Moment of Truth

For those who’ve never seen Fox’s execrable game show, Moment of Truth, it goes like this: the contestant, who’s hooked up to a polygraph machine, is asked a series of embarrassing questions. The more honest the answers, the more money the contestant wins.

Check out this abridged version of an episode featuring Aaron Dunbar, an Emergency Medical Technician. Two of the questions — asked by an actual fat person, presumably to increase Aaron’s discomfort in answering — are “Do you think fat people are simply weak?” and “Are you repulsed by fat people?” Aaron’s answer to both is “Yes,” followed by the robotic female voice representing the polygraph: “True.”

This might be the man who shows up to save your life in an emergency — a man who is repulsed by fat people and believes they are weak. And he’s not alone. I’ve personally had a conversation with an EMT who expressed similar sentiments — having to help very fat people was disgusting to him, and he found himself feeling anger toward them for “letting themselves get that way.” A 2001 study by Kelly Brownell and Rebecca Puhl found that 24% of nurses admit to being “repulsed” by fat patients. Last summer, paramedics in Gloucester, England, joked as a 245-pound woman died in her home, because they couldn’t figure out how to move her to the hospital.

For all the empty talk about being concerned for our health, there sure are a lot of medical professionals out there who simply don’t want to do their jobs when it comes to fat patients.

(Via Shakesville.)

“You’ll Die on the Table”

The Well-Rounded Mama has a post up today recounting stories she’s heard of fat women being told that if they get pregnant, they’ll die in delivery or shortly thereafter, that they have no business having children at their size, and if they don’t die in childbirth, their babies will. All because of their weight.

To me, this is one of the most monstrous kinds of fat bias. I wonder how many fat women have been scared out of having a baby at all because of treatment like this. I know that many fat women have been scared into Weight Loss Surgery with arguments like these, and that many others simply decided long ago not to even consider having children.

I also think that this has to do with doctors trying to become the gatekeepers of who they think should procreate and who should not. If they don’t think you “deserve” to have a baby or if they don’t want to see your fat genes passed along to future generations, they subtly or overtly discourage you from children.

Check out the rest of the post. It’ll make your blood boil.

Forget the debilitating illness — let’s talk about your daddy issues

Cory writes…

When I was in my teens I developed IBS. It was pretty debilitating and, combined with the anxiety and depression I was already experiencing, it turned me into something of a shut-in. I didn’t have a name for it, because it took me about ten years to get a diagnosis. In that process, I saw a lot of doctors. One, who I went to see on the recommendation of a family member, was particularly awful.

I came in for an introductory physical, and after weighing me, taking some blood, etc. he asked me why I was there. I had told him that my main compliant was IBS (I had found the term by then, and suspected that was what was wrong) and that I wanted a medical opinion on
what I could do about it. We went into his office after I got dressed and when I sat down, he asked me if I had ever heard of something called “The Atkins Diet.” Uh, yeah. I was gobsmacked. What was he talking about? I was 22, weighed about 240 lbs and was 5’7″. I had heard of every diet that had existed since the beginning of time. And I wasn’t going on any of them. Despite being at various degrees of fat my entire life, I had attempted dieting only once and had hated it so much that I stopped after three days.

I also know my body; my muscles are huge, my bones are dense. I am always going to weigh a lot, and I don’t care about that number. Before I could get a word in edgewise, he managed to ask me if I had trouble with my father (!?) because that’s where a lot of girls my age ran into trouble with getting fat and he also suggested the “half” diet to me. That’s where you can eat anything you want, but you just have half of it! Oh joy! Why hadn’t I thought of that! Just chuck the food in the garbage!

Not once did he mention the IBS. I asked if he had any advice on the problem I came in with. He said no, but maybe he could recommend a specialist. I walked out and never went back.

The worst part was, when I tell people that story, they don’t really get what was so awful about it. Because teh fat killz, right?

“It’s only been in the last year I’ve found a doctor that looks at me as a person”

Branwyn writes…

I have so many stories, years and years of being treated as just “fat” instead of a person with real, physical problems.

My first time with the prejudice doctors have against overweight people was when I was 16.  I’d had amenorrhea for a year at that point.  My grandmother (who I was living with) took me to the doctor, who, after doing a pregnancy test and a cursory pelvic exam, told my grandmother that I was just fat, and that if I lost weight, I’d get my menses back.  Oh, I weighed 165lbs on a 5’2″ body.  I was in a size 16, which yes, is overweight, but not what is usually considered normal to interfere with menses.

That started my hate of doctors and my utter loathing of my body.


Once again, an eating disorder is no excuse for not dieting

Nemohee writes…

After years of taunting and teasing by the other kids at school (who always seemed to assume that being fat also made you stupid, in addition to being ugly), I developed an eating disorder. It started out innocently at first: cutting down to 1500 calories a day, keeping a food journal, increasing my exercise, but soon it got out of hand. I was consuming NO MORE than 500 calories a day, and my poor dog nearly collapsed from the long, arduous walks I was taking him on (after which I would put him back in the yard, and proceed to exercise MORE). I was fairly proficient at hiding my low calorie intact from my parents, so they thought I was eating a healthy diet, though somewhat reduced in nature.

