Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How my Body Defines me II: My experience with Healthcare as a Fat Person

Hello,hello my loves!  Time for another does of how my body defines me and the way I live my life.  Not because it physically hinders me in any way, but because society sees it as a problem, and likes to remind me that I should keep my fat ass inside and covered up as much as possible. 

Healthcare is a deeply personal issue for each and every person.  You must be your own advocate, and now more than ever, must seek out second and third and even fourth opinions.  I cannot tell you how many people I know who have had serious issues, but who haven't gotten an answer until pitching a big enough fit to enough doctors and nurses to finally run a test that they never would have run.  Tests that came back with life altering results.  This is not the fault of doctors, per se, it is the fault of our medical system, our insurance companies, who take our money week after week and month after month, then refuse us services deemed necessary by our doctors.  Leaving us with fewer and fewer options, raising co-pays and deductibles to cover the little services we do receive and leaving us to have incredible debt just to stay healthy and alive.

This is especially true when you talk about a fat person.  Going to the doctor can be stress inducing and embarrassing for anyone, with any body type.  Then insert societal pressures to be thin, then insert all the assumptions most people (In my experience) have about fat people and their health.  (Like the person at work last week who was positive I must have diabetes based solely on the fact that I am fat.  I don't.)

When you go to the doctor one of the first things they do is ask weigh you.  As a fat person, even one who is happy with themselves and their life, this can be incredibly stressful.  Each click of the slide moving along the bar denoting the physical poundage of your body feels like a judgement.  then that number gets denoted in your chart, forever.  This number will follow you through all your life to each and every doctor you ever visit. This already seems pretty bad right?  Sometimes it gets worse.  

Sometimes, you become just the number on the scale.  You are a Fat Person, not a person who is fat.  There is a difference.  Fat Person denotes your fatness as what you are, instead of being a person, or even a patient first.  This fatness starts to define you, even in the eyes of medical professionals.  The answer to each an every ailment becomes "lose weight".  Regardless of family medical history, or even your own medical history.  Your back hurts?  Lose weight, no it doesn't matter that you got a sports related injury several years ago, even if you weren't fat then.  Obviously you just need to lose weight.  What's that?  You have conditions that prevent you from losing weight normally?  Well, lose weight and i bet those go away too! 

This is not always the case.  I have a thyroid disorder.  Yes, this can improve with weight loss, but being fat didn't cause the condition, it is a symptom of it.  In addition, I probably have Hashimotos disease.  An auto immune disorder that is genetic, both my mother and my aunt have it, and my grandfathers condition is probably caused by it as well.  I don't know for sure because my doctor hasn't bothered to test for it, because clearly if I would just lose weight it would get better.  I suffer from anxiety/depression.  This is not caused by being fat, my fatness is a symptom if it.  This is another genetic disorder.  My Great Grandmother, Grandmother, Aunt, Mother and I all suffer (suffered int he case of my GG) from it.  my mother and Aunt are both thin, and always have been, my great grandmother was never fat in her life, and yet it affected her since before it was something you were able to diagnose and treat.

The best part?  Most anti-depressants have a side effect, weight gain.  So, be depressed, gain weight.  go on anti-depressants, gain weight!  Awesome how that works huh?    in fact my particular brand of mood stabilizer has a side effect of "hypothyroidism" which is a problem I already have!  So I'm in a great mood, but my body isn't using energy properly, so I am completely exhausted all the time.  Se we up my thyroid meds and get no improvement, but lets not change the medicine that's making you so tired, because it works so well  for you.  It's a vicious cycle.  So I don't go back to the doctor for far too long, run out of meds and don't take them form months, causing me to be fucking crazy, until my husband points it out and makes me go back.  

So the anxiety starts until I go back and get on the scale, and become a number again.  Where I voice my concerns and get told that I don't know what I'm talking about, of course my medicine works right, and that if I would only lose weight...

It's that time again, I have been of my meds for a few months and the anxiety/depression has me in full on freak out mode.  I currently don't feel good enough for anything, and making simple decisions like which socks to wear stress me out.  My thyroid is completely out of whack and I all I want to do is lay in bed or on the couch all day.  It has literally taken me an entire day to write this, because I cant be bothered for more than 10 minutes at a time.  I am shocked that I got this far.  

At my next doctors visit  I will refuse to be weighed.  did you know that was a thing?  I didn't until Lesley told me in her article that I could in fact decide my treatment, including whether or not to be weighed.  I will refuse to be weighed and if they won't treat me, so be it.  I think I need a new doctor anyway.  I will make them focus on the issues I want to have treated.  At this point I want to treat the depression and the thyroid disorder, including finding out it I do have Hashimotos Disease.  It does more than attack your thyroid, it can cause vitamin deficiencies and an intolerance to gluten.  Which would explain several other symptoms I seem to have with no rational explanation.  I may have to see a specialist for that, and that's okay.  I want to get a new mood stabilizer that wont exacerbate my other conditions.  I would love to be in a good mood and have the energy to function at the level I should be able to with balanced numbers.  

Once I get those issues under control we can move on to the next items on the list, even if that includes some serious talk about my weight.  If these issues are under control I will have the energy and wherewithal to deal with it.  In addition, I have risk factors in my family history that do advocate for me to be slimmer.  But I don't just want to hear "lose weight".  I want to hear what you want me to do, I want you to refer me to a nutritionist, I want some assistance!  Believe me if it was as easy as "lose weight" I would have done it already, just to save myself the sidelong glances and judgement.  Sad but true.  

I am fat, I deserve respect, I deserve healthcare, I deserve to be treated as more than a number.  I am more than a number on a scale.  Well, lets see what my next visit brings, shall we?

PS~  anyone in the Orlando area with doctor suggestions would be awesome!  Leave it in the comments!

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