Skip to content

Medical care as a fat person: the trust problem

It is hardly revolutionary for me to point out that doctors are dickheads to fat people.   I just want to observe breifly that no matter how prepared you are to deal with medical BS upon visiting a doctor, it still REALLY REALLY Sucks.   And part of why it sucks is that as a fat person it is I think even harder to just trust your doctors.

My boyfriend Mr. I who has congenital hypothyroid FINALLY went to the doctor last week.  After two years with no insurance and a sixweek wait for an appointment we were finally there.  He was finally going to get the medication he needs to feel fairly normal.  My optimism levels were high.

So it was pretty crushing to find out that his doctor spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out WHY Mr. I didn’t have joint pain, since y’know, he’s a fat fat fatty, therefore he SHOULD have joint pain.   This was heartbreaking because it meant his doctor was probably going to treat him like a fat guy instead of, y’know, a patient.  And it is frustrating because even when you are aware that this happens and ready to deal with it you still wish that maybe this time the doctor wont be a total jerk and you’ll just be able to get the medical care you need.  Maybe this time you will get medical care with out having to prove that you are indeed an individual capable of independent thought while simultaneously questioning everything your doctor does to determine whether it is motivated by an actual desire to treat you as a patient or whether they are treating your FAT.

But whatever, y’know, doctors are jerks sometimes as long as they write the perscription things will be fine, right?

So bloodtest results come in and they call tell him that his hypothyroid is sub clinical so they will not be treating it they tell him he will have “enough to worry about” with treating his apparent diabetes.  Now this diagnosis of Diabetes is based on one blood test, ONE, before which he had not fasted all night but had in fact stayed up until about 3am eating ice cream and drinking soda, and then failed to sleep all night.  The doctors then listed a ton of diabetic symptoms he should have, of which he has none, but his sugar levels are like OMG WHY ARENT YOU DEAD YET high, so we’re going with it.

The doctor and the dietician ordered him to eat no carbs and no sugar of any kind until he got in to see them. And even though this is probably a rational medical response to someone with insanely high sugar levels, as fat people it was kindof like “So, you’re putting me on the Atkins diet? Really” (I actually wrote a post over the weekend about this but since I hadn’t had carbs in like 2 days it made even less sense than normal.  The general gist, WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT TO THEMSELVES ON PURPOSE?  I had to start eating normally just so he and I would not kill each other, which is especially bad considering we argue about once a year.)

So here we are again, are these doctors (Totally different doctors by the way, from the first one he talked to) actually treating him the patient, or him the fat guy?

He’s going today to see the doctor and get medication for his Diabetes and a Glucose meter and then meeting with a Registered Dietician.  ( If he gets through the RD appointment without making her cry, I will be happy.  Reasons he will probably make her cry 1. he hasn’t eaten carbs in a week and is an angry panda 2. he went to culinary school and took a ton of nutrition and anatomy classes so really doesn’t enjoy being treated like he knows nothing 3. she proudly announced to him that milk has sugar in it as though it were not obvious to everyone, thus displaying mental weakness to the raging predator that is my boyfriend.)

I am hoping that these meetings will go better, and I am hoping that they will be able to discuss important issues like how his Hypothyroid might affect his ability to manage his sugar levels and how leaving it untreated may not be the greatest idea anyone has ever had.

I am hoping, but I am not hopeful.  I don’t trust these doctors because I don’t feel like they trust their patient.  It doesn’t seem like they believe or are even listening to the things he says.  It seems like we are just supposed to go along with them because they have the word doctor in front of their name, they aren’t trying to earn his trust or treat him well.  (The doc who told him he had Diabetes kept being all “I fell like I’ve just dropped a bombshell on you”  well maybe you should be a little less worried about YOUR feelings here Doc, hmm?)

I think people who are not fat as well as many medical professionals are unaware of the serious trust gap between medical professionals and fat people who’ve been told that their rash/pain/infection/brain tumor will go away if they just stop being fat.   Studies have shown that medical professionals do not trust fat patients.  But I think it is also important to point out that some of  their fat patients don’t trust them either, and for good reason.

