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Old 01-19-2010, 11:02 AM   #1
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Default Doctor Anxiety

I haven't had a general physical appointment with a doctor since I was 15. I'm 23 now and have an appointment with my primary care physician for just that next week, and I'm terrified.

I have to go. I have gallstones (diagnosed at an urgent care clinic right before the holidays) and need her referral to a surgeon and there was no way to get a first appointment with her without a physical, but I want nothing more than to run in the other direction.

The last general physician I saw back when I was 15 and somewhere around 170 pounds spent the vast majority of the appointment scolding me about my weight - and I was there for a sports physical so I could play softball. I cried for the rest of the afternoon.

I've never met or even talked to the doctor I'm seeing next week (insurance assigned her based on location), and I am imagining the worst. I've lost 47 pounds, but she's never seen me before, so she won't even know. And I'm scared that if I tell her I have, she won't believe me.

I know it's stupid - I know that my weight does not define my worth. In the last few months, I've learned to not feel judged at the gym or even in a yoga class when I struggle with plank or downward dog, but I still can't shake the horror-inducing feeling of being judged at the doctor's.

Any advice on chilling me out or how to deal with any of her potential comments is much appreciated.
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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I think things have changed a lot recently. I have had appointments for a physical and ob/gyn and mammogram and teeth cleaning in the last 6 months. Everyone I saw was respectful, polite and professional. Your weight will probably come up since weight affect gall stones and the doctor will have to talk about that with you but you can expect the doctor to be respectful and to believe you about your weight loss. One thing that may help is writing down all your questions and current information before going so that nerves won't keep you from getting the most from the visit. Write down everything that happened during your gall stone attack and all other gall bladder incidents. Write down your current exercise and eating plans and a history of your weight over the last few months. You will feel confident showing the doctor this information.

I know you can do this and it will ultimately be good for you.
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:22 AM   #3
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I would be pro-active. I'd bring up the weight issue before she had a chance to. Tell her that you know you are carrying extra weight, but that you are working on it, include how much you have lost so far and a bit about what you are doing to make that happen. If you want you could ask her if she has any advice to help support your plan. I just had to have a new doc recently since one of my docs separated from the air force and moved to Texas. This is what I did with him and it worked. I did not get any lectures or anything. He was very positive about my weight loss. All he did was suggest that I take a multi-vitamin because he had missed it on the list of meds I am taking. When I pointed that out he said, "ok then" and moved on with the exam. Now, you may not be as lucky with your doc, but I think being up front about it probably gives you the best chances. Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:03 PM   #4
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Oh Emily, don't worry! I managed to avoid seeing a doctor for 19 years because of fear of being yelled at about my weight. The last time I had gone at 18, I had gotten a major unpleasant lecture about my weight. The fear ended up taking on a life of its own. I finally decided I couldn't avoid it any longer and went. I was so nervous, I was having nightmares in the days before and threw up on the way to the doctor's office.

And you know what? It was FINE!!! I was at my heaviest, embarrassed, expecting to be yelled at, and when I told her how nervous I was, how long it had been, and that I was there because I wanted to take control of my health and lose the weight, she could not have been nicer and more understanding.

When I left, all I could think about was first how proud I was of the fact that I finally did it and also how easy it was. What was I so worried about? I think letting her know what I was feeling right up front set the tone and she made sure to make it a bearable appointment. When I went back the second time and had lost 75 pounds, she practically did a cheer for me she was so amazed and happy. I no longer fear going. I am actually looking forward to the next visit so I can show her that I've lost more! That is a huge change from the person who refused to go for 19 years.

You can do it! Tell the doctor up front about how you are feeling and about your terrific progress. I bet they will be really proud of you. And you will get the care for your gallbladder you need, which is the important thing.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:28 PM   #5
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You are doing a good thing having a physical. I like the idea of starting out with your recent success with weight loss. Doctors are very very used to seeing patients that have challenges in their lifestyles...weight loss, smoking, cholesterol. They are not there to judge....but, to try and help. See if you like this doctor. If not...you can find one that you do like.
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Old 01-19-2010, 12:55 PM   #6
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Thank you all so much for your kind words. I definitely think being up front about the weight and my nerves will help the whole visit.

CLCSC145, it's so nice to know I'm not alone in my fears! I only hope my visit goes half as well as your initial one!
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:16 PM   #7
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Emily,

Your doctor will be thrilled to see someone who is taking charge of her health. Please don't worry!

