Chris Christie fires back at doctor who diagnosed him from 2,400 miles away

Brian writes:
I know First, Do No Harm, is primarily about private patients’ stories, but today’s Chris Christie spat is such a perfect example to bring up.

Dr. Connie Mariano, a former White House physician, went on CNN and made the following comments about Chris Christie:

“I like Chris Christie a lot, I want him to run, I just want him to lose weight.”

“I’m a physician more than a Democrat or a Republican, and I worry about this man dying in office. I worry that he may have a heart attack, he may have a stroke…it’s almost like a time bomb waiting to happen unless he addresses those issues before he runs for office.”

A doctor looking at nothing more than our weight and telling us we’re going to die? We all know that story. But what’s amazing is that Christie responded with probably the strongest statement against fat discrimination and doctor prejudice I’ve ever heard from a national politician, and it’s one we should all feel free to borrow when dealing with our own prejudiced doctors:

“You know, I find it fascinating that a doctor in Arizona who’s never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history, could make a medical diagnosis from 2,400 miles away. She must be a genius. She should probably be the Surgeon General of the United States, I suspect, because she must be a genius. I think this is just another hack who wants 5 minutes on TV”

“And it’s completely irresponsible. Completely irresponsible. My children saw that last night. And she sat there on TV and said ‘I’m afraid he’s going to die in office.’ I have four children between 9 and 19. And my 12 year old son comes in last night and says, ‘Dad are you going to die?’ This is irresponsible stuff. And people who have a medical license, who have the privilege of having a medical license, should in my view conduct themselves more responsibly than that. If she wants to get on a plane to come here to New Jersey, and ask me if she wants to examine me and review my medical history, I’ll have a conversation with her about that. But until that time she should shut up.”

If anything it’s too nice to the doctor (the sarcasm covers up the fact that she was grossly wrong even on statistical analysis–a 50 year old “morbidly obese” man with no comorbidities (I assume), who doesn’t drink or smoke, and is reasonably fit is fairly unlikely to die before 62, the age Christie would be when he leaves office if he runs and wins in 2016). But still, it’s pretty damned impressive to see a politician fire back with righteous anger at a bigoted doctor rather than abase himself and apologize for his weight.

My take on this is that the good doctor isn’t taking into account the amount of stress that anyone who is POTUS has to face on a daily basis. And it’s that stress that has a more deleterious effect on one’s health than only being fat ever could. But how many of our doctors ever ask about the stress in our lives? How many of them look at us, see a fat person, and automatically assume that we’re lazy and eating nothing but junk food? How many of them ignore things that could help improve our health in favor of prescribing the Nightmare On ELMM Street? This doctor isn’t any better or any worse than any of the doctors we’ve had to face who looked at us and saw nothing but their prejudices about fat people, she just happened to pick on the wrong man – a governor who has the guts and the media attention to strike back at her and tell it like it is: “You aren’t my doctor, you don’t know me, you don’t know my family history, you don’t know what I do or don’t do, you don’t know anything about my health, so you need to shut up and quit diagnosing long-distance.” I may not agree with his politics, but I say “Hooray for you, Governor Christie, hooray for standing up to a fat-phobic, bigoted doctor.”

Lots of strange symptoms? Nothing that weight loss won’t cure!

Kae writes:

I have always been heavy for my height. However, as a child and teen I was also very active and generally healthy and so for a long time I only weighed 15-25 lbs more than I was “supposed” to. However, around the time I turned 16 my family’s regular doctor (whom we all loved) was preparing to retire and her office hired a new doctor to replace her. Unfortunately, this new doctor had a bad reputation for being dismissive and impatient. One friend whose mother used to go to him at his former office had nothing good to say about him. He had misdiagnosed her and the medicine he put her on made her illness worse. She switched doctors and warned everyone to avoid her old doctor if they could. Sadly, our insurance gave us limited options as far as primary docs were concerned and so we had to see him until we were eventually allowed to change providers.

My father hated him. He said he was rude and arrogant toward him. My mother disliked him because he never fully listened to her and basically ignored what little he did hear. Then I met him. At the time I was experiencing some strange symptoms. My periods were irregular and very heavy and painful, I was growing hair in unwanted places, and I was losing the hair on my head. Worst of all, I began to gain weight rapidly even though my eating habits and mobility had not changed. At the time I also suffered from terrible allergies that made it impossible to breathe through my nose. It was primarily because of the allergies that I went to see him. He took one look at me and suggested I lose weight. I then explained about all of the things I was experiencing and he dismissed it all, saying that all I needed was to try harder to lose weight and that everything would magically right itself.