Being a trained medical professional is not proof of infallibility or impartiality.  That is not enough for everyone,  some people want to actually understand why you are making this diagnosis, and to be treated like an adult.  Some of us want you to prove that you are right about things so that we know you aren’t diagnosing our fat instead of our medical problems.

Some of us end up wishing we had never gone to the doctor in the first place.

Clothing now available in “Non-Fat”

I don’t really know what CNN’s thoughts were when they published this article. As though it is somehow a REVOLUTIONARY concept to dress your body so you look less fat.  It is as if they have not watched any other TV channel in the last 10 years.

Oh I see, Charla Krupp has new book out called “Never Look Fat Again”  Because ladies, we all know, fat is the worst possible thing you can look.

And if you, like me are thinking “But… what if I AM Fat” do not despair, this CNN article has a helpful bit of advice for us:

But there is hope. She says even women size 16 or 18 can look their best if they make the right choices. Those begin with what’s under the outfits.

That’s right ladies, as long as we just “make the right choices” for instance choosing supportive shape wear “To smooth out the dreaded back fat that can ruin your appearance” or Wear long billowing sleeves to “hide fatty arms”.

I don’t generally have a problem with fashion books.  I’m not really into fashion, but some ladies could use some helpful tips.   (Clinton, Stacey, please call my Mom… PLEASE.)

But this book isn’t selling itself as a book to help you look better, ito help you put your best foot forward,  it is a book designed to help you avoid the dreaded F-A-T.

What I find particularly horrifying is the open acknowledgement that everbody has some fat. (from the book’s website)

The truth is, even if you do lose weight, and even if you commit yourself to serious exercise, you’re probably still going to have some flab. Even thin women may have hanging skin on their upper arms, tummy and tush.

SO MAKE SURE YOU HIDE IT LADIES!  We wouldn’t want our bodies to look like they might actually be FLAWED.

How many ways are there to potentially look fat, well a lot, also from the website:

The book is organized by issue, such as big bust, “muffin top + back fat,” and “Buddha belly.” While some of the topics may seem wacky at first (“Are your brows making you look fat?” and “Hiding fat with your bag”),

That’s right, thought you just wanted to make sure your skirt fit properly and was flattering, NO NO, you MUST make sure your eyebrows are shaped just so so you don’t look like a fat fat fatty.  Oh, And your bag better be big enough to hide that ass girl, or you’re going to look like you just don’t care.

Y’know maybe she has some great tips for dressing your body and looking fabulous.  But I can’t help feel like all this book does is plays on what society has taught every woman to fear, fat.  The worst possible thing you could possibly be.  (Oh except for the premise of her other book “How not to look Old.” BLECH)

I am proud to pay my Taxes

I was reading my twitter feed today and I was linked to a video advocating the Flat Tax.  I’m not totally sure about whether or not the flat tax is actually a good idea for the economy of this country, but what I do know is that the people who are advocating it are advocating it for one reason.

It protects the wealth of the already wealthy.

The comments are the usual conservative rhetoric about taxes, i’m paraphrasing here, “If you support a progressive tax system you are a communist trying to steal from me and give it to the poor you robin hood bastard”  (I often find it hilarious how some individuals with mid to low income will also advocate this point of view, based on the idea that they too will some day be wealthy.  I try not to laugh.)

 The illusion that if you just work hard enough you will be rich is a ridiculous falsehood propegated by the wealthy to keep the poor in this country from lynching them. 

I know I would never be as well off as I am now if I had not had the vast opportunities given to me by my wealthy parents.  To pretend that I deserved to go to a “New Ivy” school and therefore make several times what other people my age make would be lying to myself and everyone else.  Additionally I have my wealthy parents to help me buy a house and get out of debt when I have health issues or make poor choices. 

I learned, and I worked hard, but I will not pretend that my income is the result of some virtuous act on my part. 

What exactly are people going to do with this wealth they are so concerned with protecting for them/ourselves?  They are going to pass it on to another generation of wealthy people who will pass it on to the next, making sure that it never falls into the hads of the “undeserving.” (That is, people, who are not already wealthy.)

