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Monday, September 21, 2015

A good reminder for docs

If you read my Friday links, you saw I posted this link to a story about a TV critic's reaction to a scene from the upcoming Dr. Ken series.  I do remember seeing the preview for the series where an obese man is sitting on the table describing his symptoms of shortness of breath and such and the diagnosis was "you're fat."   That scene got a lot of backlash, he was accused of fat shaming and the now controversial scene has been removed from the pilot.  I'm not one of those people who likes to jump on the "shaming" bandwagon.  I think our society is on a constant witch hunt to find something they deem offensive, call it "(insert perceived offense here) shaming" and want someone's head on a stick for it.  What did I think when I saw that preview?  As a fat person I wasn't offended more so than I was a little disappointed.  I remembered thinking "oh, so that's how it's going to be eh...going for the easy fat joke.  Bummer."  For anyone who didn't know, Ken is an actual doctor in real life.  Even now after his amazing rise in popularity, he still renews his medical license...just in case.  I read another article where he was upset that the scene was taken out of context because he later discussed the dangers of type 2 diabetes and such and I do wish it could be seen in its entirety.  But it does present the opportunity to open a dialogue about why it would touch a nerve.

I think why people were so riled up over the commercial is because it hearkens back to miserable experiences that many overweight and obese people have had with their own doctors.   For those who have never had the "pleasure", let me enlighten you how rare visits to the family doctor went when the Mr and I were 200 lbs heavier.

You walk back and try to take off every article of clothing, shoes, etc allowed by law so it doesn't register as the nurse weighs you.  Anything to hopefully not be the same or higher weight than the last time they saw you.  (Again, this is during the period we hadn't lost weight yet.)

The doc walks in, gives your chart the once over and asks what the problem is.

You describe your problem whether it be a headache, a stubbed toe or a hang nail and the response?

You guessed it..."well, you're obese and things like that are going to happen to someone your size."

Or "if you just lost some weight..."

Now, yes, there are things that are weight related health issues like the fatty liver that the Mr was diagnosed with that was the catalyst to us losing weight.  That is an instance where yes, totally weight related...a wake up call.  I get it.  No offense taken.  Done.

But when a doctor blames things that we know are not weight related on weight and basically dismiss your symptoms because they're too busy judging you than doing their job, it makes people not want to see a doctor ever again.  You can actually feel them checking out, they refuse to look you in the eye or try to rush you out so they can see people who have "real" problems.  They don't know what it takes for a heavy person to finally get the courage to go to the doctor in the first place.  Whether you've been to that doctor before or not, there's just that fear that you're going to be judged, not taken seriously or dismissed before you even see them.  It's easy to talk yourself out of going and often times you just wait until pain or circumstances get unbearable before seeing them.

This is where people who have never dealt with weight issues start throwing their daggers of "it's your own fault,"  "just stop eating,"  "just start exercising,"  "calories in vs. calories out" and all of the other idiot things people who have never had a weight problem spew.  Some of the comments I've read about this issue make me weep for the lack of empathy in this country.  Someone could easily look at me and say "lose some weight, fatty!" and I could yell back "I've lost 225 pounds so far douchebag, piss off!"  The point is, you don't know where a heavy person is on their journey.  Yes, some people haven't even started the process, you have to be mentally ready.  You can look in the mirror and know you need to do it but this is a hard mental journey first and foremost.  But there are some, like myself, who have come a long way and yes, still have more to go.  People shouldn't just assume because they see a fat person or doctors shouldn't assume based on the number on a chart that they're not trying or haven't lost weight already.

Now, I happen to know that Ken is a sweet, humble man who would never intentionally hurt anyone, I'm sure he is/was a wonderful doctor and I know that there are writers on the show who have never walked a mile in wide width shoes.  But I'm kind of glad to have the opportunity through this recent hub bub to remind the medical community as a whole that overweight and obese people are still people.  You can have your own personal opinion about people in that situation but don't make assumptions until you've gathered all of their personal history.  Even if someone comes into your office at almost 500 lbs,  making them feel less than their thinner counterpart in the lobby isn't acceptable.  You have no idea what it took for that person to gather the strength to make that appointment in the first place.  They are coming to you for help not judgment and if nutrition and exercise isn't your field...please don't do what ours did and hand us a pamphlet about weight loss.  It was literally a photocopy of something that was nine years old and had outdated information on it.  That's the same as saying "I don't really give a shit but this makes it appear I talked to you about your weight and what to do."  Refer them to a nutritionist or someone who can do an extensive session with them about what they eat, their weak points, where they can make adjustments, etc.  I know doctors are stretched thin and dictated how they spend their time by insurance companies nowadays so for the sake of your patients, referring them to people who can best help them with their weight loss efforts is most beneficial for all involved.