His dismissal of my symptoms dismayed me, but as he didn’t indicate anything else might be wrong, I let it go. However, his blithe attitude also made me wary of doctors and I only ever saw one after that if I was really sick. Fast forward five years. I was 22 and newly married and I had just learned that I was pregnant. Because I now had different insurance I had to scramble to find a new OB/GYN. After a few let-downs I ended up with the nicest of doctors. During my first exam my new doc shook my hand, looked me over (while I was still fully clothed) and said, “I want you to get your thyroid checked.” When I asked why, she said that I had several very obvious outward signs of hypothyroidism and she was very surprised that no doctor had had me tested for it yet. We talked for a while about my symptoms: Unusual body hair growth, thinning head hair, painful and irregular periods, abrupt weight gain, and the fact that exercising wasn’t helping to take it off. She ordered the blood work and I had it done the next day.

Sadly, it was not quickly enough. I had a devastating miscarriage a week later, and although my doc said that anything could have triggered it, she surmised that my severe hypothyroidism was an attributing factor. The blood tests came back the day after the miscarriage and I was immediately put on thyroid medicine. Within three months my periods became lighter and more regular, my hair became thicker, and I dropped 30 lbs. I also became pregnant again and 39 weeks later I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Still, whenever I think back on it I get angry. If that bastard doctor had actually taken the time to listen to me or to see more than my weight, would my first child have survived? I do know that if I had been properly diagnosed when I was 16 I wouldn’t have had nearly as many problems as I ended up with.

Unexplained Weight Gain? – You must be gorging yourself, no other explanation for it.

Hi – I found your blog in the aftermath of a visit to my doctor about my rapid unexplained weight gain that left me shocked and in tears.

I have always been super health and exercise conscious, but over the last year I have gained 25 pounds and no amount of dieting or exercise will shift the scales. I consider myself very nutrition conscious – in fact health and nutrition have always been personal interests of mine. After trying several doctors, who all simply referred me to community dieticians who: 1. told me about calorie intake and the food pyramid 2. Advised me to ‘move more eat less’ 3. gave me a printout of the Paleo Diet from the internet, I decided to visit an eminent and expensive doctor in my area. After explaining that I tried everything, that I was very well informed about exercise and nutrition and was looking to discover if there was another cause of my inability to lose weight, he started a barrage of the most astonishing comments. The worst part was, these comments were not addressed to me, but to a very young, very slim med student who was sitting in on the consultation. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow description, but a selction of his comments included:

“No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out fat”
“Have you ever read the book “Why French Women don’t get Fat”?
“Cut out those chocolate biscuits at morning tea” ( I hate chocolate)
“Don’t you have any other interests, hopes dreams that you could be thinking about instead of food?”
“Have you ever been to Europe where people really respect good food?” (I guess the assumption here was that I live on burgers and fries? In fact I lived in Europe for 20 years and am very interested in cooking and food of different countries)
And my favourite – directed to the student: “What do we call people who make the same mistakes over and over and expect a different outcome?”
To her credit, the young med student looked mortified, but not as mortified as me..My lip was quivering and I could barely speak. I walked out of there with a pathology referral whch was not explained to me, shell shocked and devestated.

I now find myself even more humiliated, feeling worthless and not entitled to having anyone give a damn about helping me resolve my weight issues. And guess what, if this rate of weigh gain continues, I will represent a worse health risk and get treated even worse by the medical profession!

Young? Chest pain? Fat? It’s your weight, it can’t be your gallbladder (even if tests say otherwise).

Tod writes:

I think it would be relevant to note that although I am a guy, I am FtM transgender and at the time the doctor in question considered me a young woman. I don’t think she would have treated me this way if I had been a cis man; the stigma against overweight women seem much worse than overweight men.

Anyways, this happened about a year ago, when I was 19. I had a terrible relationship with my doctor, primarily because she spent most of every checkup questioning me on my eating habits, and clearly did not believe what I told her (I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, and still manage to be 5’5″ and weigh 220lbs). She was convinced I needed to lose weight to help my asthma (still not sure how that one was supposed to work) and my somewhat high blood pressure that I couldn’t seem to mitigate regardless of changes in lifestyle.

