Two things today:
1. I went to my doctor for my pre-op appointment.
2. I heard on the Today Show that a doctor turned away a woman for being too fat. I am outraged.
Also, I am going to add some pictures of me in this post. One is very current. Some are from when I was thin, once upon a time ago in high school and college.
Number one. Yes, I went to my doctor yesterday. Friday, I received a call from the surgeon’s office that the insurance company declined the claim because they wanted a letter saying that I am medically cleared for surgery. My doctor’s office requires a pre-op visit before they will provide that letter.
I have no problem with that. So, I ran to the doctor yesterday afternoon for my appointment. She did a full check up, took more blood, and made me do a breathing test. Oh and weighed me again.
I have a funny story to tell about the weigh-in. They were training a new nurse, who was shadowing the regular nurse. She is young, short, and very thin. A very sweet person.
I stood on the scale and she moved the bottom weight to 200 and tried to get my weight. Yeah that wasn’t going to work. She was kind of shy about taking it up beyond 250.
I have to say, the other nurses have no such reservations. They weigh people all day long and can pretty much assess where the scale needs to be to get an accurate reading quickly. They can dispassionately take your weight and height and move on to the next phase without question, comment, or judgment. They see hundreds of people a day.
To help this new nurse out, I just moved it myself to 250 and let her measure the weight from there. Then she apparently put the wrong weight on my chart. My doctor came in the room and looked at my chart and had a confused look on her face. She then said, “Your weight was 247? You’ve lost 50 pounds in the last two weeks?”
I just smiled and shook my head and said, “No.”
We both just laughed.
Once we had a thorough talk about the surgery and what she was going to do, they made me take a breathing test. I have asthma. More than that, I have been diagnosed with pulmonary, obstructive disease. That basically means something is blocking my breathing. Specifically, the weight I carry in my stomach is pushing against the base of my lungs, crushing them and making it difficult to breathe.
To compound the problem, my father died of complications after a lung transplant. He had a heredity disease called alpha-one antitrypsin deficiency. Patients who have alpha-one lack an enzyme that protects your vital organs from your own immune system. The primary organs that are affected are your lungs and your liver. Damage to those organs can cause emphysema and cirrhosis. My father had both.
I am a carrier for the disease, but I am non-symptomatic. But because I have asthma caused by pulmonary obstructive disease, I get chest CT scans and breathing tests done every two years to make sure that I do not develop symptoms.
My doctor needed to do a breathing test to make sure my lungs can handle the surgery and the anesthesia. My test results were very good. She said that the results were stable compared to the test I had done two years ago. Still not great since I still have some trouble breathing. But good because my lung capacity has not deteriorated at all.
They also gave me a breathing treatment, which means they gave me a dose of albuterol using a nebulizer. That clears the lungs, but also leaves me feeling a bit light-headed and sometimes gives me a slight headache. I had to take a nap after the appointment I was so wiped out.
Number two: I heard on the Today Show about a doctor who turned away a woman because she is obese. As I said, I am outraged. Unfortunately, they did not elaborate on the today show, so I had to turn to the Google machine to find a story.
I found this story on ABC saying that ob-gyns in Florida turn away obese patients. And this story about doctors turning away patients that weigh more than 200 lbs.
Here’s what I have to say to doctors who refuse to treat obese patients. Shame on you. Shame shame shame. Shame shame shame. It may not be illegal, but it is certainly immoral. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
I have been treated badly by doctors because of my weight myself. I always come away angry, humiliated, and feeling like I have nowhere to go for help. What do you when you’re sick and you go to the doctor for help and they refuse to help you? What if all doctors refused to treat obese patients? Where are we to go for help?
I am very lucky. My doctor is really cool. She is concerned about my health because of my weight, worried that I was going down a very destructive path, and happy that I am doing something about. She has never refused to see me or treat me because of my weight.
This country is struggling with an obesity problem. We need doctors on our side if we are going to prevent obesity where we can and help us overcome the obesity if we’re already there.
To prevent or treat obesity, people need to learn more about nutrition and food, healthy exercise, and their overall health. For this, we need doctors to be our partners, not consign us to a permanent persona non grata status.
I know, the irony of it all hearing about healthy choices from a fat chick like me. Get over it. I know what I’m talking about. I have lived it. I am thankful for my current doctors. They are working with me to help me save my life. I could not do this without them.