Stigmas in the Medical Setting

Being a fat person my entire life I knew anywhere I go and anything I do there is going to be new stigmas that I have to change people’s minds about. What I am about to write is not meant to offend or make any fat person feel like they are less than others. I am basing this on my abilities and my life. Just because I can do something that you cannot, doesn’t make me a better fat, it just makes me fat with some abilities you don’t have. Trust me I thought about not writing this because I know I used to be jealous over fat people that had abilities to do things I could not. So please just read this as my story … Not every fat’s story. 

The first and one thing I had to hear from every new nurse, every doctor, etc. is doubt that what I was saying was, in fact, true or disbelief once I proved myself. It began in the ER when they had to clean me up after not putting a catheter in soon enough. The RN says to me ok let me get a team together and we will clean you up. I was on a lot of drugs at this point for my fractures and various other pains the fall caused, so, I didn’t quite catch her comment. So, can you imagine my mortification when 8 people push their way into my small room to turn me? I quietly said there really is no need for so many people I can turn myself to. Of course, they did not believe me and said well, they are here for backup. So, I thought to myself the proof is in the pudding, so I turned myself. The RN was like oh you can turn but can you do that enough times as we need you to. I said to her, I can turn over. I don’t know why that is so amazing. Proceeded to turn over by myself each and every time I would have to be changed. It felt great once all the nurses caught on that I really could move my own body. At one point I felt like the nurses that knew me and this “amazing” talent were showing me off. It was practically amusing when a new nurse would be there and ask others to help her and they would be like you can do that alone. 

All the nurses were so good to me. If you follow me, you know I suffer from OCD and most of that involves my own body. The RNs are not paid to bathe the patients nor do all the extra things like cleaning up your room after PT leaves it in a tornado aftermath status. However, these RNs on the floor I was on did and they did it good-natured and with a lot of kindness, all the while being understaffed. I didn’t have to go to bed one single night without being at least wiped down and putting a clean nightgown on. I will never have the words for how this made me feel. How it helped me survive. 

I was talking to the nurses as much as I could. I asked a number of them, how is having a fat patient different from having a “regular size human”? Most of them said they would have to think about it because they don’t really think about patients due to size. I had to wonder if this was just a rehearsed answer. So, when one of the nurses came in one day that I was particularly close to, I asked her how fat patients normally are different from regular patients. She said do you want the truth or what I am supposed to say? I said please tell me the truth. 

For reference, she was a very small African American RN. She told me that fat patients are normally unable to move their own bodies. She said a lot of severely Obese patients come from nursing homes or homes they have not left in years thus making them lacking even the bare cleaning a “normal” person would have. A lot of times the first line of defense for these patients is cleaning them up so they can be seen and observed. Is this the fault of a fat person? I dug a bit deeper. From my own experience recently with the prolonged hospital stay and the fight to get anything covered for home I have some guesses of why this is. For one, there is a shortage of hands in hospitals and nursing homes. Lack of workers that care and just see their timestamp as a way of payment not actually working.  Honestly, this isn’t even a new thing. From as far back as I can remember it has been the same complaint about nursing homes as to patient care. You didn’t even have to be a fat patient to not have the care you needed.

 As to the fat persons having not left their homes in years, why do you think that is? Fat patients have been overlooked, undercard, and treated inhumanely, and all illnesses are blamed on the fat. Fat people give up on getting help. After a point, not leaving the house is a better option. Self-care becomes less and less important until there is no way to save yourself anymore. Someone else has to do it, yet who is there to do it? I honestly get a little emotional writing this because if life had been different for my grandmother, she would have been in the place some of these fat patients find themselves. However, my family took turns being with her, bathing or overseeing her baths, weekly washing of hair, making sure she was turned, and taking care of her skin. An even more personal thought, thinking back to when I was over 700 lbs back in my 20s if I had not had my best friend, what would my life look like? She literally kept me moving, clean, and proactive with my health.

For all of those people that look down on obese patients can you stop and think about what their life may be lacking? How it is most certainly possible that the point at which you’re seeing them is the lowest of their life and you have this amazing option to treat them like they are human. It really opened up the floor for any human. This happens so often with “forgotten” people (mentally ill, old, fat, disabled.) How has it become that we are caring less about the needs of people and more about ourselves? Thankfully, I had nurses that really carried about their patients and made my life so much easier while I was during my extended stay at the hospital. 

If you are a fat person reading this and you need any help whatsoever for cleaning, seeing a doctor, or reaching out for help please feel free to DM me @findingevie on Instagram and I will try my best to help you find solutions.

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