I’m really good at speaking up for others. I’m still learning to speak up for myself. It helps to get super pissed. I was sad and upset at first, and while I still am both of those, I’m really starting to get pissed.
I had an appointment last week with a new ob/gyn. I’ve spoken before about my trepidation around going to the doctor, a concern that I’m afraid many fat people share. I really liked my primary care doc. The ob/gyn I saw? Not so much. I have so many words and emotions rolling through my head right now about how it all went down, and I’m not even sure how to adequately express just how awful it was.
In short, I went in because I’ve been feeling tired lately, and just a little off. I can’t explain it much more than that- I just felt like something wasn’t right. A friend was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and her symptoms sounded similar to mine, so I thought I’d have that conversation with the gyn. I brought it up to her and then it all went to hell.
She didn’t treat me like a person who came to her with questions. She didn’t even treat me like a person. She just went straight into the “it’s because your FAAAAAT omgobesityFAAATZ” spiel and never looked back. I’m not looking to be besties with my doc, she doesn’t need to know my life story and all of my hopes and dreams or anything, but a question here and there, especially during a first visit, isn’t out of the question. In fact, it’s expected.
She didn’t listen to me. When I told her that I knew I’d gained weight the last few months but didn’t want to know the number because I’m trying to focus on a Healthy At Every Size approach to my life, three minutes later she pointed to my weight on the computer screen. Huh, thanks for that. She also kept extolling the virtues of their nutrition program, pointing out that they have a great team that can help you (nutritionists in a group therapy setting – sweet jesus, no thank you. that may work for other folks, and rock on for them. not for me.).
Her: “It’s expensive but really worth it. I had a patient who lost 100 pounds on it.”
Me: “I’m not interested in losing 100 pounds. As I mentioned before, I’m more interested in keeping my health front and center, not my weight.”
Her: “You need to go on a diet.”
Me: “Diets don’t work; I’ve been dieting almost my entire life.”
Her: “But it depends upon the type of diet. What I’m talking about is healthy foods and exercise.”
Me (in my head after I left and got my bearings again): “Oh my god! You mean I should be eating healthy? Like, fruits and vegetables?? This is brand new information to me! You are CHANGING my LIFE!”
Me (in reality): “…”
It felt like she was tolerating me. Like I was an imposition and she needed to just get me over with and be on her way. Maybe she was having a bad day, but I’m not feeling that magnanimous, quite frankly.
Active listening, lady. Try it sometime. “I hear you and understand that you’re wary of dieting and all that the word implies, but what I’m talking about is …”
So then as we’re finishing up I have to remind her again that I’m interested in learning more about a PCOS diagnosis. I read that one test is a fasting glucose, so I hadn’t eaten just in case she suggested that. She did, so off I went to the lab (after having to find it myself, she didn’t even point me in the right direction), blah blah blood test, moving on.
I got the results the same day and then finally heard from her today. This is when the getting pissed off part starts to really take its shape. She writes (in short), “your blood tests are normal except for low ‘good cholesterol’ and an elevated fasting glucose, which probably means you have diabetes. See your primary care physician.” I freak out and email back, asking if this means PCOS is off the table. Her response, “you probably had PCOS as a pre-diabetic condition. You now have diabetes.” Literally. You. Now. Have. Diabetes. Now I don’t know about you, but getting that news in a one sentence email from a doctor who treated like me like total shit was not the kind of afternoon I had hoped to have.
I email my primary care physician and explain the situation, and bless her heart she responds back in under 10 minutes, saying, essentially, “um, yeah, you’re fine. Make sure to do cardio. We’ll test again in a couple months.”
Ok, so the problems here are hopefully very evident. Namely, perhaps an ob/gyn shouldn’t be diagnosing someone about something that isn’t in their own field house of expertise, so to speak?
Two notes about all of this: 1., it doesn’t matter if I had the most beautiful numbers on the planet, or if my glucose levels were sky-high, we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of our weight OR health. Which are, of course, two different things. And 2., I’m not denying that diet and exercise don’t have implications on our health. And as I’ve said before, I want to feel better, and I know that part of that means moving my body more and paying more attention to what foods I put in it.
Generally, I’m not the kind to share all of my medical-y business in such a public way, but I feel like these kinds of stories need to get told so that when someone else gets treated like an inconvenience, a bother, a non-person, she or he won’t need to feel like the piece of shit I felt like.
Now I’m off to write a strongly-worded email to the doctor and her supervisor.