Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Watch Out For Fat Hating Doctors!
I have had good doctors over some of my last years, including one good doctor from Ghana who saved my life, , but along the way, I had the doctors who almost cost me my life. One thing I've noticed is the voicelessness I can still contend with, when trying to tell doctors, my body does not work like the norm. Thankfully I do have a nurse practitioner/doctor now who admit that I have severe metabolic and other problems and help me with open eyes but to get to better doctors took me a very long time and I still have to be careful.
When discussing a possible procedure with an outside specialist, and bringing up breathing concerns, I do not want it assumed that my body worked like other people's. When it comes to medical things, I have had to turn some treatments down, pray to God and figure out the best routes. However I am writing this article, knowing that there are many doctors out there that do buy into all the stereotypes and hate fat people. If you have one, run like the wind, because they could cost you, your very life! In fact if you are an overweight person, you better find out if your doctor will listen, if they devalue you due to your weight and more and what they think of you as a human being.
Some years ago I found this article on line. I was able to track down at least a short portion of it here. The doctor in question here, still is practicing medicine according to the link.
I found a story that can dictate the worse examples of hatred that could lead to patient harm. Dr. Martin is a doctor that writes stories about different cases he has in the emergency room. I am not sure if this story is an actual repeating of an event or an anecdote of some sort. Anyway you will see medical fat discrimination rear it's ugly skinny head!
The story is titled "Pickwickian Syndrome" and tells the story of an overweight woman around 280lbs and in her late 50s coming in to be treated for shortness of breathe. The lady is described like she weights 700lbs, it would still be wrong but you will see. "Gloria" is her name. As Dr. Martin checks her in, he asks a fellow staff member, "Can we get her one of those 'Big Boy' beds? The kind we used for that five hundred pounder?" It is interesting to note that he defines people by numbers. Can you imagine him asking, "We need a bed for that 120 pounder..."
His disgust at her personal appearance is not even hidden for the sake of the story but denotes a sick interest: "She looked pachydermish with the endotracheal tube coming out of her right nostril, a giant thick neck and a mountain of flesh south of that. Her legs were huge rounded limbs of tissue. I arranged the sheets to expose her abdominal protuberance." He refuses this poor lady even modesty.
He continues. "We have had heavier patients [one of 550lbs] but Gloria's short stature and Jabba the Hut appearance made her look more grotesque then the others. Clinical knowledge and professionalism aside, large patients bring out the voyeur, so it was on teaching rounds with the interns and residents. Everyone stared at her. Placing my hands on her abdomen...."
One cannot imagine a doctor taking off a sheet to show a cancerous limb or a gangrenous sore for everyone to have a look but for this fat patient this was surely the case. His attitude towards her speaks volumes at 280lbs she is far from the most severely obese, at one point in the story, they move her from gurney to bed, "Heavy" in capital letters he complains.
In one point in the story, an intern points out, rather stupidly, "Maybe she is just too lazy to breathe" but our anti-hero points out that is medically impossible. Gloria is stabilized and goes home and fails to lose weight on another diet program. Her failure is made quite apparent through the doctors comments "she was too lazy to continue coming". Gloria dies at the end of the story. Clearly more destroyed than helped by this doctor.
This is an extreme example of medical smugness and cruelty but I experienced many things along the same line. Being fat in the already cold growing crueler world of the medical establishment today can be a scary enterprise. The doctor from Ghana? He saved my life at 2am, when nurses because of my collapsing veins could not get an IV in for antibiotics, they wanted to quit. He came in, and yelled at them not to after a nurse called him. A couple years ago, I found out I have a heart condition due to the years of my undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism, in my memory, I scroll through the constant exhortations to doctors at a variety of clinics, in a huge Midwestern city, telling them, "I knew something was very wrong beyond just being fat".
I believe if I had gotten decent medical care, I would have even avoided disability, and other ill affects, medical, mental and emotional. Thankfully I do get some good care today even if it's after the damage has been done, but I have to even be careful now, there are many fat haters out there, and they will let you know in no uncertain terms, what they think of you.
One thing, don't think big city hospitals and clinics will do you any favors, outside of a kindly Jewish doctor who finally had some mercy, and took me pro-bono, and diagnosed my hypothyroidism, I stayed alive escaping the huge city, and having a small town doctor treat me for almost 10 years. A "center for advanced medicine" even massively failed me, even with an office specializing in one problem [PCOS] they missed right down the hall. With medical treatment I would lose 150lbs, going from death's door to where I have been for far too many years, still too fat, but definitely not in the straits I was during that period.
Years later I would get ahold of the papers from this place and they had the exclamation, "patient has doubled her weight in less then 18 months and showed pictorial proof" and "patient has to be lying about her food intake". Oh that usual canard.