I started having fairly severe pain in my upper chest, especially at night. Being as I lived at school at the time, I went to see the campus health center, which is staffed by extremely nice and competent nurses. The woman I saw there told me it sounded like a very bad case of gallstones. She suggested I change my eating habits, come back the next day and see if that helped. It did indeed help; no fats or oils, no pain. I also talked with my mom around this time and found out women in our family have a history of developing pretty severe gallstones around this age. So I called up my doctor and scheduled an appointment for that weekend, when I could get home.

She seemed very skeptical of the nurse’s conclusion when I told her, and insisted I get her notes from when she met with me. The people at the campus health center were also somewhat bewildered by this, but happy to comply after working out what forms I needed to sign.

So I go home, then to the doctor with these notes; she barely glances at them before stuffing them into her file and asking me to describe what was going on. I do so; she cuts me off as I start talking about how eliminating fats from my diet had done a lot to help with the pain (although at this point it was starting to come back if I so much as twisted too suddenly). She asks me if these ‘fatty foods’ were pizza and nachos that I was eating in the middle of the night.

I was rather stunned and told her no, I was talking about salad dressing, some fatty red meats, and the occasional side of french fries. And I don’t eat in the middle of the night.

She insisted, though, basically telling me she thought I was sneaking junk food in the middle of the night and that it was just causing me heartburn. She also insisted I was too young to get gallstones, even though I told her my family has a history of it.

I argued with her about it and finally she consented to schedule me for an ultrasound to have a look, as well as several blood tests to ‘cover all the bases’. I happily complied with the blood tests, went for the ultrasound the next weekend. By this point I am restricted to eating things that contain absolutely no fat or oil, and am in a constant, although somewhat low level of pain; I’m having attacks every night after dinner regardless of what I eat.

The ultrasound tech was very nice, and when I described my symptoms also immediately concluded it was gallstones. It didn’t take him very long to locate them; I could see them on the screen before he even started to point them out to me – there were a lot; my gallbladder was (quite literally) about half full of gallstones. Afterward we discussed the standard treatment (removing the gallbladder) which he said would be the best option in my case, and should be done soon. He sent the results along to my doctor and said she would help me get a surgeon.

So I go back to school, wait for the call from my doctor to schedule an appointment. A week goes by; no call. The technician said she should have gotten the ultrasound results the day after the procedure. I decide to call and find out what’s up.

Turns out yes, she did get them! No, she hadn’t been intending to schedule an appointment with me. Why? She doesn’t think the gallstones are the problem. It’s my weight, she insists.

Apparently at this point she wasn’t even bothering with the sneaking junk food idea any more; I was just in pain because of my weight.

At this point I decided enough was enough. I stopped seeing her and immediately found a new doctor (the one my dad went to, so she was somewhat familiar with our family). She was able to fit me in that weekend when she found out what was going on; she then immediately scheduled me for an appointment with a surgeon, who scheduled me for surgery within the week; he was somewhat alarmed by the fact that I was in constant pain now, implying that the gallbladder was probably becoming infected.

After the surgery, he informed me that if they had waited much longer (as in a matter of days) there was a high likelihood I would have died or, at the very least, had a much longer recovery; my gallbladder had been so swollen it had started to fuse with other neighboring organs. Much more vital ones.

At the next appointment I had with my new doctor (my first proper appointment really, since at the first one she had been mostly concerned with getting me to the surgeon) we started going over medication I was taking and she was shocked to find that old doctor had instructed me to take Albuterol (an inhaler for asthma symptom relief) preventatively, twice a day, every day. Apparently this is not how Albuterol is meant to be taken, and is in fact fairly detrimental, since it causes – wait for it – high blood pressure!

As soon as I started taking my inhalers the way they were meant to be taken, my blood pressure dropped right down into a very healthy range. What a surprise.

Doctor negates woman’s experience, doesn’t diagnose problem

Mary D writes:

I am fat, I know I am fat, and what it is to be stigmatized as the morbidly obese cretin unworthy of the health dollar. I live in Australia where the obesity witch hunt is in full flight. It is an area of discrimination sanctioned by government and encouraged by the media. Fat aussie kids are brutally bullied and their parents cruelly accused in the urgency to curb Childhood Obesity. Having worked in television most of my life I am deeply offended by networks grabbing ratings and advertising. I am upset when thin and attractive people of limited qualifications become stars and go unchallenged as they carelessly forecast imminent death to the obese. It is grotesque as they display and torture desperately unhappy fat people, on treadmills and cross country runs, in some televised freak show. It is hardly surprising that despite negligible success or quantified results the multi-million weight loss industry continues to make huge profits or that some surgeons have jumped on the Bariatric bandwagon and are offering high priced loans to desperate podgy patients of limited means as such treatment is not covered by our health service. Despite negligible results the multi-million weight loss industry makes huge profits.

