Saturday, June 24, 2017

Took My Fat Butt to the Doctor...

Okay, ya'll. I am feeling the need to relate an experience I had the other day at the doctors' office, that has me a little irritated. And you know, if this were the first time it had happened, I might brush it off. But it's not the first time something like this has happened.

So I go to see my gynecologist for my yearly exam. He mentions my significant weight loss since last year. He mentions my metabolic disorder (in my chart). He mentions the endocrinologist who I see for my metabolic disorder, and who my gynecologist describes as "the best". He mentions my vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and asks about my progress. You know what he does then?

He tells me I need to reduce my calorie intake (without asking me anything about my diet). He asks about my physical activity, then tells me I also need to exercise more to maximize my weight loss.

You know... if he didn't know that I had a diagnosed metabolic disorder, was under treatment by "the best" endocrinologist in the area, that I recently had gastric sleeve, that I'm already seeing a nutritionist, and have lost 70 lbs... if he didn't know all of that and as a medical professional wanted to insert his advice about my weight because he was concerned about my obesity, then fine. But when you know your patient has taken proactive steps to combat the condition, is being seen by someone you yourself consider "the best", and has had significant weight loss, well... do you really think another lecture about how fat she is, how she needs to reduce caloric intake & increase physical activity, well, do you really think that's helpful? Or is it degrading? Disheartening? Insulting?

It's not the first time this has happened. In my early 20s I  experienced some breast changes that, because of my family history of breast cancer, my family doctor felt should be evaluated by a breast specialist. So I went. She never even examined me. True story. She asked me to have a seat in her office, fully clothed, and lectured me on how I needed to lose weight, and somehow this would resolve my breast issues. She literally never even looked at my breasts, let alone did an exam.

Let that sink in for a minute. A patient is referred to you, as a specialist, because of significant changes in her breasts combined with a strong family history of breast cancer. And you, as a specialized medical professional, never even examine her, but instead lecture her about her weight as if that will cure all of her issues.

Needless to say, I never went back.

Thankfully my family doctor was as appalled as I was and ordered my first mammogram. He also said he would no longer be referring patients to that particular doctor.

Don't misunderstand me, I know that obesity is a major health issue in our country. But it isn't everything. It's not even close. Nothing about my yearly gynecological visit necessitates comments about my weight, diet, & exercise, especially when you know I'm already being treated for those issues. Nothing about the changes in my breasts were attributed to my weight, nor would losing weight somehow miraculously prevent breast cancer from being a concern in my life.

The sad thing is that these experiences are nothing new, not for me, and not for millions of other Americans. Our concerns, the real medical issues that need to be addressed, are dismissed; we aren't taken seriously; we endure lecture after lecture about our weight, whether we want it or not. We hear the surprise in the nurse's voice when our blood pressure is within normal limits, and the look of surprise on doctors' faces when we tell them that "No. I'm not diabetic. In fact, my sugar trends low."

It's bad enough the things we endure from John Q. Public, but the doctor is one place we should be able to go, discuss valid concerns, and have those concerns addressed, without judgement. But it's not. It's just not.

It's really sad to think that one of the benefits of me one day reaching a healthy weight is that doctors will now take me seriously. Really, really sad indeed.

As always, thanks for checking in!

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