There is nothing more frightening for fat folks than having to go to the doctor. Especially if it is a new doctor. Honestly, the one good thing about covid was the telehealth options. I was able to find two new doctors this way and then when I had to see them in person it was a lot less scary. That being said, fat women especially have it extremely hard when we have to deal with medical issues we are having. Doctors seem to think everything from a hangnail to cancer is because we are fat. I don’t even understand the vast difference in how the sexes are treated differently. Why do men get treated better?
I want to give you an example of what health care is like for me as a fat woman. The first year I was here in Massachusetts, I was trying to get all my doctors in line. I have an extensive health issues list and there is a list of specialists I have had in my life the 10 years prior to moving here. I needed a general doc, cardiologist, pulmonologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, dermatologist, allergist, and hematologist. For the last ten years, I had an MRI every year of my life, and once I fractured my back I had them twice a year strictly for my neurosurgeon. My neurologist would have an MRI done and cat scans two to three times a year. So, I was going on a year with no MRI. I was told that there were no MRI scans machines to hold my weight. I kept arguing with them that I had no problems with MRIs in my past. Then my therapist got involved and sent a link that showed there was a hospital nearby that did MRI with no weight limit. However, my general doctor refused to send me there. What she did was send me to a neurosurgeon. With my scans from the last four years and my new X-rays, I went into the appointment with high hopes.
My hopes were dashed as soon as this 90 lbs. soaking wet woman came in and looked me up and down. She didn’t even look at my file before she asked me about weight loss. I said to her that I knew I needed to lose weight but that isn’t the issue why I need to have an MRI done. She looks at my x-ray and while I explain to her the extensiveness of my back issues, she keeps telling me about her WLS and how she lost 75 lbs. She looks at the X-ray and tells me that she sees nothing wrong with my spine and it was never broken or fractured. I said if you look at the MRIs, you will see that my spine is crumbling and that there is a cyst that needs to be watched because if it grows and gets closer to the crumbling then I would need surgery. She says you don’t have a cyst. Well at that point I stopped talking because I knew she was crazy. So, I let her spew her statement, and then as I was walking out, I said, you know I know a lot about my own health and I also know that cysts don’t show up on x-rays. If you choose to only see your patients physical appearance, you’re just not going to have much of a career.
The fact is this woman represents a great deal (not all but most) of the medical community. I have been shocked in my life but her inability to focus on why I was there and only focus on weight loss was pathetic. I have had so many DMs from so many different women from all walks of life and sizes. The topics ranging from being refused to bias opinions. Even being denied due to weight. What do we do when we can’t trust our doctors?
Let’s first talk about being denied as a patient. Now this is where I may have a different opinion than others. I will rather be denied as a patient than endure torment. There are other reasons like this weight limit there because the doctor knows that they are not educated in doctoring for large bodies or is the office non-suitable (such as seating, medical tables, and equipment). Of course, we can argue that big bodies are the same as small bodies. Which I would agree with to a point. The reality of being a fat patient is you learn things like medication doses may vary, Surgeries may have extra complications. We also could argue that all offices should be fat-friendly. The reality is scales, blood pressure cups, sturdy medical tables, chairs, wheelchairs all cost more money. So, for some offices, it is not financially liable. That being said in a perfect world, yes it would be so nice if every office was updated to accommodate larger bodies. It would also be nice in our perfect world if there were laws, standards, something put in place that assures fat patients get the care they need and deserve.
This leads us to the question: what do we do when looking for a doctor? This one is so hard for me so I understand that it is nerve-wracking. However, the safest thing in the world is calling around to offices and asking questions. You don’t even have to give your last name. You just call, and whatever your fears are, ask. This is what I have said before-
- Hi my name is Evie, and I need to see (insert type of doctor) and I have this insurance…
- Assuming they take your insurance – OK Great, I assume you have an opening in this office?
- This is great. Ok before we move into my information can you answer a few questions for me.
- I am a fat patient. (Use whatever word you’re comfortable with) does (name of doctor) have experience with obese patients over 500lbs?
- Does this office have chairs without arms or a bench for sitting?
- Do you have scales, blood pressure cups, and wheelchairs that work for people over 500 lbs.?
These questions allow you to know more about what to expect. You can google and most of the time see at least the waiting area and doctors’ faces. Most of the time you can find reviews on the doctor or the office. It is good to remember this is a process. You don’t have to love the first one you get into. Just be willing to keep a positive attitude and trudge on till you find the right fit while doing as much as you can to protect yourself.
Don’t think I believe that is the end of your battles. As someone with chronic issues, with follow-ups and consults that are relative all the time. I know picking a doctor is only the beginning. Not to mention our actual health worries. More on that next time!
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2 thoughts on “Fear In Picking A New Doctor”
I am not overweight but I have a friend that is and I have watched her deal with the same things,as you. I, also, have had a hard time with doctors due to my own health issues. I have no problem reporting to Corporate, if I have to.
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I hope that you advocate for your self . I’m glad your not afraid to report! More people do that the better the doctors will act!
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