Up until now because of my embarrassment at being fat I have not had the courage to point out that the human rights of the obese must be addressed. After a particularly humiliating appointment with my doctor I felt betrayed and realised I had to act. This is a matter of Human Rights and I have started with this letter:

Dear Dr ****,

I don’t want to offend you but I need you to understand how I feel. If I seemed confused on Tuesday and had trouble expressing myself it was because I was trying to avoid tears. I am very sensitive to the subject of obesity as experience has taught me that the moment a doctor mentions my weight and goes straight to diet he/she no longer sees past my size meaning serious illness might go unnoticed or untreated. The fight or flight reaction kicked in and I became more stressed as the feelings of rejection increased. Ironically, having come to trust and respect you I had made the appointment specifically to discuss my weight and the unusual structure of the fat, on my abdomen and between my shoulders, which is possibly not entirely attributable to Lymphodema but I didn’t have that opportunity.

It seemed to me that you did not believe me when I tried to outline my regular diet. To clear up any confusion: my diet mainly consists of lean meat, grilled fish, smoked salmon or six oysters, eggs (yolk removed after first egg) and various salad leaves (the dressing of which are sugar free and no fat, or plain lemon juice, or Balsamic vinegar) and seasonal vegetables steamed or stir fried in olive oil (mainly English spinach, fresh asparagus, capsicum, aubergine, microwaved mushrooms, spring onions, broccoli, celery etc).

When you pulled up < I felt it as an act of infantalization, as you had formerly treated me as an intelligent and cultured woman. No part of the picture blog, with its demonstration pile of white sugar cubes, applied to me. I do not consume fizzy drinks, fast food or processed foods nor do I eat pizza and would never darken the door of McDonalds or Kentucky fried because surprise, surprise, I am a very good cook and when I was slim and wealthy mostly dined at the finest restaurants in many parts of the world. I was staggered when you said I should replace fruit with a carrot. I eat one small serving of fresh fruit maybe once a day (raspberries, strawberries, red grapefruit, passionfruit etc and tomato) all of which are not much above the carrot in sugar content. I do not have bread, milk, sweets, cake or biscuits in the house. Items like the repellant tins of John West tuna, sardines or baked beans you suggested are quite foreign to my eating experience.

Had you believed me, you would have immediately realised that punitive micromanagement of my diet was not only unnecessary but would be detrimental to our goal. Had you thought about which person you were talking to, you would not have attempted to impose such a grossly culturally inappropriate diet. The approach denied my person, and nullified my own achievements. I don’t understand why you would want to do that.

During our conversation I attempted to say that I thought humiliation was fattening and as a fat woman I feel every cut delivered daily by the media about obesity. The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale confirms this and the New York Times weighed in, “Dr. Peter A. Muennig, an assistant professor of health policy at Columbia, says stigma can do more than keep fat people from the doctor: it can actually make them sick. “Stigma and prejudice are intensely stressful,” he explained. “Stress puts the body on full alert, which gets the blood pressure up, the sugar up, everything you need to fight or flee the predator.” Over time, such chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and other medical ills, many of them (surprise!) associated with obesity.”

I really felt that stress on the way home when I recalled you saying to me “If you keep going this way you might be one of those people who have eventually to be removed from their house by a forklift truck (sic)” and tears started to roll down my face. Overcome by embarrassment, I fled to the shopping centre in a blur wanting to be comforted, I bought things I have not bought for years. For dinner on Tuesday night I fought against sorrow with two dozen oysters, an entire bottle of decent wine and a whole bar of chocolate. Bring on the forklift truck!

Having no advocate, my normal response would be to creep away, seeking medical help from the hospital solely when catastrophe strikes. I only have to look to my left or my right, to find someone who has never experienced a weight problem, keen to act as a judgmental dietitian. I don’t need them. I know more about weight and diet than most health workers because I live it. What I need is a doctor – I need you, Dr ****, I need the cultured man who reads books and I had come to respect. The doctor who treated me as an intelligent woman who was once a top flight journalist and award winning screenwriter, not merely a cretinous fat blob. Dr ****, I need you as a diagnostician, and it is there that you excel.

