Doctor Dilemma?

Published March 4, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

I’ve not been well since my last post.  I plummeted into the depths of depression on Tuesday, almost within hours, to one of the lowest points I have ever been.  It was scary as well as incapacitating.   I’ve never had depression arrive so deeply with such swiftness.  Surprisingly it left pretty quick too – the next day I was a walking case of aches and pains, along with intense fatigue, and today I’ve started to come good.

I did what I have learnt is the wise thing to do when I am very, very depressed and my body isn’t feeling right, I took myself off to my awesome doctor.  Turns out I have a flu/virus and she believes depression is a symptom of viral infections.  I spent a lifetime in a quest for a decent doctor, and when I found the wonderful Doc Jo, I really hit the jackpot.

I’m not sure she quite realises it, but these days she is a Health at Every Size practitioner.  We went through our years of diets and stuff, but there came a point where I said “Enough!” and to her credit, she has supported me on that.  She never comments on my weight (except to mention how she worries a specialist might be prejudiced against me) and looks to my health in all aspects that give her real information.  So long as my bloodwork etc comes back good, she’s happy.  She always says “You know when you’re not right, don’t you sweetness?”

But I know how hard it is to find a decent doctor.  One that doesn’t judge you because of your weight, one who treats you without prejudice, one who treats you with respect.  I was 32 when I finally found Doc Jo.

I’ve had doctors turn me away as soon as they looked at me because I was fat.  I’ve had doctors prescribe diet and exercise for asthma.  I’ve had doctors tell me I was lying, that I was cheating, that I wasn’t taking my health seriously.  I’ve even had a doctor tell me at 19 years of age when I presented to him with chronic menstrual bleeding (heavy flow for 18 months solid) to “Go lose some weight, find yourself a fella and we’ll talk when you’re ready for babies.”

I wish I was joking.

Thing is, we pay these doctors to care for us.  To treat us.  Even if you’re using full health insurance or Medicare, YOU pay for that in your taxes and deductions.  You are employing your doctor.  So if they don’t treat you with dignity, respect and like a human being, withdraw your custom from them.  Just like any other business, stop being their customer.  Take your business elsewhere!

If you were in a shop or other business, and looking to buy something, and the salesperson was disrespectful, would you purchase from them anyway?

Yes, it’s hard to get past that thing where your self esteem takes a battering and you just go with the doctor anyway.  Or walk out and avoid going to ANY doctor.  But you deserve and need decent health care.  I found my Doc Jo through a recommendation from a friend.  Ask your friends who their doctor is.  Google doctors by their names.  I have googled Doc Jo and get glowing mentions about her (some of them now are mine).

There are fabulous doctors out there.  You don’t have to put up with the shitty ones.  If you’ve got a good one, give a holla in the comments hey?


18 comments on “Doctor Dilemma?

  • it took me ages to find a good GP to help me through my battle with depression and bipolar – turns out everyone at the practice are great, so consequently our entire family travels halfway across brisbane to see their doc. it’s worth every kilometre and every drop of petrol. like yours, ours was on recommendation of a friend.

    • I hear you. Trying to find decent health care when there are any emotional/mental issues are even harder. I suffer clinical depression and so often I was told that I was either whingeing, too sensitive or yes, lose weight and you’ll cheer up. Aye caramba!

      I’m lucky that Doc Jo is right here in the CBD where I work (Myer Centre to be exact) so she’s very convenient for me.

  • I had a psychiatrist tell me after I poured my heart out how I was depressed, homesick, anxiety-ridden, and starting to hallucinate: “What are you doing about your weight?” “Huh?” “Weight watchers or anything?” “No?” “Well you need to lose weight. You know eat less things like candy and cookies and eat more things like carrots and lettuce.”

    Shortly after that I went on a crash diet, lost 40 pounds, and failed out of school.

    The first gynecologist I saw gave me an extremely uncomfortable pelvic exam, said my vagina was “nice and small” (fat women have cavernous vaginas usually?), and when I inquired about PCOS said that it was “just a cluster of symptoms” and that I needed to lose weight before I could get pregnant “and then you have to be able to run after them, haha!”

    I have since found a psychiatrist that doesn’t speak about my weight and a doctor that says it’s stupid for doctors to tell me to lose weight to cure PCOS because PCOS causes the weight gain.. I wondered into these good docs by chance but I’m glad I did.

    • My psychologist and I have worked through the fat thing. She used to push me on it (though ironically she was the first to tell me to stop weighing myself!) but over time we’ve worked out a happy compromise where so long as I’m looking after myself, she doesn’t push the weight/size thing.

      I wish there was a way we could report these bastards that treat us poorly. Some kind of review system!

  • I’m so glad you are feeling better, and so glad you have a good doctor.

    There is a real culture of arrogance in the medical profession. Doctors are taught by their professors and trainers to view themselves as gods and their patients as collections of symptoms. It’s changing a bit (probably as a result of more women entering the profession) but it’s still hard to find someone who really views their role as service provider, rather than oracle.

    BTW, I wanted to thank you for the Kerry Greenwood recommendation. I love it so far! Although I did have to choke down a dry heave when she mentions the 15 rodents her cats caught in her bakery kitchen in a single night. I hope that’s not par for the course in Melbourne!

    • Thanks and my pleasure. I love to share good books around. But the rodents don’t sound anything out of the norm for an inner-city alleyway to me.

  • There’s a doc in Bunbury, WA, who I used to see. Dr Irene Humphries. She’s a fantastic, no-nonsense lady who has never judged me on my size and has never doubted there was something actually wrong when I went to see her. I only ever got told off for not coming in sooner (tendency to think ”nah it’ll be right”) and running the risk of getting very sick. Dr Humphries is a size or two bigger than me (I’m around an 18-22 these days), so understands the need for respecting insecurities. The one time I broached her about weightloss, she just said she was pretty sure I knew what was best for me but any questions I had, I was welcome to ask her. Fantastic lady, great doctor and I miss being able to go to her. My Dr here is lovely, but Doc Humphries is special.
    PS Great with kids too.