You would be surprised at how many people come to the doctor unwilling to make any lifestyle changes-- when you explain to your doctor that you've been losing weight she'll be thrilled.

Also, just in case you did not know, rapid weight loss often causes gall stones, so your doctor will need and want to know that piece of information.

Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2010, 01:36 PM   #8
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I was like that too, until a friend of mine said "doctors see everyone naked, young old fat thin, they don't even notice anymore" lol and that helped! Besides, you can't DIE from embarassment, but not getting medical advice and attention for 20 years CAN kill you!

heh, my Dr. used to get annoyed that i was 300lbs. but my cholesterol and BP were totally fine LOL She's very happy that 1/3 of me is GONE now!
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Old 01-19-2010, 07:18 PM   #9
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There is a 99% chance that everything will be fine, but if that 1% comes up and the doctor is rude to you, get up and leave. Remember, you are in control here and if the doctor IS a jerk, it's his/her fault for being a jerk, not your fault for being overweight.

I don't think anything like this will happen--the vast, vast majority of doctors are good people--but I have the same fear, and it makes me feel better if I remember that I am in charge and that I am not trapped there. You can always leave, and **** what they think about it. The insurance company can find you someone else.
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Old 01-20-2010, 12:09 PM   #10
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last spring I had a check up for the first time in years. embarrassing to admit that, but true. I was anxious.

the doc said to me he how unusual it was I had basically no health problems or complaints I needed to bring up with him. after he weighed me, he said for quality of life, I might want to consider dropping weight; I told him I was working on it, we discussed diet for a few minutes. my blood pressure and cholesterol, thank buddha, all came out with healthy numbers.

I agree that doctors see many large sized patients now. maybe an older physician would feel more comfortable in the role of scolding a young teen, you know, than when you go in as an adult facing an adult.
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Old 01-20-2010, 01:52 PM   #11
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Emily...thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this issue to light. I have the same fears and have neglected going to the doctor for years now. I have known inside that this isn't very good...but couldn't bring myself to go. Thank you all for your wonderful advice. YOU have inspired me to face my fears and schedule an appointment as well.

Just on a side note - it cracks me up to think that I was a lurker on this forum for years but never signed up because I didn't think that joining could actually help...I needed to focus my energy on "real things"...aka exercise and diet. In two short weeks I have made huge steps for my health solely because of inpiration from this forum. Signing up has actually turned into one of the best "health steps" that I have ever taken. You all rock
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:16 PM   #12
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Whenever I go see my GP, *she* talks to *me* about how she'd like to drop 20 pounds, but it's really hard, not getting any younger, etc. It only comes up in the context of my own weight loss struggles, but it makes me feel a lot better to know that she knows what it's like.

My point is: Try not to pre-judge. Could be your doctor will be fantastic and understanding. And I agree that you should tell her you've been working on weight loss. If nothing else, it's an important part of your medical history that she should be aware of.
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Old 01-20-2010, 03:31 PM   #13
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Old 01-20-2010, 04:03 PM   #14
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Doctors should never scold (trust me, I'm a doctor). They are not taught to do so. They behave that way because of their own biases and insecurities and inability to help folks deal with behavior change productively.

I'm only chiming in to bolster your confidence to go and be proud of what you have already accomplished. Should your physician address your weight - and a really good PCP will bring it up - tell her what you are doing, how much you have lost, thank her for her concern, and ignore anything negative she might say.

I'm doubly embarrassed to see docs because I am obese and should know better than to yo-yo, but knowing doesn't change behavior. I went through gallbladder surgery myself just 4 months ago and had to meet a new surgeon. I chose to address my fatness first and ask how it might affect the surgery. She laughed and told me I wasn't that fat (how sweet and what a lie!). We did discuss possible increased complications from the surgery due to my BMI > 40 at that time but they were much less than waiting for me to have major problems from my gallstones. FYI, I'm doing great now - surgery itself was a breeze.

All this to say - be proactive in discussing your weight, don't take crap from your doctor(s) about your weight, and have the surgery done when it is indicated.


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Old 01-20-2010, 06:16 PM   #15
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Just another voice here supporting the pro-active advice.

We don't have the same system of going for physicals, here in the UK, wish we did. However, when I saw a doctor recently, for my annual meds review, I told her about my yoyo weight, tendency to depression and so on. I made a point of telling her what I'd achieved, both in the past and in the present, and she was very positive. She referred me to their weight nurse, and when I went to see her, she was also very respectful, and helpful! again, I told her my history first of all.

Getting in first with what you've achieved is a great confidence booster!
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