I will make another appointment. Do you think we could start again?

Mary D

Sleep apnea? Just lose weight, it’ll go away…… sleep study needed.

Circumlocuting writes:

A few years ago I realized that my husband had sleep apnea. I would sometimes hear him stop breathing in the middle of the night and then make a horrible choking/gasping sound when he started breathing again.

Around the same time, my snoring was getting louder and louder (according to my husband). He said he never heard me actually stop breathing, but the volume of noise I produced at night was louder than anything he’d ever heard me produce during the day, even when screaming at the kids. (Just kidding! :-))

We were both in our late 30s and both obese, with BMI’s of around 35. We knew that if we lost weight, our sleep apnea would probably improve, but after close to a year of failed attempts to lose weight, we realized we just needed to see our doctor and be checked for sleep apnea.

I had the first appointment with our GP. The doctor very helpfully told me, “Well, I COULD send you for a sleep study . . . they’d get you set up with a CPAP machine that you’d have to use for the rest of your life. OR, you could just lose weight.”

I told him I hadn’t had a lot of success with that and was concerned about being treated NOW.

He said that I were just determined enough to achieve a healthy weight, I could do it. He had another patient who had been obese, taking meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., but one day he just determined he was going to achieve a healthy weight, and he did it. And I could too.

(So much for evidence-based medicine.)

So, I went home and tried some more to lose weight, with predictable results. My husband was so discouraged by what the doctor had told me that he didn’t even make and appointment.

Another year went by. And then something happened to make us take charge of our own health. A couple in our church lost their son-in-law. The man had sleep apnea and used a CPAP machine every night, but he was at a friend’s house one Saturday afternoon watching a basketball game on TV, and of course he didn’t have his CPAP machine with him. And he happened to doze off while watching the game. AND HE JUST DIED.

Luckily, our insurance allowed us to visit a specialist without having to go through our GP. We both made appointments with an ENT doctor, who sent us both for sleep studies. My husband turns out to have VERY severe sleep apnea. “Severe” is defined as “stops breathing more than 30 times per hour.” My husband stops breathing 90 (!!!) times per hour! I, on the other hand, do not have sleep apnea exactly — I have sleep “hypopnea,” which means that my obstructive snoring do not cause me to actually stop breathing, but it causes my blood oxygen levels to decrease to a dangerously low level. The treatment is the same — CPAP machines for both of us. The machines work incredibly well and are comfortable.

So, it’s not sexy, but we both sleep with our masks on and sleep much better and aren’t going to die in our sleep now.

We no longer go to that GP.

New doctor forces adjustment of lapband to cause weight loss – against patient’s wishes

Vee writes:

Here’s my story.

Twelve years ago I had a lap band. I lost weight at the time but regained all of it after a subsequent pregnancy. Since that time I have yoyo dieted and after some informative reading and bad experiences, I decided that I never want to diet again. My GP at the time was fine with this and happy to manage me, at my current weight of 308lb, free under Medicare.

Unfortunately my old GP retired suddenly. My options for free health care became extremely limited. I joined a local practice and on my first consultation was promptly told I need to have my lap band adjusted. It couldn’t possibly be working if I was the weight I am (not true) and that my free healthcare was conditional on my getting it reduced and losing weight. I told him that I thought this was ill advised because I was sure that I would regain the weight and that yo-yo dieting is worse than maintain a high weight. He insisted. I have serious health problems which need ongoing attention. I was enraged and looked up the medical ethics for Australian doctors but in the end, I was forced to comply. The end result was three months on a liquid diet and a 15kg loss which I promptly put back on and then some.

The result? I had benign fatty liver disease which has now converted to active fatty liver disease because of that weight loss. I am now a diabetic which I wasn’t before this loss and which evolved immediately following it. I’m 37 years old and completely enraged that someone forced me to do something against my will that resulted in me being much sicker than I was before hand. I am angry that someone thinks they have more right to dictate what I do with my body than I do…I’m just angry.

Falling asleep for apparently no reason? You’re too fat, lose weight.

