to be the judge in a fucking beauty competition!
It’s not a concern if I can do my job for the next 30 Years or if I will have problems with the stairs to my home. For me, as a women, my only problem can be that this old man thinks my legs aren’t pretty!
But I was shocked, I was scared and I nearly started to cry. Because he offered no further advice or treatment, I asked him a few times “But what can I do now?” And he turned around and left the room.
I wrote this, because even if he didn’t said I needed to lose weight (well, with this diagnose it would be ridiculous, cause the illness is :”You’re body binds fat in the tissue that can’t be removed through diets or sports” but this bullshit about my body isn’t pretty is both “fat shaming” and “misogynistic”.
Lucky for me, I have my regular doctor who tells me about studies about fat and thin people where fat people who exercise are healthier than the thin ones who don’t. And I have my lovely boyfriend who went crazy when I told him about the doctor’s opinion about my legs. “What the hell does this A### think he is telling you “you are not beautiful.” This dumb old Derp doesn’t have a diploma in “Beauty judgement” and no right to say anything about you. Your legs are wonderful and beautiful…..”