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Afraid of the doctor

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Old 11-15-2006, 02:17 AM   #1
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Unhappy Afraid of the doctor

Hi everyone,

I could really use your experiences and advice. I am very embarrassed to admit this, and I know it is extremely dangerous, but I am horribly afraid of going to see the doctor. It's been like 15 years since I've been to anyone other than the dentist. I know. I can't believe it even as I typed that number. Most of it has to do with my weight and shame about my body. What if the gown doesn't fit? What if they yell at me for my weight or for not seeing a doctor? The humiliation of a stranger seeing me naked makes me break out in a cold sweat. What if they find something terrible wrong with me? It's not at all logical-- something could be wrong with me whether they find it or not, but my heart is pounding just thinking about it. I probably have high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes and (I strongly suspect, PCOS) or something. And you'd think that would be enough to force me to get checked. Instead it makes me not want to go all the more, which makes no sense whatsoever.

I cry whenever I think about making an appointment. I went to a psychologist about low-self esteem and depression and she told me to go get anti-depressants. When I told her I had a huge phobia about going to the doctor (hoping she could offer some help), she literally rolled her eyes at me, told me to get over it because I was being irrational, and said I had to make an appointment before we met the next week. I never went back.

Obviously, I don't have a doctor, but I know I need to try. So here are some of my questions I'd be really interested in your input on:

1) Do you worry about going to the doctor with your obesity? Are they kind to you? How do they address your weight issues?

2) Have you had bad doctor experiences and how did you deal with it?

3) What kind of doctor would you suggest I look for (I feel really stupid for not knowing), an internist? family practice? general practioner? I don't really know what the difference is.

4) Are there doctors out there that specialize in obese patients who won't push weight-loss surgery? I've tried to do some research on the internet, but most obesity doctors I found seem to focus on gastric bypass, which is not the direction I want to go.

Thanks in advance. It feels better just letting my secret out of the bag.
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:25 AM   #2
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Hi,

While I don't have the answers to all of your questions, I can tell you that you aren't alone. At 330 pounds, I never went to the dr. I was terrified of the whole experience. There's no easy way to deal with it, except to just do it. I did find that my family doctor that I took the kids to was very nice and very supportive. He didn't belittle me or make me feel bad. I know I was lucky and that not everyone has the same experience. It isn't easy, but a big part of our weightloss journey is about getting healthier. Do you have a local Y or gym that can at least check things like your blood pressure? If you don't want to go to the dr., that might be a good place to start.

You're already one step ahead of me, I wouldn't go to the dentist either. I was afraid of not fitting in the chair. I didn't get my hair cut either, because I was afraid that I was too heavy for the chair to lift up. It's amazing the things we can think of, and the things that keep us tied down.

Just take one step at a time and know that you aren't alone.
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:32 AM   #3
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I would start with a general practitioner. They could evaluate and send you to an internist or specialist if they felt you warranted it. If you have any indictation that you may be diabetic or have PCOS then you need to be seen, or hypertension either. Your health is too important to ignore. I have had some doctors complain about my weight. I've had others who didn't say a word. (which was far worse, because I was on diabetes meds, blood pressure meds and all kinds of other meds). My weight was causing me severe problems and decreasing my quality and longevity of life. I have never had any doctor suggest gastric bypass. Quite the opposite, they all refused to give me diet pills and suggested I start walking and eating healthier. You could always ask your doctor for a referral to an obesity specialist if you feel you need that.

As for bad experiences. I thought I had a bad one with my hepatologist. But, in fact it saved my life. He made me see that the obesity was making me so much sicker than I had to be. He did make me cry about my weight, which I was angry over. I got over it and did something about it. Now, when I see him, he's ecstatic with my progress. I didn't want to hear what he had to say at first, but I fully respect now that he was obligated to tell me. Being gentle wasn't his style. Either way, it worked.
Please don't ignore your health, see a doctor soon. Also, seeing a Dr. doesn't always mean taking your clothes off. I've seen many without getting undressed. Only my OB /OYN dr. makes me take my clothes off.
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:40 AM   #4
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I am not a fan of doctors myself, but they are a necessary evil. I have beat the doctors to the punch, went in with my concerns, explained that I am trying to lose weight and how I'm going about it.. etc. And then asked for tests to make sure I am in top health for exercise.

1) most doctors I have encountered have been fairly nice, just make sure you have some support if you are concerned (I take my bf with me!).

2) bad doctor experiences? yes, I cry, swear and refuse to see that doctor again. You are paying for a service, you deserve to get good service, and they are NOT allowed to treat you badly.

3) I have a family doctor.

4) Do you need to see a doctor that specializes in obese patients? Personally I just want a doctor who can tell me if things are outta wack and will help me treat anything that is wrong.

