the big visit to my new doctor

Yesterday I had my first doctor’s appointment since diving into the big fatty awesome world of FA. I’ve written before about my nervousness/concern/sheer and total panic about going to a doctor because I know what much of the medical community thinks of fat people.

I made an appointment because I’ve been having some serious pain in both knees for the last week or so. As in, it’s difficult for me to get up and down stairs without being a whiny whinerson. As someone who has been an active person her whole life, and played varsity sports, and never broken a bone, I gotta say this is not good for my poor little soul. I want to recognize that I am still very able-bodied and that I in don’t want to seem ungrateful for the mobility that I do have. However, for me this is some hard-ass shit. I held off on making the appointment for a few days because I thought it would go away, and frankly because I didn’t want to pay someone to take one look at me and tell me to hit the treadmill, tubbo. But it got bad enough, so off I went. I should say, without this FA community, this experience most likely would have been eleventy squillion times worse. In comments to my last post about the doctor, someone directed me to this oh so fabulous resource and I ended up choosing a doctor on the list.

When I followed the nurse to get my vitals taken, I turned around when getting weighed so as to not look at the number, explaining that I didn’t want to know my weight because it can be triggering. The nurse just could not have cared less. “Sure! I love your scarf, where did you get it?” Wait, what? I’m not going to get read the riot act for refusing to participate fully in what almost every single person who goes to the doctor does? Huh, ok. I can work with this. It was actually kind of weird to purposefully not find out my weight. As anyone who has dieted (so…99.9991 percent of the population?) will tell you, when on a diet, the scale becomes a part of your routine (daily, weekly, whatever). Weight Watchers? Shit, the damn meetings START with a weigh in! Curves fitness? Weigh in AND body measurements every month (also an anti-choice organization, but that’s not the immediate point). I have lived with a scale in my bathroom for most of my life. I learned when I would weigh less in the day, what days of the week I would weigh less, which specific reading on the compass to turn and face to weigh less (ok, not that last one, but you get the point). That number was burned into my retinas until the next time I weighed in, crossing my fingers, saying little prayers (to whom exactly, I don’t know, as I’m an atheist…but what do they say? There are no atheists in foxholes. Or on scales, apparently.), already making excuses to whomever was weighing me (“these shoes are heavy.” “I just had a big lunch”) or talking shit to myself (“seriously? You couldn’t lay off that burrito? Lardass. You have SO far to go.”), making promises to be “better this week” and to really focus on harnessing my willpower. Christ, I get tired now just thinking about it.

ANYWAY, I digress. Not knowing my weight – it’s weird. How else am I going to know how much love I deserve, how happy I get to be? Seriously though, we put an incredible amount of emphasis on that number. We memorize it. We lie about it. Hell, I won’t state right here what I think I weigh, and I think I’ve come a damn long way. But maybe I haven’t? Makes me feel like a FA failure (a FAilure?) That’s another post.

So the doctor comes in and I’m pretty nervous. Do I go straight into the whole “I know I’m fat, you don’t have to point it out. I believe we can be healthy at every size. I want to make sure that we’re doing this together and that you’re not making rampant assumptions…” or do I just sit back and see where it goes? I opted for the second. Perhaps out of sheer wussy-ness. Perhaps because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. Either way, it doesn’t matter. She listened to me respectfully. I told her I started running a few months ago and did a 5K, and then got sick about a month ago and pretty much stopped running, hell, stopped moving because I was tired as fuck all the time and felt like hammered dog shit (not in those exact words, but I think she got my point). She then proceeded to basically say “look, you were moving around a lot. Then you stopped. Your body essentially experienced a light trauma and your knees are now all ‘what the fuck?’ and so they’ve gone a little haywire.” (again, not in those exact words, but I got her point) Along with everything else she said, she mentioned “and you have weight pressing down on these joints, and on your hips…” and you know? it absolutely did not feel like she was telling me my weight was the problem. She didn’t say “you have your HUGE ASS weight” or “your overweight body” or anything. She said “your weight.” As in, I have weight! Imagine that. Basically, I’m supposed to take it easy, do a little walking, the recumbent bike when i can, and take ibuprofen. It’s still very frustrating, because I feel like some of my agency has been taken away. I’m now at the mercy of these damn knees and I am all stoked to do the Bay to Breakers in SF in a few weeks and now that’s up in the air. I’m just super pissed and frustrated. Le sigh. But! The doctor’s appointment went well, and for that I am very, very happy.

I’d love to hear your happy doctor stories! The last post I focused on things that make me tired, and while it was extremely important to go there (and to read everyone’s thought provoking and awesome comments!), I’m feeling the need for some positivity. Adipositivity, perhaps? (NSFW! for those not familiar with her work!)

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17 responses to “the big visit to my new doctor

  1. Yay! for weight-neutral medicos!

    The last time I went to a doctor (to double check that a cough I’d had for a long, long time wasn’t a sign that my body was developing something beyond the cold that started it… and it was certainly nice to go home knowing my lungs were clear!) it was a doctor I’d never seen before. I had to fill out a new patient questionnaire.

    When the doctor came in to talk to me, she asked if my blood pressure usually reads high because her nurse had found it a bit high, and I said no. But the last time I’d had my blood pressure taken, it was a pretty bad experience because the technician had caught a flap of skin in the velcro and apparently not heard me yelling pretty loudly that he was fucking hurting me. So she re-took my blood pressure and told me with a big smile that it was ‘absolutely text book’ 120 over 80, so no problems there.

    Clearly she had read my questionnaire because she asked me some definitely pertinent questions (for instance, once she re-checked my blood pressure she didn’t ask me a lot about my mother’s stroke, but she did ask me a couple questions about depression since I had two brothers on anti-depressants and she wanted to make sure whether or not that was an issue for me, and she asked a couple general questions about how I ate and what sort of exercise I get), checked my lungs, and assured me that my cough would probably go away on its own pretty shortly. It did. It was gone about a week later.

