Anyway, I have a billion stories about doctors deciding that if I just lost a little weight, all my problems would go away. Never mind that I have a couple of conditions which CAUSE weight gain. Conditions that I, in fact, diagnosed for myself and only asked the doctors in question to confirm. If you’re fat, well, lose weight. It will all magically clear up. But I’m only going to share a couple of stories because I think they illustrate perfectly what’s wrong with the medical establishment today.
First, when we lived in Houston, I had to find a new doctor. This is never a fun thing for me. After years of dealing with doctors who were convinced I was lying about my diet and exercise habits, meeting new doctors who are likely to provide more of the same stresses me out. But I have a condition which requires prescription medication to treat, so go I must.
I walked into this doctor’s office and explained that despite the fact I was on medication for my thyroid, I was still experiencing many symptoms of hypothryoidism. I was still losing hair, feeling like crap, suffering extreme joint pain, etc, etc, etc. This doctor’s response? “Well, I know it hurts when you walk, but you need to do it anyway.” Do what? Did you really just tell me that even though a particular activity causes me a great deal of pain during the activity and extreme exhaustion afterward, I should do it anyway?
I went off, y’all. I. WENT. OFF. Because I knew if I weren’t overweight, she would never, ever have said some ridiculous shit like that. She would have offered some alternatives for exercise that would let me get the activity I needed without causing pain. (Like how about swimming? Or strength training? What about an elliptical which is no impact exercise?) Because after all, if I were thin, I wouldn’t really NEED the exercise, so it would just be about retaining joint mobility. But since I’m fat, well, I should suck up the excruciating joint pain as that isn’t as important as losing weight. God, I’m pissed all over again.
A friend of mine had taken up jogging as part of an effort to lose weight. She hurt her foot pretty badly, so of course, she went to the doctor. The doctor told her it was no big deal and to keep on jogging. So my friend did this, and her foot kept getting worse and worse. The doctor told her it was fine, so my friend sought a second opinion. The second doctor, the one who wasn’t bigoted, told her that continuing to jog on that foot had only exacerbated the problem. He told her to stay off it until it was healed. And maybe the first doctor wasn’t a bigot, but I honestly don’t think she’d have said that to a thin person who was in pain. Because in our culture, weight loss is first and foremost. It’s the holy grail of health. If you just lose weight, everything will be okay.
Don’t believe me? Well, I’ll tell you what happened at my last doctor’s appointment. I went in having lost about 30 pounds. He was understandably pleased by this. I told him I’d like to quit smoking, so I wanted to talk to him about alternatives. He looked at me and said, “You understand that quitting smoking will slow down your metabolism to the point that you can gain about 20 lbs per year; right? You have a plan for dealing with that?” I’m not lying, y’all. Whitey can verify that this is EXACTLY what was said.
My last anecdote is about a friend who went in to have a mole removed. Her regular doctor was out of the office, so another physician (one she didn’t know) stepped in to do the procedure. He then proceeded to berate her about both her weight and smoking. He told her, “You’re a college graduate. You should have more sense than this.” She went in for a fucking MOLE REMOVAL, y’all.
Don’t get me wrong – I understand that doctors have to discuss this stuff with their patients. I get that there are going to be things that patients don’t necessarily want to hear. However, giving someone shitty advice solely because losing weight is the primary focus isn’t good medicine. I’m going to assume that most of you have read the literature about the effects of yo-yo dieting on both health and long-term weight management. Focusing on weight loss and the perceived problems accompanying it rather than on ACTUAL problems a patient has is just shitty, if you ask me.
Also, we’ve learned that shame and blame aren’t effective tools in raising healthy, productive, happy children. Why are we still using shame and blame when we deal with health issues? Why do we think that something that absolutely does NOT work in kids is going to be magically AWESOME for adults? Really? Are we really this stupid?
So, probably you’re wondering what the outcome was with the above situations. Well, with my two friends, they’ve chosen other doctors. With myself, I’ve chosen to speak up and speak out about this kind of thing. I give doctors a chance to get educated and get over their preconceptions about obesity. If they don’t get on board, they get gone. I don’t have time or patience for haters, no matter what letters are behind their names. (Are you sensing a theme here? Heh.)