Frankly I find the whole whining about paying taxes thing dispicable.  I know it sucks to see a big chunk of your check disappear, or pay more at the end of the year (this is the first year in 5 I’ve gotten a refund.)  But we are so lucky to live in this amazing country, and we should be proud to pay for the privelege of living, working and doing business here.

I am proud to pay to provide safety and security for the poor and disabled.  I am proud to pay more to protect the resources that I have gained as a result of my privelege.  I am proud to pay to protect the safety of this country.  And I am proud to pay more than others so people do not have to sacrifice meals.  I am proud to pay my taxes.

Intersectionality Story Time

Hey kids, gather round, it’s time for Auntie Shinobi’s intersectionality story time.  Frankly I’m not totally sure what the moral of this story is, but it happened to me this morning, and it was a really interesting coming together of a number of different issues that are important to me.  (Eating, Racial Privilege, Women’s body issues, and yelling on trains.)   So I thought I would share it.

I was attempting to nap on the southbound purple line this morning.  I was sitting next to a young girl.  She was quiet and well behaved and I don’t know if she had a parent with her as I was trying to nap.  When all of the sudden the yelling started.  A woman near the entrance of the train began yelling about “Watching a young girl eat” and how the perpetrator should be ashamed of themselves.

At first I was confused I thought perhaps does she was concerned about some kind of pedo-feeder-fetish thing.  But then I realized through the very high volume discourse she was conducting that she was concerned about the emotional effects on this young girl who was just eating her breakfast.  (Which I think was a bagel sandwich from Dunkin Donuts.  Yum.)

Apparently our speaker (who I will henceforth refer to as the Duchess of Decibels because she was both impressively loud and very concerned that everyone know a lot about how important and upper class her ancestry was) felt that the woman was judging this little girl for eating her breakfast.

Further complicating this dynamic was the fact that the staring woman was white, and the girl was black.  (As is the Duchess of Decibels) The Duchess continued to upbraid this woman for several minutes.  She touched on a lot of major issues about race and the fucked up standards that white women apply to eating and how that little girl did not need to be given those issues at such a young age.  Her rant culminated in some major put downs that made the part of me that appreciates a well formed insult want to get up and hug her.  I wish I could quote it verbatim, oh to have had an audio recording going  but it was pretty much “You sit there in your business casual attire and act all upper class but really you are trash.”   I want someone to give this woman a TV show.

Of course another white woman joined in the fray, attempting to get the Duchess of Decibels to stop yelling.  I am not sure what she said at first, but she said something about language, which is interesting because I don’t remember hearing The Duchess curse until AFTER she was called on her language.   She said she had a 10 year old too, but pretty much didn’t get very far before the Duchess told her that she DID NOT CARE.  IF you were wondering what the Duchess things of what white women on trains think, let me tell you, she does not care, I know this because she told us repeatedly.

And y’know what?  I don’t blame her, I don’t expect her to care what a woman who was trying to shut her up has to say, nor do I expect her to care what I think.  But you’re reading my blog, so you obviously care what I think.  (Either that or you have been tragically misled as to what the content of this blog is going to be.)

So here is what I think:

I wish that this conversation could have been had in a different way.  I saw the Duchess of Decibels being spoken to by a CTA employee as I transferred cars, so I know this ultimately did not go well for her.  And I think she had a good point.   Unfortunately the way she went about expressing it made one question whether or not she was on drugs.  Some of her behaviors were very similar to what I’ve seen people on drugs do, but she was also very clear on some of her points and her speech was clear and not at all slurred.  So I don’t know, she could have just been someone who had had it up to heaven with other people’s BS and so she snapped.

And just like I don’t know what was going on with the Duchess of Decibles to make her so loud and repetitive, I don’t know what was actually going on with the staring women.  Maybe she was judging the girl, but she might have just been hungry too.  I did see her on the other train and I think she also might just be one of those people who constantly looks disgusted.  (This is a weird phenomenon, I had friend of a friend with this problem, I thought she hated me because whenever I saw her she looked like she smelled something unpleasant.  But it turns out that is just what her face looked like.)

But I did really enjoyed hearing all the pretentious people on our train car getting called out.  Because you know what, pretentious suburbanites are annoying, I’m tired of rude people and judgmental attitudes.