    Best of all? While I was weighed and she did ask about how I eat and move, not one word was said about my weight. She did not suggest losing weight. She did not lecture me about the illnesses ’caused’ by fat. She talked to me like an intelligent being, and investigated what I was worried about.

    It really was a relief.

    Oh, and ‘hammered dog shit’ is officially going into my lexicon for describing feeling horrible.

    • I happily bequeath “hammered dog shit” to you. Use it well.

      Eeeek, skin caught in the velcro and then pumped up to high hell? That had to hurt so badly! Love the rest of your comment though! 🙂 Yay for awesome docs, indeed!

  2. I am so glad you went! I don’t have any positive experiences to share, but I can assure you that I do not take shit from MD’s. My Grandma was an RN and always told me the tales of MD’s drunk on their own power, so I’ve always been a tad skeptical. You do have to give yourself and your body time to adjust to new things and rest! You should get a massage! It helps with so many things, we don’t even realize.
    As for the weight thing? At one point I finally got the courage to post my weight online, even told some of my friends, but not my husband. That took a bit longer. You’ll get there. You’ve been trained/programmed for so long to see that number as something other than what it is. Just like the word fat, it is only a descriptor and no value should ever be attached to it. I don’t know my exact weight on a give day, but I’m about 300-325 lbs. And now? I don’t care who knows it! =0)

    • “You should get a massage” is probably the best advice I’ve gotten in a long time, and dammit, Ima follow it! I got a massage for the first time after I took the bar in 2008 and oh. holy. jesus was it delightful. I didn’t up to that point b/c I was concerned about someone being all grossed out by touching me (I know, need therapy much? : ) But WORD am I glad i went.

      I do get down on myself sometimes for not TRULY being out and fat (like, i’m less of an activist b/c i still have work to do? i don’t know), so I appreciate the kind words!

  3. A brief positive story: At my gyn’s appointment a couple weeks ago the nurse pulled out the large blood pressure cuff without me asking, and then pulled out an extra-extra-extra large gown, again without me having to ask. I was swimming in it! It was great! I was sure to compliment her on both, and to say something on an emailed follow up survey, so they’d know how good and unusual that was.

    • hooray on both counts! Also, I love that you took the time to mention it both in person and via the survey. I think it’s super important to recognize good stuff, esp b/c it can get easy to focus on the negative.

  4. Happy doctor story: I sprained my knee climbing over a wall (I climb over that dang wall ever day because I’m too lazy to walk around it, that day I was not paying attention.) When it keeps hurting after a week, I go to the doctor. Expecting the Weight Talk. Doctor takes X-rays, says someting about sprain and arthrosis (“and that at your age!”), prescribes a bandage, ibuprofen and gentle exercise. I, wanting to get the painful part over with, or just masochist, say, “What about my weight?” Says he, “What about it? Arthrosis is mostly genetic. Just don’t climb any more walls this month.”

    • “Just don’t climb any more walls this month.” Totally giggled at that (I mean, it’s not funny that you hurt yourself, but you know what i mean!). hope the knee is better!

      • It *is* funny. *g*

        The sprain healed completely (though it took its time), and the arthrosis is acting up only rarely and responds well to ibuprofen, so I’m lucky.

  5. More good stories: I have the ultra feminist doctor. It’s hard to get appointments with him as he’s very busy, but the other doctors at his practice are also heavily pro-choice too. He’s the only one I’ve discussed weight with though.

    I’ve been seeing him since I was 16 and wanted to go on birth control pills. every time I visited him to refill the prescription, he would say how silly it was I had to come and see him to get a refill – I was taking care of my health, after all.

    I’ve also always been a fat girl. I just realised now how different the nerve damage in my back would have been treated by a fat phobic doctor. “Obviously this is caused by your enormous weight! Lose some weight, fatty!”

    My doctor just felt it, disagnosed it, and gave me lots of advice on how to deal with it. Not once did he weight shame me. Even when I was a bit fucked up in the head about my weight, he would advise me to do exercise I enjoy, eat the foods I like, and just take care of myself. My weight wasn’t important.

  6. All I have to say is who is this doctor, where is she located, and is she taking new patients?

    Seriously, I’ve never had a doctor that didn’t insist on running my already low and mutilated self esteem already into the ground, to one degree or another.

    Congrats on finding a doctor that is actually human!

    • she’s in oakland, california and yes, she’s taking new patients! a big ol BOOOO on all of the docs in your life who have made you feel like crap. i’m so sorry! If you haven’t already, I do recommend checking out that link I provided, it’s a list of HAES friendly docs across the country (it’s mostly populated for the States, but there are some docs listed in NZ, Australia, Ireland, and Canada).

  7. I’m so glad you had a positive experience with your new doc. I know how soul crushing a bad one can be.

    I am so lucky with my doc. She was recommended to me about 5 years ago and we have worked together to come to a place of weight neutrality, with something that looks pretty much like HAES. But most of all, she is a lovely person, who cares about me as her patient. That, to me, is the most important thing.

  8. Pingback: trying to focus on being grateful | the taking up of space

  9. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with my GP. I think in the 8+ years I’ve had her as my doctor she’s only mentioned my weight once, when I had a blood test and it came back as being slightly high in free testosterone. All she said was “It could be because of your hormones or it could be that you’re a bit overweight” – there was no sign of fat shaming in that or a suggestion that I should lose weight.

    Furthermore, she’s a doctor who acts like a regular person (unfortunately I can’t say the same about some of the pompous docs I’ve had in the past), which is always a plus.

  10. Pingback: learning to be my own advocate | the taking up of space

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