Near-fatal fat bias by emergency room doc

Erica writes:

I’m in the not quite thin, not quite fat range. I’m considered lean by my doctor who is really nice about weight as per my husband who is slightly overweight, but in excellent health. I’m built sturdy and gain/keep muscle mass easily. I grew up very involved in sports, possibly to a negative. I was adopted as a 9 month old by my amazing family who enjoy being active. But, my biological parents were/are addicts to extremes, and I just replace their drug addictions with exercise and food choices (vegan, 80% raw diet) so I got the addictive personality. But, exercise has given me very powerful legs and upper body – which means my “basic” BMI is 32, but via calipers, I’m around 21. I’m just not built to be petite. I have gotten to my BMI maximum recommended weight, and that was from 3 marathons in 8 days a few weeks prior to a very icky round of upper respiratory crud so I didn’t want to eat because I couldn’t smell or taste much, so I ate something that resulted in major gastric hell. That low stopped my menstrual cycle for 7 months, even after I put weight back on. That’s just background so you can hopefully see why I’m writing in.

Doctor hell was so nasty to me, I can’t imagine what it’s like if you are heavy.

DH and I were rear ended by a drunk driver with a BAC of 0.37. I instantly braced my arms forward as we were shoved into oncoming traffic and my door took 90% of the inactive, spinning us into a head on collision. I got a fractured wrist (left), a severely sprained and dislocated wrist (right), dislocated elbow, shattered right patella with nearly all knee structure gone, bone bruises, the billion other bruises, cuts and general soreness. But, worst damage – lacerated liver, smushed kidney and exploded spleen. Ambulance crew was awesome – one claimed I was light. ER nurses were great. Surgeon was great, and he was dealing with a nasty mess so I wouldn’t have cared if he complained about my weight.

ER doctor was the nastiest jerk. My arm was too fat to reset. My abdominal swelling wasn’t that, I was just obese. Nurses were horrified and ran to get DH and
another doctor. Doctor took a three second glance at me and sent me straight to surgery. He let DH sit on my stretcher on the way because he wanted to make sure DH would get a chance to say goodbye.

Fat bias very nearly killed me. But, no other doctor prior or since has claimed I am as morbidly obese as ER jerk felt. He was a social menace to any potential patient. Thankfully for me, he’s no longer in my state. But, I am sorry to whoever has to experience him now. He never wavered from the fat claims.

So, that’s my experience. It’s not common in my mind, but that’s probably related to my limited experience. I can’t have a clue what daily verbal abuse is like because I’ve not experienced. But, it worries me. If I’m morbidly obese, what is healthy? What is the normal weight then? Apparently it’s 100 pounds or something. And that teaches children to obsess to avoid being less than ideal.

10% survival chance because it was better to ignore clinical signs and the paramedics explaining exactly how I got so hurt. On scene started me at 99.99% survival. Which stayed pretty stable, was getting pale and shocky but I was coherent and guess was adrenaline crashed. Intern was starting to think I had the liver laceration, got Dr. Pompus Jerk to check me, thinking I was getting worse, maybe around 70%. Jerk poked me, started the abuse, nurses got help within 3 minutes. And then it was 10% and saying goodbye was a very serious reality. DH has never been able to listen to Last Kiss by Pearl Jam since. It’s too close to what happened. Now, he won’t leave without a snuggly kiss and hug, and I get rather Tigger bouncy when he’s home.

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  1. Any chance jerk doctor can be sued or removed from practice?

  2. I too have been hearing about how “obese” I am, even when I was 165 pounds at just shy of 5 foot 7. I was also told by a doctor that I needed to lose weight when I weighed 132 pounds because I’ve always been kind of stocky in the hip and leg department.
    I have been bulimic since the age of 12, and even when I wasn’t actively bulimic, I was yo-yo dieting. At this point I actually am fat, and I assure you, everything, and I mean everything, is focused on my size.
    I’m sorry you had to endure this despicable treatment and am glad this doctor’s heinous incompetence didn’t kill you.

  3. That’s awful, those 3 minutes are life and death in car crashes, or pretty much anything.

    And yes, for those of us who are bigger, the abuse is daily, especially from family. I no longer go to see a doctor (haven’t been in 2 yrs) since all that I’ve ever seen have been douches and jerks.

  4. Just goes to show that prejudice is not limited to people who are actually in the stigmatized group.

    I maintain the Autism Memorial site, and I find this is true for anti-autistic bias, too. Three of the 153 memorials on my site, which is for people who died because of ablist prejudice against autistic people, were not autistic. One had reactive attachment disorder, one was an international adoptee who didn’t speak English, and one was a healthy six-month-old baby. They were all killed by people who thought they were autistic.

    Even if a person is not in any minority groups, they are still not safe from prejudice. That–among many other things–makes prejudice everyone’s problem.


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