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I Didn’t Come Here For That: Advocating For Yourself at the Doctor’s Office

Yesterday I had an appointment with my primary care physician, a doctor I’ve been seeing for 4 or 5 years. Up until yesterday, I was pretty sure she and I were on the same page regarding my weight.

Narrator: They weren’t. 

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She does the exam and is inputting all of the information into her computer, verifying my history and medication, etc., when she goes “Now. About your weight…”

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Keep in mind, what I was there for had nothing to do with my weight. By which, I mean, my weight was not at all related to the issue at hand. In fact, for all of the times I have been there for health-related issues, my weight has never been related. I don’t even see her that often because I don’t get sick. The last time I saw her was two years ago as a follow up to my DVT and of all the risk factors in place, my weight was waaaaaaay down at the bottom of the list.

Doctor: You’ve gained a significant amount of weight over the past 5 years.

Me: I am aware

I am so lucky she pointed this out to me as I was otherwise blissfully unaware.

Doctor: Well, how do you feel about that?

Me: ……………

Seriously? Even my therapist doesn’t ask me how I feel about my weight gain. Then again, from the onset, I advocated for myself. I told my therapist I would not discuss dieting as a treatment plan. I do intuitive eating, dieting is bad for my mental health, and she respects that.

I looked at my doctor.

Me: I have maintained the same weight for a year and a half and after 20 years of yo-yo dieting, I am okay with that.

For a minute, I thought I had won her over. I thought I had at least convinced her to stop with this line of questioning. Instead, she raised her hands in a sign of surrender.

Doctor: And I can appreciate that, however–

I cut her off.

Me: I didn’t come here for that.

I didn’t come here for that.

I didn’t come here for that.

I didn’t come here for that.

I didn’t come here for that.

No less than five times, I had to tell her I didn’t come here for that before she finally dropped it. But not before she went on about “structural issues” (literally the phrase she used, as if I’m some dilapidated building) and told me about some woman on the east side who has “fought the battle herself” and how great her life is and she could connect us and ……

I get it. She’s a doctor. She sees my large body and assumes the worst. She thinks she’s doing her job. But I shouldn’t have to remind her five fucking times that I came to the office for one reason only and my weight has nothing to do with it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this from her, although, like I said at the beginning, I thought after the last time we had come to an agreement. APPARENTLY NOT. I’ve had her recommend diets to me, shown shock that I was a runner, and other incredibly size-ist bullshit. Before, I’d always nod politely and take her stupid pamphlets because I was too scared to stand up for myself.

Not anymore. Because I shouldn’t have to keep repeating myself. I shouldn’t have to outline my twenty year history of disordered eating to be listened to. I shouldn’t let a doctor assume that because I’m fat I’m also dumb and therefore don’t know what my body looks like. Clearly, I’m too stupid to know that I’m slowly killing myself (spoiler alert: thin people aren’t immortal).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on the hunt for a size-inclusive primary care physician because sometimes advocating for yourself means changing providers and I’m not dealing with that bullshit again if I can help it.

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2 thoughts on “I Didn’t Come Here For That: Advocating For Yourself at the Doctor’s Office”

  1. This is so disheartening & insulting & terrible, & I’m so sorry you had to experience it. I hope you can find a size-inclusive doctor who will treat you for WHAT YOU COME IN FOR – & I hope that when you leave this doctor’s office, you send a note letting her know exactly why.

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  2. I absolutely *loved* my PCP in Colorado. She never gave me a lot of grief about my own weight (I am 4’5″ and at one point weighed 155). She actually reached out to Little People of America’s medical advisory board for guidance on how best to help me manage various facets of my dwarfism, to include arthritis … I’m on a pain-management regimen. Even in this era where asking for anything stronger than Advil gets you screened for drug-seeking behavior, she never gave me grief about it. She required me to come see her when I needed a refill just so she had the paper trail for it, but otherwise, no problem. When I started losing weight, she was incredibly supportive. She was more excited about my first 5K than I was.

    In a similar vein, my wife is a quadriplegic who frequently gets UTIs. The doctor required a urine sample from her once in order to confirm the diagnosis. Once was enough for her to see what a headache it was and after that would just call in an antibiotic. And then there was the time she was getting in-home physical therapy after being in the hospital and bedridden for three weeks. The physical therapist wasn’t doing anything for her, but we didn’t know enough to know that. The doctor (former rehab nurse) did, and called him to rip him a new one and then hooked us up with someone else.

    Our current doctor … not so much. We found her when we moved to North Carolina by … basically, right before we moved, I pulled up a list of PCPs near our new home, picked five, and sent them a letter saying, “We will need a PCP. Here is what you’ll be working with. If you can work with that and are accepting new patients, please let me know.” She was the only one to respond. I like her well enough but she is young, meaning she is much more by-the-book and also much less savvy in how to work the system. We recently replaced my wife’s wheelchair and I basically had to tell her exactly what to say in her notes. Ditto for replacing my prosthesis (I’m a below-knee amputee) a few months later. We go to Minute Clinic because this doc refuses to write a script for a UTI without a urine sample … even *after* seeing what is involved. This said, she’s also very supportive of the running and of us generally trying to live a healthy lifestyle, but I don’t see staying with her over the long term. I happen to know our health insurance will be changing next year and will probably use that to make the clean break.

    With this said, as you might imagine, I have a long, long history advocating for myself with medical professionals, and for my wife as well. Sounds like you’ve got things under control, but please feel free to reach out to me if I can be of any service to you.

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