Naturally, I started losing weight. I lost three pounds in my first week. The next week it was four. My doctors, who had always chided me for being overweight (even going so far as to insinuate that my mother, who is heavy due to thyroid problems, was overfeeding me), were thrilled.

“Keep it up!” one responded joyously as I stepped off the scale. Never once did they stop to tell me that losing more than a pound and a half in a week was dangerous.

Three months later, I had lost enough to take me from a size 16 to a size 8. (more…)

Appendicitis? Try Weight Watchers!

Christina writes…

I’d like to start by saying I work with doctors. I’m pretty lucky…my PCP and Gastro know me as a person first before a patient, and I think that helps them see more than my 290 lbs.

However, that doesn’t mean all my experiences have been good. I went into the ER with possible appendicitis. I hurt. I have a damn good pain tolerance, but this was bordering on the “shoot me now” level of pain. I usually will “tough it out” before I go to the ER, but this was bad. They did all the tests, CAT scan, blood work, etc. My blood pressure was high. Of course it was high, I was in pain! As I’m lying there on the gurney, still trying not to move so it wouldn’t hurt too much, the ARNP comes in. I was expecting her to give me my test results, but no. She proceeded to tell me that she had food problems too, and that I should go to Weight Watchers and I would feel better. If I hadn’t been in pain, I’d be in jail for decking a nurse. I called the hospital the next day and complained and informed them that her comments were inappropriate and that I didn’t appreciate her berating me in front of my husband and other patients. From what I understand, her mood has changed considerably.

I’m not ashamed of my weight. You have to love yourself before you can make any change in your life. I once told a surgeon that if the only diagnosis he could come up with was “fat”, then he really needed to go to medical school and retake a few things.

I did have a good experience though. (more…)

“It Would Be Unethical to Help a Fat Woman Get Pregnant”

Janet writes…

Hi, I saw your call for emails re: bad experiences with doctors. Boy, have I had a ton of them. But this is the most recent, and most painful to date.

To bring you up to speed rather quickly, my husband, “Chuck,” and I have been trying to have a child for the past 4 years. We have had two miscarriages. Finally, we were referred to our friendly neighbourhood fertility specialist. We first met him and he was very nice, and incredibly professional. He saw us, we filled in a 14 page questionnaire, and we talked about the situation. He first thought I had PCOS, which turned out to be not the case. Then he did other tests, and failing all that, he concluded that if I lost a bit of weight it might be helpful. He figured that, hearing that advice from him would be the push I would need in the right direction, I guess. So anyway, he sends me away for three months to work on my weight, which I do. I watch what I eat, I exercise, I enjoy life… I am careful. And we try like hell to have a child naturally.

After the three months are up, and we aren’t pregnant, we head back to his office.


“There’s Nothing Worse than Being Fat and Pregnant”

Another story from Kelly

There’s nothing worse than being fat and pregnant. Every single prenatal visit, the nurses would check my blood pressure 3-4 times, despite the fact that it was perfect at every visit. They also made me do a stress test every month “just in case.”

I asked them just in case of what and they told me that people “your size” have high blood pressure. I said, but I don’t and never have … It didn’t seem to matter. In fact, they monitored my blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels throughout the pregnancy (which I paid for bc insurance will only cover so much) — even though I have NEVER had a problem and did not ever show signs of developing one.

Now when I go in for postnatal visits – it’s like everyone’s first astounded and then amazed that I’m consistently losing weight. One nurse even said, “Wow, most overweight people don’t seem to bother losing their baby weight.” I did speak up for myself that time and they’ve been much better since then.

“People Your Size are Irresponsible”

Kelly writes…

I had avoided going to the gynecologist but I knew that I needed a reliable method of birth control. So, I went, had a great visit and came home with a script for the Ortho-Evra patch.

One pregnancy-free year later, I go in for a check up feeling super-confident and ready for the horror of an internal exam. I got another doc – a woman – who seemed unhappy to be dealing with me. I told her what BC I was using and she was aghast.

She gave me a 30 minute lecture about people “your size” and how it was irresponsible of me to use the patch because of my weight and then, out of the corner of her mouth, said “Well, I guess it’s no surprise.” I asked her what that meant, and she said – “It’s obvious you have a problem with being responsible for your body.”

I am still angry with myself for not a) putting her in her place, b) complaining to the regular staff and c) putting my clothes on and getting out of there. Instead, I laid there with tears in my throat and finished the exam. I also went back to that practice when I went off BC to get pregnant. I’m more empowered now and won’t go back.

Because It’s All About Your Health

Tabitha writes…

When I was 13 or 14, my pediatrician gave me a list of exercises to do. He told me it was to “Keep your bottom from getting so big!” I was 5’6 and weighed 140 lbs. I wore a size 13/14 in juniors clothes. I was a perfectly healthy size and weight. He did not say it was to keep me healthy, or to keep me strong. He said it was to keep my butt from getting any bigger.