    • She sounds like my Doc Jo. Except Jo is tall and rail thin. But she’s no nonsense, kind hearted and knows her patients as people, not numbers.

  • My gyno is Dr. Stuart Heimberger, and he absolutely rocks! He practices in the west Chicago suburbs. Last time I went I had put on some weight (according to my clothes) and made a comment about it. He said “Your numbers are good, don’t worry about it.” Also his office folk don’t get pushy about weigh-ins or anything.

  • My doctor is an asshole. I had a cyst removed in his office and his nurse was making faces because it smelled. He was very concerned for her and asked her if she needed to leave the room, but what a good trooper she was able to brave through it. He never asked me once how I was doing. I ended up removing the stitches myself instead of seeing that nurse again.

    I find myself often negotiating with him for routine tests or treatments. My thyroid test came back as overactive and so he has decided that I must be absolutely gorging myself to be heavy.

    I don’t go to the doctor at all any more.

    • Leslie, don’t let arsehole doctors prevent you from getting health care. I know it’s awful when you suffer through a shitty one, but my thing now is to hold my head high, do not allow them to be rude to me and if they are REALLY abusive, I don’t pay their bill until they apologise!

      Ask around. Google the local practices and see what you can find out about them. And walk into those offices with confidence and demand respect.

      They are there to provide us with health CARE. Not health judgement or health bullying.

      And what kind of two bit wuss nurse can’t handle something like that? If she flakes out with that, how’s she going to be with something REALLY gnarly?

  • I know exactly how you feel about doctors – I have several things right now that I need to address with one – but, I just keep putting it off because I know exactly what he will say….it’s because you’re fat! Why pay the co-pay to hear that crap?

    Okay, what I wanted to tell you was….a local hospital (Capital Regional Medical Center) here in Tallahassee, FL is running an ad for an “educational” program they are putting on. It’s for the lap band system for losing weight. The end of the commercial has the “fat girl” saying…..I know my family loves me, now it’s time to love myself!

    My head almost exploded off my shoulders. Of course, they conveniently don’t list an email address so I could send them one. Must I hate myself because I’m a fat girl? Please!!!!!

    I’m done now – just had to get that off my chest! Thanks for listening.

  • Doctors.. man I used to hate them.

    The first doc I saw to find out what was wrong with me did the whole “lose weight and you’ll be fine” thing and it pissed me off coz I knew that that was not the issue, especially when I had tried everything I could and my mum was doing everything she could to help me. I know it got her down immensely too.

    I stopped going to any doctor for quite a while and when I started to see a lady who dealt in skin treatments about dark patches on my neck she spoke to a client of hers who was a doc and asked if she could see me. I went and saw this doc who took some blood, spoke to me about my symptoms etc and she used dry ice to try and remove the skin patches from my neck and lower back. To say I was in pain is an understatement. She called me two days later to please come in and see her. It was then she told me I had PCOS, that it was extremely rare and there was no cure. I would be bald by 30, will just balloon in my weight until I could no longer look after myself, I would never be able to have children of my own as those with PCOS NEVER ovulate, I would start to look like a man with all the body hair that I will grow, the list went on. She told me that my best chance at “maintaining” my weight was to cut all carbs out of my diet and exercise no less than 3 hours a day. Now being a naive, depressed, young woman that I was at the time I believed everything she said to me. I was devastated.

    Over the next few months I fell further and further into depression. Following her “advice” I cut all carbs out of my diet and exercised as much as I could each day to the point of exhaustion. When I went back to her for help, I was pretty much told there was nothing she could do for me. I was bordering on suicidal by this time and felt I had nothing to live for. I was only going to get bigger, I was only going to get hairier across my body, was going to be bald and nobody would ever want to be with me.

    The following year I did some research for myself because I needed to do something for myself and I met one of my dearest friends who invited me along to a seminar at the WCH in Adelaide.

    Almost 10 years later, I’m married, have lost weight, have a daughter of my own and a whole new outlook on life. I do get depressed still, I doubt it will ever go away but I respond to it better than before. I went back to seeing a doctor close to home and when I asked him about PCOS he openly and honestly told me that he did not know enough to treat me but knew of someone who did and immediately wrote me a lifetime referral to a gynaecologist at my local hospital.

    I have been seeing him for my PCOS side of things ever since and he has been amazing. He listens to me and what I think is wrong and then goes through the motions with bloodwork, GTT’s etc every year to keep an eye on it all. We work together on my treatments and try different things. He himself told me on our first visit, “tell me what you know about PCOS because I can guarantee you 80% of the women that have researched it after being diagnosed will know more than the doctors that they end up going to to treat them”. After being a leader in a support group and meeting hundreds of women in the same boat, I agree with him.

    Although my GP has now retired at 79 years of age, I have found another doctor who has been extremely helpful to me and my family. I know that the chances of my daughter having PCOS are extremely high but I know how I can help her and I know that the word is getting out there thanks to the women in this “cysterhood” and the doctors standing up for them, so that eventually the whole “lose weight and when you are ready for babies, come back and see me” quotes will be no more (unless they are a joke of a doctor and not worth anyones time).

    So glad you are feeling better though my dear Kath. You are an inspiration to me and I look up to you in so many ways. Keep smiling hun!

    • I had a LADY doctor tell me pretty much the same thing, though she never ever mentioned PCOS. Just told me that because I was fat and had weird periods that I would be hairy but bald, not have any kids, turn into a man and always be unattractive. I shit you not!

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