Doctors, Doctors, Doctors

One of the things I expected in dealing with my father’s medical odyssey was “weight talks” or fat shaming — not of him, but of me.  You know, the “Well, you should take care of yourself by being thin” talk.   It actually hasn’t happened.  I think it’s partly because the patient weighs 175lbs and partly that his primary health problem is strongly linked to smoking.  “You don’t smoke?  Good for you” tends to cover that.

I have new reason to be glad of this.  See, a couple weeks ago I visited an in-law in the hospital.  The reason she was in the hospital wasn’t related to her diabetes, but an HbA1c test was run and her results were high.  During the time I was visiting a diabetes educator stopped by to discuss blood sugar control, including testing, meal composition, activity, stress reduction, and weight loss—a pretty typical “weight talk”. About an hour later a hospital dietitian came in to discuss the hospital food, diet, and, again, a weight talk. And both pointed out that weight loss can cure type 2 diabetes! (Maybe.)

Anyway. The weight talk wasn’t with me this time; I reminded myself, repeatedly, that it wasn’t about me.  The in-law in question would like to lose some weight, slowly, and with an emphasis on maintaining it.  That is her choice, not mine.  No one told me that I should lose weight.  Cool, right?

…and then, last week, I put off calling to get an appointment despite chest tightness and needing to use my albuterol inhaler multiple times a day, after having had a cough and sinus stuffiness for a month.  Why? Because I didn’t feel able to deal with medical practitioners when I was tired and sick.  I feared the stress of “You’re fat and therefore you don’t deserve to be healthy” more than I feared the chest pains. (Granted, I put the pain at about a 2, and breathing shallowly or using albuterol relieved it.  But still.) When a friend urged me to get an appointment — which turned out to be with a new-to-me doc at my practice, because that’s who was available — memories of weight lectures past, and others’ bad experiences, caused me to bring the man of the house with me for support.

As it happens, the visit was fine; pneumonia was ruled out and I was given antibiotics for a respiratory infection with no fat-shaming or weight talk.  I was treated as a patient, not a fat patient, and I’m glad. I just wish it was that way for everyone.

Related:

Blog: First, Do No Harm

Huffington Post: When Doctors Judge Their Obese Patients

Prepared Patient: Larger Patients: In Search of Fewer Lectures, Better Health Care

American Medical News: The weight of obesity: Linking large people to care

Fat Friendly Professionals List

4 thoughts on “Doctors, Doctors, Doctors

  1. Oh I understand. I need to go to the doc badly. But I have not lost enough to lay on the table for test or the surgerys to remove the growths. Man I hate going cause even for a simple cold I get the fat talk. I asked one day how should I do it. Athritis both legs back problems and fluid retintion that hurts when I move. She looked at me and said join weight watchers. Really that was the answer to save me. One day I will get the truth.

  2. Hopefully most care providers realize they are there to advise the PATIENT, not the patient’s relatives. It shocks me that you even expected to get hassled like this. What a sad statement upon some “care” providers.

    As I’ve mentioned, I took care of my dying mother for several years, and we had many many appointments with her care providers. Not once was my weight mentioned, not even when my [thin] mother developed diabetes towards the end.

    It never really occurred to me that my weight might come up in an appointment about her health; it’s a good thing it didn’t or I would have opened up a can of whup-ass on them like they wouldn’t believe. I generally give the benefit of the doubt to providers because I realize what a hard job they have, but hassling a relative would be waaaay out of the scope of their care and a clear example of bias.

    Stick to the person who is your REAL patient, docs!

    • It may be unprofessional, but from jr high through college my mother’s doctors would remind me to lose weight so I could avoid her medical issues.

      There’s a reason I expect “Weight Talks”.

  3. Man, I can so relate. I’m glad you had a good experience on this trip and I hope any future trips to the doctor that you need to make are as good or better. I hope this for us all. *hugs*

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