This story actually mad me mildly nauseous. I just… my heart goes out to Drea for what she wrote below:
These stories are heartbreaking. brings me back to the time it happened to me. My regular doctor is cool…..nicest guy you can meet, no issues with him. The problem started when I was hopsitalized for diverticulitis. the first time I had the infection was in 2003. I went six years without incident until September of 2009. This time my doctor referred my to a gastroentorologist to discuss surgery. Again, great doctor, no issue with him. He recommended surgery to remove the affected part of my colon ( a little over a foot). This is where it all went to hell. The surgeon I was referred to was the damn devil. Comes in the room, doesn’t look at me, says I’m morbidly obese ( at 5′ 5″ 252 lbs he was right) and that although he’s a minimally invasive surgeon, i should be prepared to be cut wide open becuase of the excess fat around my waist.I sit there crying like a baby, terrified, and he just says well….you kinda did it to yourself. He walks out the room saying its in my best interest to lose all the weight i can in the next few weeks.
Fast forward four week,down ten pounds, prepping for surgery. The surgery was supposed to take four hours. After nine hours, I wake up to find out I had an active infection at the time of the surgery and they couldn’t reconnect everything. Here I am, 25 years old, mother of 2, with an ileostomy bag on my side. I was devastated.
After the surgery i was put in the CCU because my heart reacted poorly to the length of the surgery. For 3 days my heart rate was between 170-180 bpm at all times. The first day after surgery my surgeon comes in and tells me how in a billion years of practice i was the worst surgery he ever had to do, how i’m a selfish mother because i don’t take care of myself and i almost left my children motherless. In a room full of interns, nurses and residents, no less. All I could do was cry and cry.
It didn’t end with the doctor either. The nurses in the CCu were just as bad if not worse. After the 2nd day, my catheter was removed in an attempt to get me out of bed. By the way, he cut me wide open, from navel to my c-section scar, 29 staples, so i was in an insane amount of pain. The anesthesiologist had to come twice to bump my morphine up because I was screaming in pain. I’m no lightweight, believe me. i was 46 hours in labor with my daughter, no epidural. But this pain, was something esle. Back to the subject.
Once I was able to move around I asked a nurse to remove my morphine drip for a second while I go to the bathroom. After that painful five foot journey, I rang that nurses bell about a hundred times only to hear ( and see) the nurses talkin about me. One was like “oh I’m on break, she can wait” and the other said”well that’s what you get when you let urself go and then want gastric bypass”……WTF? Finally the b—- walks on and says sweetly what do you need? And i SNAPPED. “How about giving me my f—— morphine? I’ve been here for 30 minutes with no pain relief cuz you want to make fun of big people? Did you read my f—— chart? And even if i was here for gastric bypass, who gives a f—? Why are you a f—— nurse if you have no interest in helping people in pain? F—— B—-!!!!!!!” ( Totally not proud of myself but she had it coming)
I was enraged. Just becuase i was overweight she assumed I was there for vain reasons. Even worse was the surgeon who made it a point to tell me what a piece of shit i was inside and out (literally). He had no interest in curing my illness…..just degrading me. A few weeks later during my follow up, I let his ass have it too. He was actually proud of himself for “getting thru to me with tough love”. He got his dose of mouth, trust me but i had to get another surgery with him six weeks later to remove the bag. SO i saved most of it for that last follow up. Let’s just say in short…..I was escorted out of the building. He never saw it coming. he got it worse than that nurse did.
Now its a little over a year later (surgery was Feb. 2010), and it’s been a traumatizing experience. I’ve lost some weight since then, but I think back on it and it actually hinders my progress because i can;t get all those comments out of my head. My motivation was to prove them wrong. But that will do nothing for me, and they won’t give a rat’s ass just like they didn;t give a rat’s ass before. Reading this blog, I finally see the work I need to do inside, so my journey is renewed. I thank you for that Erika, I truly do.
Fat discrimation is so present, and even in instances like this where the emphasis should be on help, its only worse. I should’ve told him to f%$# himself after that first consulation. We, people of all shapes and sizes, deserve respect and care and compassion like everyone else. And if they, as doctors, can;t get off their high horses to do the job they swore to do, then its up to us to knock them off their high horses. Bet you he won’t be talking to another patient like that again.