And I was really glad to see someone stand up for a little girl’s right to eat in a public place.  This girl was not fat, maybe a little chubby, but it was perfectly reasonable for her to be eating a breakfast sandwich on her way to school.  She had a right to eat and not be judged.

I wish Michelle Obama had been a fly on the wall during this encounter, so maybe she could understand why her obesity initiative might actually be hurting children.  This girl was just trying to get some breakfast on her way to school.  But (assuming the Duchess’s interpretation was correct) she was being judged for it.  And I’m sure that will not be the last time that happens to her or any other kid who eats something other than apple or carrot slices in public.  While kids do need access to healthy foods we need to not shame people for their eating choices, especially kids at such a young age.

B.S. A load that lasts… oh, just a load

So a study, the title of the write up: The biggest loser: Maternal obesity is a load that lasts a lifetime.

Here’s what they did:

  • Put presumably normal Mice on a high fat (Saturated fat or trans fat) diet until they were fat
  • Kept them on said high fat diet while they knocked them up and they had babies
  • Discovered that the pups of the now fat mice had all kinds of problems
  • Blamed it on the mommy  mice being fat

Quotes:

“If there ever was a maternal hex, obesity might be it,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “and as it turns out, even after the weight comes off, the biggest loser isn’t a mother, but her child.”

BRAIN ESPLODE!
Fortunately an earlier expert almost gets to the fat of the issue:

“Our hope is also that these data will lead people to consider the consequences of their dietary intakes not only for their own health, but also for their children’s health, and potentially even their grandchildren’s health.”

This study just really underlines the importance of challenging the idea that all weight gain is based on dietary intake.  The only way that the conclusions these researchers are making about the effects of “obesity” on baby mice holds true is if all “obesity” is achieved by eating a diet high in saturated fat or trans fat.  That is the assumption they are making here.

And it is bullshit.

This research DOES give us valuable information about the effects of high fat diets.  It doesn’t tell us anything about what being fat does to a baby.  Being fat and eating a high fat diet are not the same.

(2 blog posts in a week, I get a nap now.)

Living in an Alternate Reality

Today in articles that make you want to throw things (via skepchick) we have this article .  Warning the contents of the linked article have been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure among fat acceptance advocates.

To begin the article starts off with a quote, a quote about the most offensive sounding diet book I have ever fucking heard of:

“If you’re fat, it’s your fault. Stop blaming food companies and diets and look in the mirror. You’re the problem. You’re the solution. Grow up, get tough and fix it.” –Steve Siebold, author of “Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People.”

That’s right people, we’re fat because we aren’t tough enough or something. Since I thought it would be great if I got NO work done this morning I looked up more about this ridiculous book, an article here gives us this info:

As one of the top-ranked motivational speakers presenting to fortune 500 companies on the topic of mental toughness, he decided to “get tough” himself. In just 12 weeks, Siebold shed 40 pounds and his waist shrunk to a size 32. Today he’s in the best shape of his life and so eager to share his success with anyone struggling to lose weight – he wrote a book about it.

Some chapters from Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People include:

Fat people see themselves as failures.
Fat people are mentally unorganized.
Fat people quit easily.
Fat people see themselves as victims.

· Fat people lack hope

It seems pretty clear to me that Seibold is confusing his own experience with self loathing and fat, for a universal experience.  Just because he was a giant loser who hated himself and was lazy and unhealth and then got fat doesn’t actually mean that that is how it works for all fat people.  Some of us were always fat.  Some of us like working out.  All of us think you are an idiot.

From the first article:

So Siebold applied his tough love approach to obesity and wrote what he called the “Fat Loser” workout. He lost the weight and says if he can do it, so can you.

From the book’s webpage:

this book pulls no punches. If you’re emotionally sensitive or easily offended, this book is NOT for you!
If you’re FAT, this book is going to rattle your cage and make your blood boil!
And it should. Get ready for a 2,000 volt cattle prod to your consciousness. If the feel good, easy way to weight loss was working, you wouldn’t be FAT!

OH I get it, I can MAGICALLY WHISK MY FAT AWAY by HATING MYSELF. This guy is obviously unaware of the fact that many fat people already hate themselves. If self hatred and abuse caused weight loss there would be no fat people.  (And lucky for us it seems like you can get both self hatred and fat from your parents!  It’s nurture AND nature!)