As for the show?  I plan to watch it!  I'm in desperate need for some new blood on the DVR rotation and a comedy is sorely missing from the schedule.  I've watched Ken from back in the The Kims of Comedy (affiliate link)  days, way before Leslie Chow was a thought.  I'm not going to get my undies in a twist over one joke and I actually feel bad that they felt any kind of pressure to take that scene out.  I'm in the camp that people are so over PC that they are killing comedy.  Sigh.

Dr. Ken premieres Oct. 2 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.

Have you had a doctor treat you poorly due to size or blame your problem on weight when it clearly wasn't weight related?

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Happy Monday!
    I haven't seen all the commotion about the show just one commercial. I once heard that if one looks to be offended, one will find a way.
    I haven't been shamed by a doc ever. What bothers me is when friends or relatives who are bigger than me dismiss my struggle. Just because I am thinner does not make me not obese or healthy. I don't understand that logic at all and experience it often. I actually say "it's nice for you to tell me I'm not overweight, but, numbers don't lie, I am indeed 50 pounds overweight."
    Enjoy your day!

  3. I haven't seen the clip - my dvr means never having to watch commercials - but now I may watch the show. I read an article awhile back about this show in development and then promptly forgot. I know that being overweight leads to a myriad of other health problems including some that don't appear to be weight related, but doctors need to treat today's problem today and help with the weight over a long term. My family doctor is more likely to throw meds at a problem (high BP, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.) than address the root problem. I'm fortunate to have good health, but other people that have weight related (or at least ones that are exacerbated by weight) that see him just seem to end up on more meds rather than receiving solid weight loss information.

    In my dr's defense though, he saw me for a weird rash on my legs some time ago and when I told him that I was trying to lose weight and wanted to avoid taking steroids for the rash, he told me to take the steroids to clear up the rash and once that was cleared up he'd help me lose weight. So basically exactly what I said - today's problem today and weight long term. Then life exploded and I never followed up so that's on me. I don't know what his "help" would have been, but he did very clearly make the offer.

    I'm with you in the "too PC" camp. I find it offensive that people work so hard to not be offensive. Is there a name for that? Or is it PC shaming?

  4. I'll be watching the show as well because I think he's hilarious. I'm looking forward to it. As for the scenario, it's really the "all your problems are caused by you being fat" reasoning that drives me crazy. I've faced it over and over. I no longer have a primary care physician. What's the point? If I have an ear infection, sinus infection or whatever, I can go to the Minute Clinic and get my issue addressed without having to get my triglycerides tested because I'm fat and that most likely is causing the inflammation in my ear. Uh huh. Right.

  5. I don't have cable and haven't heard anything about it.

    I saw a primary care physician back in February 2012 and haven't seen another one sense. She made me fell absolutely retched about myself and I was a perfectly healthy weight. I was judged for the way I eat (I don't eat a lot of breads or pastas and thus rarely eat whole grains and according to the very outdated food pyramid that's bad!) I have stretch marks from being an overweight child and she was rude about them. And just super judging. I almost cried when I left her office but I had to go back to work...

  6. Oh how I get you on this one! It's been one of my long-running complaints that doctors will just use the "fat" card without actually checking for other health problems. It's like it is the easiest thing to blame, and the hardest thing to fix so they just use it as a surface diagnosis and then move on to the next patient. So frustrating!!! Great post, lady!

  7. I've struggled with this for years, but I have to say it's slightly better with my current doc (who's a guy). He doesn't preach and while he's not happy with my weight, he talks more in terms of the physical toll and talks more in math numbers (pounds per pressure on joints and such). A doc I had years ago completely screwed me over by her guinea pig tactics and I still struggle with some crap she did. Needless to say, she's no longer allowed to be in private practice and has been in a boat load of legal trouble. It's humiliating going to doctors who don't see anything else that's going on with you. My last visit I just told the M.A. that I didn't want to get on the scale and she said that it was ok to refuse and never said another word about it. Is it any wonder why blood pressures tend to go up at the doc's office -- it's the damn scale!


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