I have no idea if I answered any of your questions..

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Old 11-15-2006, 02:51 AM   #5
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Hi Im rosey from alaska i know just how you feel ..i dont like drs either and wont let them do tests i feel are unnessasariy.. however i do go becuz i am diabetic and thats nothing to fool around with.. my dr is kind and never lectures me..she has even jumped for joy when i have lost weight and applaudes my low sugar levels.. there are dr that wont be abusive to you.. go and see a gen md.. ask around your area who they like and why..call and talk to the office people and explain your fears.. maybe a mild tranquilzer would help..the first appt could be a getting to know you before you decide what is best for you.. dr's are human and you must realize that you are the driver..they cant make you do anything that you are not comfortable with or force you to have surg..however if you think you are diabetic you need to be checked out.. its your life we are talking about..i to am very self conscious about my body but i love my life more and the people that care about me are important enuff for me to overcome that fear and do what i need to to take care of myself..to answer a few of your questions..my dr is kind.. she incourages me to lose weight but never in a degrading way..i dont get lectured..i have had bad experinces with over hearing a nurse talk about my weight once and i never went back to that dr and i reported her.. she was fired..i stood up for myself and that felt good..i would ask around who your friends and neighbors recommend..id start with a gp or an internist..tell them what you want.. you are paying for their services..i hope ive helped you some and that you are not alone you can find me inthe dieting with diabetics we are a great bunch.. please get checked((((((((((hugs))))))))))) rosey
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Old 11-15-2006, 02:55 AM   #6
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Hey, I think most of us with extra weight have at least some embarassment & trepidition at going to see a doctor. I totally get the whole naked thing.

I have been very fortunate in that I found a doctor as a teen & have been with her ever since. I would think the first step would be to find a family doctor you can be happy with. Is it possible to just set up get to know you appointments with a couple before you have a real appointment? Do you have any friends or even acquantainces who are also overweight & have doctor's they are happy with? A referral is often a good way to go.

I have had upsetting appointments with other doctors & just refuse to go back to them. I am proactive & working on my health & any doctor who cannot see that is not going to be able to work with me & therefore does not have my best interests in mind.

When you do go see one be up front about your fears & talk to them about what you are doing to improve your health & what your goals are. Especially since you are paying for the service any doctor worth it will be willing to help you in establishing a trusting relationship so that your health can be properly taken care of.

Good luck (& I hope you do not have the doctor shortage we have here - it does make finding a match trickier!)
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Old 11-15-2006, 05:50 AM   #7
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Oh boy can I relate. I avoided the doctor at any cost and the dentist and just yesterday I wound up at an oral surgeon who told me I would need to spend almost $4000 on one tooth - because I had neglected my teeth because of my weight.

When I finally decided to lose weight I did finally seek out a doctor. I was lucky enough to find a female, this somehow was better for me. Do you have a friend that can recommend a doctor to you? I was absolutely terrified. I thought for sure I had high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and high cholesterol. I would spend nights tossing and turning just worrying about this. I was terrified. Well I can't tell you my relief when I checked out perfectly. And I never would have known that if I hadn't gone. All those years of worrrying for nothing. And if I hadn't checked out perfectly then I would have been given the proper treatment to get myself well - just as big a relief had that been the case.

As for the gown, I didn't need one. At one point she asked me to pull up my shirt, for and EKG and to hear my breathing. So my clothing stayed on the whole time, that will probaly be the case with you as well.

And I brought up my weight so she wouldn't have to. That also made it more comfortable for me. And she made some recommendations for me. She certainly did not yell at me or make me feel badly. I was frank with her and she was frank with me. And of course I threw in a little bit of humor which also works for me.

I know it is one of the hardest things to do, but I urge you to take the step and do it anyway. Doctors are used to dealing with all kinds of people, weights and shapes and are there to help you. G-d forbid there is something that needs to be addressed and you aren't. You can be taking unneeded years off of your life. This to me was the first step in changing my lifestyle. I truly felt if I wanted a new healthy lifestyle that seeing a doctor was the way to go. Please, please, please go see a doctor, you are so worth it.
Good luck and let us know what happens. You CAN do this, you HAVE to do this.
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:48 AM   #8
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1) Do you worry about going to the doctor with your obesity? Are they kind to you? How do they address your weight issues?
No. A doctor is there to keep me healthy and alive rather than unhealthy, in pain and possibly heading towards death. If a doctor says "you need to lose weight" then you know what? You do need to lose weight. Excess weight can cause so many health problems. Sometimes doctors may think that weight is the cause of every health issue but a good doctor knows better. If you go to a doctor and say "I need help losing weight, what do you suggest?". They may give you a general guideline and tell you to check with them in a couple months. They may even offer to give you pills like Xenical but I highly suggest you try on your own before taking pills.

