P F writes:
My husband is fat. He was a fat baby, a fat child and now, at 5’8″ ranges between 280 and 320 lbs. So not just fat, but DEATHFAT! My husband was always very coordinated and graceful, quick and extremely strong. Even today, he can bench press 300lbs 10 times without straining at all. To the surprise of every doctor everywhere, he was always very healthy as well, with great cholesterol, low blood pressure, low heart rate and good blood sugar.
Until 5 years ago when my husband lost his colour vision. He could see, just not colours. After 4 hours at an ophthalmologist, a preliminary diagnosis was made: Multiple Sclerosis. (The first symptom is typically vision problems, though loss of colour vision alone is unusual.) He was referred to a neurologist who said “You should lose weight.” He ordered no tests and did not even mention MS. My husband was demoralized at yet another doctor calling him a fatty and his vision returned to normal, so he ignored the diagnosis and went on with life.
Then, 3 years ago, the stomach symptoms started. He couldn’t eat. My husband could keep down some liquid, but solids he threw right back up. (It turned out to be gastroparesis, essentially a paralysis of the stomach leading to an inability for food to move into the intestines. The food rots for a while, then the body ejects it, i.e., vomiting. It’s not uncommon with MS.) He went to his GP, who was delighted that my husband had lost 20 pounds. The fact that my husband was puking up every meal didn’t matter- he was losing weight!
Within 4 months, my husband had lost 120 lbs. He could no longer walk. His feet burned, he was losing feeling in his fingers and his teeth were a rotten mess from all the stomach acid. Doctor after doctor ignored the how and focused on how wonderful it was that my husband was losing his deathfat.
One night, I come home to find my husband passed out on the floor in a pool of blood. The constant vomiting had damaged his esophagus. The ER doctor was horrified. The burning feet? Neuropathy (permanent nerve damage) from vitamin deficiencies. Several of his teeth were abscessed. My husband was dying, and this was the first doctor to care. I cried tears of relief that someone actually cared.
The ER doctor ordered an MRI and a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Because of my husband’s size, the LP had to be done with a flouroscope because they couldn’t feel his vertebrae well enough. The doctor doing the LP was angry at my husband for being fat. When he was told they didn’t have the right size needle, the one on the tray was too big, he used it anyway and my husband has had severe back problems since. (He never had them before.)
Turns out, my husband had MS all along. Weight is irrelevent to MS. There is no correlation between MS and weight. If anyone had cared to see past his weight, he could have avoided permanent nerve damage. His stomach still causes him huge problems, and we’re $5,000 into $15,000 of tooth repair. He’s in pain every day and struggles with everyday tasks. At least they didn’t kill him.
Thanks for listening.