My Banded Time

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fat Bias Amongst MDs

I know excess weight is harmful to one's health.  I know that carrying extra weight causes a myriad of health issues; but at the same time, I feel that when I went to most physician's appts as an overweight person; there was a lot of bias and discrimination and lectures.  I know my excess weight is bad but at the same time I don't think it should be used to explain away all my health issues.  This is not paranoia, this is fact:

1)  Thyroid- I told my GP and the Sleep Specialist that I was having a hard time sleeping.  Both said it was probably due to my excess weight and that fat was probably obstructing my breathing.  They told me to cut down on food and start moving.  During WLS pre op the tests revealed I had 3  large nodules on my thyroid that had probably been growing slowly for years and that could explain my apnea because they were bending my trachea out of alignment.  I asked to have my thyroid checked several times.  I had it checked twice and they said it was sluggish but not abnormal.  After the pre op testing, I had more sensitive blood tests done and it turns out my thyroid is not functioning properly.  The endocrinologist said while it doesn't explain all my weight gain, my thyroid issues probably contributed to them.  I've been to 3 physicians and they didn't notice the nodules, one of which is 4 cm and protrudes from my neck.  The endocrinologists says I've probably had these growths for several years.

2) Constant Coughing for 7 months-I was told that I had chronic bronchitis probably due to my excess weight which didn't allow me to heal properly.  Turns out I was allergic to the blood pressure medication I was on.  Once it was switched the coughing stopped that week.

3)  Lecture in the ER-I went to the ER one night with constant vomiting and chest pain.   The ER physician walked in and  told me immediately, "Mam, you are morbidly obese...You need to lose weight now!"  I was throwing up because of food poisoning but she thought it was a good time for a tough love lecture. 

I really felt that walking to a physician's office as an overweight person really hampered my ability to get more objective/quality health treatment.   I live in Washington DC too, not the sticks...There are a lot of really well trained/educated health professionals.  I know I deserve tough love lectures on weight...excessive weight is bad; but at the same time, I deserve the right to a fair and objective health assessment too.


  1. Do you still go to all of those DRs? INSANITY! Did you happen to tell any of them what further testing resulting in the REAL reason for the issues? Not the weight! It almost makes you want to start out every medical visit with.."I know I am obese, but I am having this issue and I don't feel my weight is the issue. Can we do some testing for..." Blah blah!

  2. Great post! You're spot on with this one! I do live in the sticks, and they're the same here - must be an epidemic! It is always much easier to "blame the weight" rather than take the time to dig deeper...

  3. I HATE when doctors try to explain everything away with your weight! I didn't go to the doctor for a long time because every time I did, I got the same damn lecture about being overweight. It's like they think we don't know it!

  4. Ugh, I hear you! First, I'm sorry that their inability to see anything about you beyond weight hindered your care. I have an infertility issue (I can get pregnant, but can't stay pregnant) and it's been chalked up to "maybe it's the weight". Maybe it is, who knows, but if all else fails that's always where the blame goes.

    I've noticed that a lot of obese people just won't go to the doctor because of this harassment. I just stopped putting up with it. I love my current doctor, who helped me go through the insurance approval process. She herself is overweight and we could have frank discussions about it without any holier-than-thou lecturing. For me, it worked. I felt safe and respected going to her and we were able to deal with weight as an issue without all of the shaming.

  5. It's too bad that not even doctors can see beyond what our bodies look like. Granted, having this excess weight is not good for us, but that doesn't make us any less human or any less subject to health issues that aren't the least bit weight related.

    Good luck with the Challenge!

  6. hi thanks for coming over and commenting at my blog..and how horrific that those doctors decided that a lecture would be more useful than actually investigating the complaints you had. I don't know if it is directly because you were overweight or if doctors do not listen well but I kind of had the opposite problem. Everyone danced around my obesity when I went in with one complaint or another and really most of them boiled down to my carrying around an extra 140 pounds. acid reflux-the weight. edema in my left leg (partially but not totally from my weight), high blood pressure-my weight. Two henias-my weight. Not one of the doctors even said maybe it was due to my weight. They just gave me compression socks, two surgeries and meds without ever saying a word about the weight related causes. No one ever said obesity until I cried in my family doctors office about how I had tried so many things and failed time and time again. I asked to pursue lapband and she was only too happy to help me with a letter of support. I don't know if this avoidance was good for me or not. So in the end we both had doctors who were lacking-I wonder if both are bad or both were avoiding?

  7. The problem with A LOT of doctors out there is they just don't listen. It doesn't seem like doctors are taught how to diagnose anymore. They treat symptoms...that's it. They spend 5 minutes with you and hardly ask any questions and write a prescription. They took one look at you and decided that everything was because of your weight. So frustrating!

  8. This makes me really, really angry! I saw a study awhile back that suggested that many medical professionals view the obese as "noncompliant" with medical advice which the study said could influence the kind of treatment that would be prescribed. So basically if a certain treatment would require a great deal of effort on the part of the patient, the doctor may not recommend it even if it would be the best course of action.

    What is really disgusting about all of this is that doctors and other medical professionals SHOULD know is that #1 - Diets don't work. Something like 2% of the obese lose their excess weight and keep it off for at least 12 months through diet and excersise alone. And #2 - Most people lose weight temporarily on a diet and then re-gain that weight and then some.

    In light of those FACTS, it seems really, really irresponsible to me that ANY health care professional would EVER suggest a diet. They are recommending we engage in an activity that not only will most likely FAIL, but will also cause us to become FATTER! Completely irresponsible!

    Of course EVERYONE, thin or fat, should do their best to eat well and exercise most of the time.

    A side note to this is that once a person has WLS, the medical professionals start blaming all their health issues on the surgery. I've heard of doctors saying the lap-band has caused various different conditions. Basically some doctors are lazy and they just look for the most obvious thing to blame.

  9. Wow, we have a lot in common! I have nodules on my thyroid as well, they were found before I had neck surgery in my MRI ( I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, but don't require medication) Also, I had the same thing with the cough, turns out it was Lisinopril causing it, I changed meds and within 2 days I was no longer coughing. Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog, I'm glad you stopped by and I glad to now know where you are.