Alan writes:

My Name is Alan. I grew up in farm country, have a height of about 5’11” and have weighed between 250 and 300 lbs since I was 16.
My first encounter with weight prejudice was when I joined the military. Their charts set my maximum weight at 190 lbs. I spent my entire time in the military on the “Fat Boy” program because of my weight. I was scoring outstanding on the sit-ups, push-ups and run; had a BF index of 20%, but failed at the weight chart. I left the military weighing 285 lbs.
Two years after leaving the military I suddenly started dropping off to sleep without warning in the middle of the day. This caused me to have two car accidents which prompted me to setup a doctors appointment. I had never seen this physician before but he had been recommended by my wife’s physician.
The nurses did the normal check-in of gather complaint, temperature, height, weight(265 lbs) and showed me to a room. I was a little confused because they didn’t do a BP yet. about 5 minutes later the doctor came in and asked “so besides your weight causing you to have fatigue, is anything else going on?” I was flabbergasted. I tried to explain that I had just started dropping off to sleep while in the middle of doing things for the last three months. He responded that this is not uncommon with my level of obesity. He ignored my statements that my weight was less than my last weighing when I left the military and my eating habits, and activity level hadn’t changed. He just continued to state that I needed to lose 40-50 lbs to be at a “safe” weight.
When I later was ranting about this to a group of friends, one of them commented that they had similar symptoms when their pillow was too fluffed because it caused sleep apnea. I stopped using a pillow that night and my symptoms vanished within 3 days.

You’re fat and sweat too much – reason for rash….NOT!

M@rla writes:

For years—years years years—I’ve had problems with a rash of acne underneath my breasts, and sometimes around the groin area. Oh yeah, VERY attractive! I’ve discussed it with several different doctors, and each time the result is “It’s caused by being overweight. You sweat more than normal people. If you weighed less, you would sweat less*, and this problem will go away.” You know, the typical “lose 50 pounds and call me in the morning” advice. And I would sometimes be given a topical acne treatment, either prescription or OTC, and it never did any good, because you know my problem was caused by THE FAT.

(*And of course this is hilarious, because now that I actually DO weigh less than before, I sweat MUCH more, because I exercise much more. You can’t freakin’ win with doctors.)

So a few months ago, I stumbled across something on the Internet about elastic dermatitis. Allergic reaction or sensitivity to the latex in elastic. Which is the reason why some doctors can’t wear latex gloves. And in a related concept, when elastic is bleached, it is even more irritating. Hmm. And here I have this RASH in the areas of my body—and ONLY in those areas of my body—where I consistently wear ELASTIC. Elastic which has frequently been bleached (thank you, menstruation!)

After reading about this, it suddenly dawned on me, “This isn’t acne.” The articles I read suggested treatment with a simple OTC hydrocortisone cream. So I went to my local drugstore, bought a store-brand cream for $5, and within TWO DAYS I could see improvement. Within six days the rash was GONE.

Gone. Just like that. Now seriously, how fucking hard is it for a doctor to misdiagnose this??? It’s nothing exotic, it’s not some kind of obscure tropical disease, it’s a very very very common condition! BABIES get it! Medical professionals get it! And those very same medical professionals could not recognize it in ME, because they were blinded by my fat dripping into their eyes. And they wonder why people consult Dr. Internet instead of wasting their money on a “real” doctor…

This isn’t one of those life-or-death stories, but it’s a damned good example of the blindness. And it was a big deal to me! those rashes were very disfiguring, and my skin has been permanently affected by them. Fortunately not in areas generally available for public viewing, but it’s not a healthy thing mentally to know you’ve got a hideous secret going on in your underwear, either.

When galling doctors attack

Alisha writes…

Until this last year, I avoided going to the doctor like the plague. I remember hearing “lose weight” every time my mom took me to a pediatrician.  By the time I was old enough to decide when I wanted to go to the doctor, I more often than not opted not to, even if I was sick.

When I was about twenty, I started experiencing terrible stomach pains.  The pains came out of nowhere; I was drinking a smoothie and suddenly felt like I was going to throw up. It was a hard pain to describe; it would come and go, and was both a burning and a cramping. It felt like it was at the top of my stomach. The first time it happened, I thought it was heartburn; I took a handful of Pepto Bismol and slept until it went away.

But it kept coming back. I discovered that if I either took a lot of Pepto Bismol or ate a lot, of anything, the pain went away. After a few weeks of this I went in to my university medical center and saw one of the doctors there. (more…)