I’ve got one more, from Adrianne:
I experienced poor medical treatment with an OB/GYN. He was extremely popular (it took weeks to get an appointment) and seemed really proud of the “thousands” of women he’d “helped.” He was recommended by my GP because I’d been experiencing unnaturally painful periods for months that she suspected might be related to fibroids or endometriosis and this doctor was considered an “expert” on the issue.
At our first meeting, he immediately harped on my weight and said that any reproductive problems I had were because of my “excessive” weight. My husband came for support, but the doctor said that he was glad my husband was there because “women should not make reproductive decisions without their spouses.” I was like, hey, nobody said a darn thing about babies. Plus my husband and I had decided long ago that babymaking wasn’t in our future. I mentioned that and he immediately pooh-poohed that and said, “You’ll change your mind but it will be nearly impossible to conceive at your weight and if you do, you’ll be high risk.” He also said that even if hysterectomy was my best medical option, he refused to do that on women as long as they were of childbearing age.
I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. He listened to NOTHING I said. Dr. Giggles had a better bedside manner! I should’ve walked away then, but I was so desperate to relieve my symptoms and he was supposed to be the “best.”
The final straw was in the middle of a follow-up visit, he said he wanted to do a uterine biopsy. He failed to explain why that was necessary but said that it wouldn’t be as invasive as a pap smear. Well, I’ve had those before and while uncomfortable, are usually bearable. There is a HUGE difference between grabbing cultures for a smear and actually REMOVING tissue for testing. It was terribly painful. When I started crying, the nurse that was present immediately grabbed my hand. When I practically broke it, she said with horror in her voice, “Did you take any pain meds? It shouldn’t hurt this bad.” I told her I didn’t know he was going to do this. She gave him the meanest look. The doctor said, “Please, this procedure used to require an overnight stay in the hospital. You should be glad you can go home today.” I had no idea walking into that appointment that day that I would be having a surgical procedure! Before he left, while I was still in tears, he instructed the nurse to give me a maxi pad, telling her to do her best to “find one that will fit.”
Needless to say, after that I went back to my GP and asked for another referral. My new doctor was so wonderful, she made me realize just how awful the prior one was and I got angry. I made a lengthy complaint to my state medical board and told them that I would follow up to make sure that my complaint had been taken seriously. They definitely paid attention when I mentioned that a surgical procedure was performed on me without prior notice. He received a formal letter regarding the complaint, but he was not censured. I don’t think he lost sleep over it, but it at least made me feel better about standing up for myself and perhaps if the next person he mistreats makes a complaint, there will be record to back them up.
Here’s what’s so interesting to me.
The stigma surrounding “fat people” in this country is affecting the quality of care they receive… does it ever color the context of the care they receive, though? For example, a doctor who paints weight loss surgery as being the end all be all of an obese patient’s problems just because that doctor believes that’s the only thing that would compel them to lose weight… instead of realistically telling them “Yes, you’ll lose weight, but to keep it off you’ll need to…” If a doctor believes an overweight person is merely slovenly, sloppy and lazy… do you think they’d intentionally change the context of the advice they’d give simply because they don’t think the patient would even bother, “with their lazy asses?”
I look at Drea’s comment, and the context of the care she received – a woman not there for any weight-related surgery who can’t help but be chastized and penalized for being an overweight woman who needs care – and I cringe. The care she received was as if she were a lesser than – she needed “tough love.” She needed “straight talk.” She didn’t deserve the compassion we usually receive from our health care practitioners. With Adrianne, it’s almost as if anything she had to say about her own body didn’t matter, because “she didn’t know how to take care of it, anyway.” And really, the commentary about child rearing?
I know there are sites like Fat Health that share these stories… but I feel like this still serves a place, here. How do we combat this? How do we deal with this? And furthermore, is there anyone out there with resources or advice on how to report and fight against this? Because the care that my girl up there received is… abhorrent. Downright.