It’s not your anemia causing this, it’s your fat (WRONG!)

Mary writes:
I work at my doctor’s office (which is a large clinic of primary and specialty doctors). 1 of our doctors has late hours which is great when you’re not feeling well and you don’t want to have to ask for time off to go to doctor’s appointments

I am very overweight but other than my weight I am in very good health. My cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure are all good. The one problem I do have is anemia which, when not managed, can be difficult to handle because if makes me very weak and tired.

I was having some weakness and some breathing issues so I went to visit my doctor’s nurse and when she told me that my doctor was leaving for the day she suggested that I visit the after hours clinic to rule out a chest infection and request that my hemoglobin be checked.

When I got to the appointment the doctor (who’s worked for our clinic for 10+ years so she wasn’t fresh out of medical school or anything, she was experienced) spent 2 minutes asking me about my symptoms then started asking me about whether I was trying to get pregnant, or if I ever wanted to have a baby. She asked if I was on birth control because my weight would make it too dangerous if I got pregnant.

Then she started asking me about what diets I’ve tried and whether my family was overweight. She lectured me for 20 minutes about my weight and how I needed to try weight watchers (which I had told her I was already doing, but she still insisted on being a 20 minute commercial for weight watchers).

I also found out that she used to be very overweight which gave me the feeling that this was the reason she was being so sanctimonious.

So 30 minutes after checking in she sends me on my way after insisting that she give me an order for an ultrasound to rule out DVT (because she said that my weight and the fact that I take birth control, which I reminded her that the Provera I take is only for 5 days a few times a year and only if my period is late, put me at risk) and I had to remind her that she never told me what she was going to do about my breathing issue to which she responded “Oh well, I guess I’ll order you a chest xray”. I never bothered asking for the lab order for my hemoglobin because at that point I was so humiliated about being lectured about my weight that I just wanted to go home.

I called my doctor the next day about experience I had and she ordered my lab. turns out that my hemoglobin was down 3 points which is why i was weak and having trouble breathing…not because of my weight.

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  1. Same thing here. I had hip replacement surgery in May and my knee replacement surgery is coming up. Been feeling tired, a bit light headed and having breathing issues. Had to go to the PCP for medical clearance for my knee. I had all the blood work drawn and since it was so soon after my hip I don’t have to do the EKG or chest x-ray. Got the weight speech for the umpteenth time. When we were talking about the surgery I told him of my symptoms and he asked if I really wanted the surgery and when I said yes he told me to shut up about how I was feeling. Test came back three points lower than it was in May. Why don’t they listen?

  2. I’m glad I happened on this. My mother just had hip replacement surgery at the end of May, and since then has been having trouble breathing and feeling weak and tired. She was having PVC’s, but the doctor changed her blood pressure medication and those have normalized.
    I really hate how the current medical system is so honed in on making everyone thin that they miss real health concerns. It’s disgusting.

  3. so much empathy for you… i’ve been anemic for years, and i was accused of eating too much unhealthy fast food (at the time, i might have stopped for some fast food french fries once a month at best, but usually a couple times a year)… there was no reasoning with these people with their ridiculous excuses. i’ve had to have IV iron treatments because my iron got TOO low (this was after a terrible painful traumatic bone marrow biopsy… to diagnose anemia!), but the levels always dropped as soon as they came back up to normal.

    the reason i’ve been anemic all my life is because i have celiac disease, which i was told i was too fat to possibly have. once i stopped eating gluten, my iron levels came up naturally with a small amount of supplementation and an iron-rich (and vegan!) diet… they’re now higher than they’ve ever been in my life, and have stayed this way for a couple years, which has NEVER happened. the doctors were wrong about everything relating to my anemia… i’m not sure they could have been MORE wrong, actually.

    i’ve been to far too many doctors appointments where they start out like yours did (talking about a hemoglobin check) and then ending with some serious test or diagnosis or fat-shaming (or all of the above)…. all the while they’re forgetting the simplest explanation that came up when you first walked in. Occam’s razor, doc. Can we circle back around and try the first suggestion I made, which is consistent with my experiences and my history before we talk about DVT testing, supporting the diet industry, or jamming a giant needle into my hip bone without anesthesia? That’d be great. Thanks.


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