2) Have you had bad doctor experiences and how did you deal with it?
Not really.

3) What kind of doctor would you suggest I look for (I feel really stupid for not knowing), an internist? family practice? general practioner? I don't really know what the difference is.

Personally, I only go to internists. I think internists have a better idea of how to deal with various issues including PCOS. Although I really highly suggest going to a gynecologist to talk about PCOS as well as get a female exam.


4) Are there doctors out there that specialize in obese patients who won't push weight-loss surgery? I've tried to do some research on the internet, but most obesity doctors I found seem to focus on gastric bypass, which is not the direction I want to go.

I've never had a doctor tell me "you need weight loss surgery". My current doctor is very good and supportive. He has said that I am doing good and to continue losing weight because that will only help with my knee issues. He says overall I am healthy and keep doing what I'm doing.
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:05 AM   #9
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You should go - I was in the same boat, but not for as long. I finally went and got my mammogram done too. I kept waiting until I lost "X" number of pounds, but then I thought, would I rather be told I'm fat (which I know) or by waiting be told, that I'm very ill as a result of waiting too long. I scheduled my appt on the day that I decided I would start living differently - Sept 1. So I went in saying I know I need to lose weight and I've got my head together and the next time you see me I will be smaller. She encouraged me and gave me tips about really how little cardio I HAD to do (3x week, but I do more) and where I should set my calories. They will probably want you to get your well-woman check, but they won't MAKE you do it on your first visit, but they will want you to come back. And you know what, ask for 2 robes! That's right - one to wear the normal way, and one that you put on backwards, like an apron, with your arms going thru the front like putting on a coat backwards. They do that all the time for people and offered it to me bc I was complaining about being cold. Having that extra layer made all the difference for me. But it also works if you don't fit in just one robe. I go to a family practice doctor bc now that I'm done having kids I don't need an ob/gyn anymore, and I get annoyed at their scheduling snafoos when the dr has to leave to attend to someone in labor.
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:34 AM   #10
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A lot of people have fears about doctors – and not just overweight people. I think it was very inappropriate of your psychologist to dismiss your feelings like that.

I have been amazingly lucky to find both an internist (primary care physician) and a gynecologist that I feel comfortable with. I found the gyn by picking her out of a book, while my other doctor was referred by my gyn. The original pcp I chose was actually a really large woman who made me feel worse about myself and my weight than any other doctor I have been to. I was totally taken aback, because I would have thought another overweight woman would have known better how to deal with overweight patients. I never went back to her and found my current doctor by asking my gyn who she thought would be good.

One way I know my doctor is really looking out for me was that on my last visit she asked if anything was bothering me and I told her my knees were hurting. Most people would have dismissed it as just because of my weight, but she ran a test for lyme disease to make sure it wasn’t that. I think that is a really important factor in a doctor – that they can look past your weight and not blame everything on it. It turned out that I didn’t have lyme, but what it I had and another doctor had just blamed it on my weight?

I think being honest with the doctor is important. You could say something like “I know I am overweight and it is unhealthy, but it is counterproductive for me to have you lecture me about my weight. When I am ready to do something about it, can I come to you for help?” A good doctor should want to help you be healthy in the best way for you. Always remember that they work for you and should always treat you with respect no matter what you weigh.
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Old 11-15-2006, 10:36 PM   #11
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Oh honey, I know exactly how you feel. Until August 2005, I hadn't been to a doctor since my daughter was born in 1994! I wouldn't have gone last year if I hadn't felt soooo very bad. In hindsight, it was just the wake-up call I needed. Not because of anything the doctor said to me, but because it forced me to get on a scale, which I hadn't done since 1994 either. That was the date my new life began, when I decided I had to take care of myself.

Since then, I have found an ob/gyn who I like a lot, and I don't worry about going to see her. She is always very kind. The first time I saw her, she noted that my blood pressure was a little high, and said that I should probably take off some weight. I told her that I had lost 50 lbs (at the time) and was working on losing more. She was supportive, and each time I go back, she mentions that I have lost XX number of pounds, and congratulates me.

I don't think I would necessarily say that I have had bad experiences with doctors, but most of them have mentioned my weight in the past. Because I was trying to hide from the fact that I am obese, I didn't want them to mention it to me at all, so it bothered me that they did. I've never had one suggest surgery, although since I avoided the doctors office for so long, that's maybe why. When I used to go more regularly, WLS wasn't as common as it is now.