I believe that there has to be people literally dying out there. I almost died. When you are almost 700lbs death awaits. I remember literally fighting, arguing and doing endless searches online, to find the reasons and causes why someone would be so overweight or gain so much in short time. By the end I was screaming at some of these people and no longer cared. I have gotten some answers, I outline on my blog entry "My 350-400 Pound Weight Gain".
Even today I believe the whole story is not in, though I saw different pieces of the puzzle such as the hyperadrenalism and got diagnoses that helped keep me alive. What is sad, is I saw this experience replicated with another relative, who died around 13 years ago, who was told he was dying from congestive heart failure. What was seen at fault? His weight.
He was never super-obese but by regular standards was very overweight or fat, ranging from 250-330 at a shorter height. My father was able to lose weight from time to time, but being unable to exercise due to the heart, weight loss was a frustrating enterprise, later after he died, an autopsy was done, and they found out due to a heart surgery done earlier in life in his 20s for an infected pericardium, that a huge wall of scar tissue and calcium had built up into a huge mass around his heart and around his lungs. For years he had been told he was dying because he was fat, the real cause was the calcium had slowly built up over the years and strangled his heart. Oddly there were times 100lbs in fluid would be removed from his body, but he was told, "you are fat and this is what happens" with the subtext, of "It's all your fault!".
So how often does fat hate, lead to bad science or even bad medical conclusions? I know from many experiences, that the blind eyes, and ineptitude almost led to me losing my life in my late 20s. And today, I know that given the wrong medico, or even more false assumptions, they could easily send me over the precipice.
Dr. A: I went to go visit her in a suburb of the huge Midwest metro city I then lived in, I was around 360lbs and had gained more then 80lbs in less then 7 months, and starting to get a bit afraid. She looked at my lack of insurance, refused me thyroid tests saying I had to pay 500 dollars up front to afford them. I didn't have it even being desperate and told me "You just need more diet and exercise".
Dr. F: She was a thin Asian woman who never looked like she had an extra pound in her life, who in 1996 when I had then reached the middle of the 400s, told me because of my asthma that Fen Phen would not be a viable option [Thank God! as I later found out] This was the only intelligent thing she did. Her only advice to me was "You need to do exercise even if it hurts and eat only salads". No blood tests were given though I told her I was scared because of how much weight I was gaining. I cried tears rolling down my face as I walked down the 6 hard blocks I had to navigate to get to the bus stop. Not having a car, such walks were a normal part of life, and getting harder to do, and doing nothing to keep the weight from coming. I couldn't afford a car or the health club she recommended either.
Dr. M: I saw him the same year, he was good to get antibiotics for bronchitis, and ran a small city clinic, his scale didn't work, weighing me around 100lbs below what I really was. I was told to just diet and exercise there as well.
Dr. S: was a psychologist, at a huge metro clinic, for the overweight, he told me I was lying, every time I showed him my food journals, and weighed me at 552lbs over and over. I figured out, that his scale didn't go any higher.
Another Dr. M. was an intern I saw at a clinic when I was getting near 600lbs in 1997. I found out my thyroid scores were abnormal on blood tests they had given me elsewhere, but no one had said a thing. He just brushed me off, I then went to the Jewish doctor and asked him to please help me despite no money or insurance and was helped with the early stages of things.
During the early part of this enterprise I had a job as a residential counselor and worked, but the insurance with its copay of 1,000 dollars was a joke, and my budget was so tight, there was nothing left after rent and bus fare.
These were just some of the doctors I saw, as I was in and out of the emergency room for severe asthma attacks and cellulitis.
What is scary is the medical world is getting to be a more draconian, shut down, expensive, failing place. With endless middle men waiting for their hand outs, how many doctors are "practicing" anymore overloaded with medical school debts and malpractice insurance? How many are even thinking outside the box or daring to anymore? I have noticed that the doctors who are creative or think outside of the status quo are growing rarer and rarer? Otherwise why do such insane things happen to me like being told to get weight loss surgery when I already have serious bowel problems? Those are interesting questions. There are some nice doctors out there, but what I experienced scares me to this day. One thing a person must do is be careful make your own medical decisions and what is best for you. I do combine myself some outside treatments, such as using colloidal silver on a recurring skin ulcer, to regular medicine I need to stay alive. I do have the opinion, the more you are left alone, the better you are, and not everyone understands some of my medical decisions but those come from a life time of learning.
Leave the ones who hate you for being fat behind. When I was young, it almost cost me my life. I fear things are only getting worse, as the brainwashed repeat the "diet and exercise line" and it keeps on failing!