Anyone who is my facebook friend knows about the crazy experience I had last week. On Monday I went to Provo for an appointment with an endocrinologist. My regular doctor had recommended I see her because of my history of hormonal problems. I don’t want to over-share but I have the following unusual symptoms:
1. Gained at least 50 lbs the year I went through puberty (the photos are striking from year to year)
2. Have been over 200 since I was 12.
3. I was an active child/teenager and yet the weight never went. I was on the swim team in high school and a life guard but never went below 200.
4. Have been diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 17 which can effect hormone levels.
5. Have other signs I won’t go into and recently had a bunch of blood work done and it showed some imbalances.
Given these conditions I thought perhaps hormone levels could be a piece in the weight loss puzzle. I was not looking for an easy answer or something to blame. I know my habits are the majority of the problem but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other contributing factors.
With this positive attitude I went to the doctor expecting to be listened to and treated with respect. Boy was I wrong. The minute I got in with the doctor everything was rushed. Even when they weighed me they rushed through it and didn’t wait for the scale to settle. (it was one of those old scales where you move the weights over). She said I was 287 but I know I am less then that!
Once I was seated she proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions that got progressively more strange. Without taking a second to LISTEN to the points I have listed above she asked me about my upbringing, what kinds of food my mother made for me, how social I was as a child, how active I was growing up. Then she gave me a huge lecture on the epidemic of childhood obesity and told me my mother must have fed me bad foods and that I was an unhappy child, leading me to binge eat. I tried to tell her this wasn’t true and that in general I was a very happy child and that my mother fed us good food. We hardly ever went to fast food and most meals were made from scratch. I also asked “if it is all my mother’s fault then why are my siblings twigs?”. This received no response but more lecturing.
Then we got on to my adult life. I told her I had lost 31 lbs and you know what she said- “I’d have to see a picture of you before?” Can you believe that? I was shocked that she didn’t believe me! Next she asked about my current social life- “Do your friends eat a lot of junk food? Are they all overweight?” I told her my friends are supportive and amazing, which produced a scoff of disbelief. “Do you eat junk food, fast food? I bet your candy eater? Are you a soda drinker?” “NOOO” I responded as adamantly as I could. I even told her about my no fast food pledge, but she clearly thought I was just telling her what she wanted to hear. Then she asked me about all of the diets I’d tried. I told her weight watchers, american heart association, slim fast etc. Her response was
“Weight watchers is the best.How long did you try it?”
“Around 6 months. I didn’t really like it” I replied
“Oh that ‘s not long enough. It has to be at least a year. You should do it again.” she said
Merits of weight watchers aside, I couldn’t believe a medical professional was specifically endorsing a company. Bizarre. Then she became more bizarre by telling me I should watch The Biggest Loser because it would inspire me to lose weight! I felt like saying “I have a blog talking about that show…” but she didn’t listen to a word I said. From the moment I set in that office she had me pinned as “another fattie trying to get an easy answer”. I’m sure she must get that a lot but in my case I was the exception to the rule. There are valid signs that perhaps a problem exists. And even if it doesn’t exist, I think my hormone imbalances are at least worth looking into. No doctor should assume the worst out of his or her patients and everyone fattie or not deserves to be treated with respect.
Believe it or not the appointment got even stranger. I have a birthmark on my head that guess what I’ve had since BIRTH! I’ve had tons of doctors look at my head over the years and never has anyone mentioned a problem. This doctor did about a 1 minute exam on me and then looked at my birthmark and said “Oh you should have someone look at that right away. I would definitely have that taken care of?” In shock I tried to ask why, what was the problem, etc and I got no response. I’m telling you she didn’t listen to a word I said!
Finally at the end she gave me a prescription for a diabetes drug which she said “would help me lose weight.” Of course, she also said “it has side effects like nausea and vomiting (maybe that helps with the weight loss!). I am tested quite often for my blood sugar and insulin and have never been high or on the edge of high. Never. I felt she gave me this prescription because I was fat and it would be the magic pill she thought I was there for. Of course, I have not filled this prescription!
When the appointment was mercifully over I left and noticed the doctor left with another doctor talking about “the surgery they had”. Clearly she was rushed and maybe that is part of her bad behavior, but I don’t think it explains all. This woman took one look at me and made her medical judgments right then and there. She refused to listen, she lectured, and she treated me with disdain. Thank goodness I am at a strong point because in previous years an experience like that would have sent me into tears. I felt so judged by her. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in a doctors office, or so marginalized by anyone in my life.
The entire experience had one positive effect. Earlier in the day I had been with my trainer and my swim coach. They were both so encouraging. My swim coach thinks if I keep up my current physical activity I could participate in a triathlon in May! I told him “I feel like I have just as good a chance of having a baby in May as running a triathlon! I can’t even run a lap”. Nevertheless, he believes I can do it.
My swim coach, trainer, family, friends blogging community, acquaintances, everyone, has been nothing but super encouraging as I’ve been working to change my life. They have all been the opposite of this mean old witch of a doctor. I immediately told my referring doctor to not use her anymore and explained what had happened. I also told my insurance company and got a different doctor to try.
Finally I called the office to get my records sent and complain. I still can’t believe the receptionists response to my complaint:
“We get that a lot” and then she added “She’s from the East Coast.
I told her that I’m from Maryland and folks there still expect to be treated with respect and be listened to. I can handle blunt, even rude but to be treated with disdain is not appropriate ANYWHERE! I don’t care where you live a doctor should never pre-diagnose a person based on his or her appearance. That is wrong and as an East Coaster I am offended by such a lame excuse! East Coast my foot!
Anyway, it was a challenging experience that made me feel uncomfortable, angry, sad and judged but it also reminded me of all the support and love I have every day. Thank you to all of you for everything. I couldn’t do it alone. (I’ve tried and it doesn’t work!).
Ps. Enter my recipe contest. I hope my list of comfort foods hasn’t dissuaded anyone. You can send me any recipe you think is tasty. It can be gluten free, vegetarian, vegan. Whatever. As long as it is good I will give it a try! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.