You are doing the right thing by looking for a doctor now. When I look back at myself, I sometimes think that maybe I felt like I wasn't "worth" going to the doctor. I take my children to the doctor for check-ups and when they're ill and I encourage my husband to go for regular checkups and when he feels ill, but I made myself suffer being sick and not getting treatment because I am obese. I know it's not logical, but I also know that those feelings were there, in the back of my mind. I'm not saying that's how you feel, because obviously I don't know that, but that is part of how I perceived myself. We have to remember, that no matter our size, we deserve to have medical care and treatment.

Mainly, I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I felt the same way you're feeling.
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Old 11-15-2006, 11:42 PM   #12
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I feel the same way -- about dentists. So I totally understand where you're coming from!

That said, I am still avoiding the dentist. I know I should but... well, you know. Phobias. If you're really phobic, I might consider the mild tranquilizer idea. Obviously let the doctor know that you're taking it, since it might do funny things to your vital signs.

As someone else said, we're the customer, not the doctor. We pay them. They shouldn't be rude. They can raise concerns, like about weight, but they should be tactful about it. And encouraging. The whole reason I dislike dentists is that I had an AWFUL one as a child. He constantly belittled, said had awful our mouth hygeine was, how we were lucky not to have cavities, how we were horrid people for not flossing, etc., etc. Super traumatic. It's sad how bad experiences can have such a lasting impact.

That said, I've had fairly good luck with doctors. The bad ones weren't related to how they dealt with my obesity, and I left them each after 1 appointment. The good ones I've had have been really helpful. My current one is great! I was, admittedly, scared to slink back to her after I regained some of the weight I'd lost, having a difficult stretch. She was only encouraging, she just said to take my time to adjust to things, did I have any questions for her about my medications, etc., etc. Since then I've refocused myself and been back on a good track, and feel healthier for it. If she'd belittled me, well, I bet I wouldn't have rebounded.

Oh, and as an aside? Your psychologist sounds like a real jerk! They're not all like that, I promise. I had one at first that wasn't a jerk, but just wasn't helpful for me. After 5 sessions I realized it wasn't working, and went to a second person. We meshed much better, and it worked out well for me. I keep meaning to find a new one here but I've been real slack about it, I think talking to someone again about some stuff could help.
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Old 11-16-2006, 12:30 PM   #13
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Your concerns are normal, but like the others already said, I strongly urge you to see a dr. The medical conditions that you mentioned you might have respond well to medications and are best treated sooner, rather than later. If you do come across a dr that you donít like, look for a new one.

1) My family doctor is very kind, but very honest. She offers WL assistance (nutritional advice, meds, etc) but has never pushed anything on me or has never mentioned WLS. My family dr referred me to my OB/GYN who is also very kind. She hasn't pressured me to lose weight (although I've been pg for most of the time I have seen her, so it wasn't the time to lose anyways) but she has been honest about the risk to pg that obesity brings. She monitors me more closely and so far, I have not have any serious pg complications). As for being naked, I only have had to undress for annual pap/body exams. I have had those done by both drs and both respected my modesty (kept other parts of me covered while examining one part of my body) and I didn't feel too embarrassed. Both have larger gowns that fit me (close to 300lbs). Even if your drís office doesnít have larger gowns, the do have sheets that you can use to cover up what the gown does not.

2) I havenít had any really bad experiences with drs.

3) Either a family doctor or general practitioner would be a good place to start.

4) I donít anything about drs that specialize in obesity, but if you start with a general dr, they can refer you to specialists if needed.
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Old 11-16-2006, 12:47 PM   #14
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I can totally relate to you. I have been to the doctor in the past year and my weight was brought up. She was very supportive and made me feel comfortable around her. Aside from a regular doctor an OB/GYN is neccessary. It is always a good idea to go once a year for a regular checkup. I guess I should listen to my own advice now. I haven't been to an OB/GYN in 4 years myself.

I would not worry so much about it. There are people all over the globe overweight and still go to their doctors. I think you will find them more understanding than you think.
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Old 11-16-2006, 06:14 PM   #15
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I don't know how to answer your questions or help ease your anxiety.
As a nursing student and a consumer, I see alot from doctors and nurses on both sides of the fence. I don't go to doctors because I don't like the philosophy that everything can be medicated. I do get yearly pelvic exams/pap smear - but I go to Planned Parenthood and see a *FEMALE* nurse practitioner. I have a huge hang-up about seeing male doctors. I have been obese since I was a child, and our family doctor was never very sensitive about it.
The best thing that you can do is *be an informed consumer, do your research, ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS, and know that you ALWAYS have a right to say NO. You might need to go several different doctors to find one that suits you, or you might find the right one on the first try. But that is your right - certainly don't stick with any healthcare professional that makes you feel uncomfortable or who treats you poorly.
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