Btw, he’s so persecuted he must be right, he got death threats after he was on TV.  I want to be very clear, I am not threatening to kill this man, I am saying that he is wrong.  Deeply, horribly, unshakably wrong.

But I can’t do that, because Seibold is sure we’re just all stupid about our fat, or we would already have thought ourselves thin, right.  The “best” part of the article follows:

But Siebold says overweight people are living in an alternate reality. When he asked those who were at least 50 pounds overweight and married whether their size affected their sex life, 90 percent said “no,” he said.

“That’s the level of delusion we found,” he said. “These people are smart and educated but delusional. Your husband doesn’t notice? Women would say ‘he loves me.’ I’d say, ‘Of course he loves you but do you think he’s just as attracted to you as when you were thinner?’ The delusions run so thick with this topic it’s unbelievable.”

His bottom line? The thinking is the cause. “Go to your doctor, get on a good diet and then do the work and get the result. The only variable is you,” Siebold said.

All those orgasms you’re having fat people, they are all in your head.  And by fat PEOPLE I mean fat WOMEN, because everyone knows that only women are fat.  (Which is a correlary to the other thing that everyone knows, which is that no one wants to nail fat chicks. )

It is true though, to an extent, some of us are living in an alternate reality from Seibold.  An alternate reality based on science that shows that diets don’t work, and that fat is largely genetic.  Sadly, not very many people live here right now, and the entire main stream media lives in Seibold’s world.  But I like our reality better, here, we get to have orgasms.

I think this guy could be a serious contender to top Meme Roth as fatty enemy #1.

Ew, Math

If you  had told my 14 year old self I would grow up and have a career primairly based in math, I would probably have rolled my eyes at you.  (Which I might still do now, I never really lost the eyeroll.)  At the time, I for some reason believed that I was bad at math, or that it was too hard or something.

I actually used a chart in my math teacher’s classroom to figure out what career would allow me to take the least amount of college level math possible.  (Lawyer.) So I decided on this career early on in HS.  (Only to later discover that I HATED being forced to write.)

So I found the study my boss sent me this morning particularly interesting, from the LA Times write up:

First- and second-graders whose teachers were anxious about mathematics were more likely to believe that boys are hard-wired for math and that girls are better at reading, a new study has found. What’s more, the girls who bought into that notion scored significantly lower on math tests than their peers who didn’t.

So really it is all my teacher’s faults that I didn’t like math, or something.
From Scientific American:

Although there was no difference among the girls’ and boys’ math improvement, the researchers found that the girls, but not the boys, whose achievement did lag were also the students who acquired math gender biases during the school year. In the gender belief test, these girls drew a boy doing well at math and a girl at reading. Moreover, these changes in gender beliefs were found to correlate with the teacher’s degree of math anxiety (but not her math ability).

Of course the way the study is framed “Female teachers anxious about math make female students anxious about math” puts a lot of blame on teachers and ladyfolks in general for having math anxiety.   Some of the younger teachers may have been young enough for “Math is Hard” barbie, so should we really be surprised that they have anxiety about math?

Which brings me to my next point.  Math is a skill.  When I was young I remember having the impression that Math was something you got, or you didn’t, but that isn’t true.   Math is a skill the same way playing an instrument, knitting, writing drawing etc are skills.  You get better at it by practicing and by using it, by pushing yourself to try new things with it.  People who are anxious about math will be bad at math because they are avoiding it, not because they have some “bad at math” gene.

People who think they are bad at math need to do more, not less math. Just like someone who is bad at guitar needs to practice more, not less. Which is why I think making early ed teachers take more math classes is a great idea.  (I actually think EVERYONE should take more math classes.)

What I think is really key about this study, especially for feminists,  is that it clearly shows that some gender role based behaviors are learned.  The idea that girls are bad at math is picked up on by students and affects their performance fairly quickly.

If it only takes is 9  months for a girl to learn the idea that “girls are bad at math” and for that idea to affect her performance.  How exactly are they supposed to avoid learning all the other little messages out there for them?  “Girls like pink” is the first one that comes to mind.