Medical Fatphobia and How it Comprimises Medical Care - 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet Weight Loss Community

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Old 06-24-2016, 05:30 PM   #1  
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Default Medical Fatphobia and How it Comprimises Medical Care

Has fat shaming ever prevented you from seeking medical care, or been the cause of a misdiagnosis? This has been a topic of interest to me over the last year because of my experience with doctors.

Medical Fatphobia Almost Killed My Friend
Virgie Tovar | 06.9.16 12:01am

Excerpt -

"She sensed something was really wrong, but when she went in for her appointment she was told by her (very thin) doctor that the trouble was that she was overweight, and that she could leave this whole thing behind her if she just set her mind to shedding some pounds. Four years later, the cancer that had already begun to grow back on that day of the appointment had spread.

A couple years after reading that essay, I was asked to speak at a nurses’ conference in Philly. In preparation, I asked fat people to submit narratives about medical experiences that had shaped their view of healthcare.

I expected to receive about 15 replies, but ended up combing through 60 stories that left me shaking with rage.....

There’s a long list of grievances:

We’re afraid we’re going to get fat shamed.

We’re afraid to get weighed because we’re taught to feel shame about our weight.

We’re afraid that a doctor will confirm that we have something that the culture thinks only fat people get — diabetes, high blood pressure, joint pain — and that we will not receive empathy.

We’re afraid to disrobe or be touched because we are taught to feel shame about our bodies.

We’re afraid of medical negligence and being told that, no matter what is wrong, our illnesses are essentially our fault.

We’re afraid of being patronized and dehumanized.

We’re overcome with anxiety about having to self-advocate.

We’re already always seen as sick, and so when symptoms begin to arise, we just see them as part of what it means to be fat.

We’re taught to devalue our bodies, so taking care of ourselves is not seen as a worthwhile pursuit.

All of these things lead to an insidious cycle — fat people experience medical fatphobia from care providers, which in turn leads to seeking less medical care. Then we wait longer to report symptoms, and, therefore, go untreated for lengthier periods. When we finally hit a point where we can no longer deal with the symptoms, doctors will see us at our absolute worst health-wise, and their attitudes about fat people are confirmed.

And the cycle starts all over again.
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:14 PM   #2  
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This actually was the cause of a medical misdiagnosis for me... and I was not even that heavy at the time; quite a bit under 200 pounds, and I am tall. I was a member of an HMO and was having some physical problems. I asked the doctor for a referral and he pretty much just mocked me and referred me to Overeaters Anonymous. I had a close friend who urged me to change my insurance and go to her doctor. This was at a time of year when I was allowed to do so, which I did. I went to her doctor and discovered I had a large cervical polyp. Fortunately it was benign and the doctor was able to successfully remove it; however, of course had something like been allowed to continue to grow... or had it been malignant.... the consequences could have been tragic.
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:59 PM   #3  
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I have had many experiences with not being taken seriously by doctors, but honestly, I don't think all of it was weight. I have a BMI of 40, and wasn't much slimmer any time in the past two years, but it seemed to me that my doctor just didn't think my problems were real. And indeed, a lot of them were anxiety-related, but multiple doctors failed to diagnose several nutritional issues (which I ended up having to fix myself) and reactive hypoglycemia, which, again, would have been an easy fix with diet if only I had known about it sooner.

I strongly got the impression that doctors don't take people seriously unless they have symptoms so severe that they are definitely dying, and they're not willing to investigate things if they don't know an answer off the top of my head. I was very persistent and still had to do so much by myself. They chalked everything up to anxiety at the same time as mental health professionals were insisting my problems were physical. And once I was branded as a hypochondriac, it was even harder for me to be taken seriously. And doctors wonder why people don't come to them until conditions are already advanced!

I will say, though, that you can always change doctors, and for me, that was hugely important. My first doctor flat out refused to investigate anything. The second one, the one I have now, at least recommended that I see a therapist and referred me to a cardiologist (who found that I did, in fact, have a slightly irregular heartbeat, although it is not harmful). Being proactive about asking if my symptoms could be due to specific conditions and keeping track of my exact symptoms helped as well. Another tip is that studies show female doctors have better outcomes than male doctors because they spend more time talking to their patients.
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Old 06-25-2016, 06:56 AM   #4  
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I should have included in my last post... but I currently have just the opposite. My doctor is absolutely fabulous and is my biggest cheerleader. She understands how hard it is to lose weight. She is totally supportive of my doing it in a healthful manner -- has stuck with me through my ups and downs in weight, along with two major surgeries. As well as having repeatedly won "'Top Doctor" awards in Seattle Met Magazine (and other publications) she is sweet, kind and funny. I am truly blessed and could not have done this without her. She is THE BEST.
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