Blindsided: The Fat-Shaming Doc Visit

trigger-warning

Written 10/12/16 about 10/10/16 Gastro-Intestinal (GI) doctor visit.

fatshamedef

So, while I have been fat my whole life and have had my share of medical fat-shaming from fat-hating doctors, it has been a very long time since that’s happened… whether from their shifts in attitude via Continuing Education about inclusivity  (or at least learning to keep their mouths closed about their attitudes)  or because I learned to open my mouth to shut it down.

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Unknown date of un-remembered hospitalization. PICC Line insertion successful.

The GI Doc

I had signed AMA out of the hospital 12 hours earlier when the doctor, small, a person of color (no clue the origin, but shouldn’t matter),very pretty walked into the Exam Room.

“Oh, my! You look awful,” she said. I’d seen her 3 times before, but I am memorable by what I wear (tie-dye) and being bald. And I am very, very nice to care providers.

“You look like you haven’t slept in weeks!”

“Uhhh, I am at the tail end of a 2-3 month Manic Episode, so no, not sleeping much.”

She went over the paperwork, labs & prescriptions from the night before. She looked at me pretty harshly and said, “You really need to be in the hospital. You are extremely dehydrated.”

I told her no one said anything like that the night before, but I would probably still not have stayed.

She said, “Stubborn.”

Dehydration?

water

The reasons she said I am dehydrated:

  • chronic diarrhea despite 20 Immodiums and 3 Pancreatic Enzymes a day
  • vomiting a couple of times a day
  • taking Lasix to pee! (because of the ankle swelling from the Risperdal)

I would have never recognized the signs of dehydration because they were in the labs! I guess the NP the night before didn’t think I was that dehydrated because she never even said the word to me. My pee is crystal clear; strange. She said that was why my HR was 124 upon discharge. I am sure I shrugged.

Medications

She said I needed to get the ER prescriptions filled (the Cipro and Bentyl) and she added Prilosec, Lomotil and Zofran.

gi-meds

This is what my New-Taking-Now meds look like (as they lay against my ballot which went in the mail yesterday!).

“Good-Luck with That.”

“You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected.”

Okay, true. Emergency surgeries on fat people have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality.

But there was more to her sentence above.

She ran two of them together, “You need to have your gallbladder taken out as soon as possible, before it gets infected… but I am sure you won’t find a doctor to touch you because of your size.”

blinking as I watched the contempt drip from her lips

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t think you will find a doctor in our area to do the surgery because of (again with the disdain) – the risks.”

I told her I knew that Bariatric Surgeons (who do Weight Loss Surgeries) are ALL GI Docs and I would find one to take my gallbladder out.

“Good luck with that.”

She gave me my paperwork, prescriptions and her bulldozer-sized hatred of fat people… and walked out.

I sat there and cried.

tuckedin

raw Raw RAW

I am strong. Most of the time.

Right now in this (decreasingly) manic place, I feel flayed, nerves on the outer surface of my body. No ability to control what or who hits them. I merely react to the sensations.

This one was an animal claw dragging down my chest… slipping in and gashing my heart as it went by.

I had not felt such shame in eons. And I see doctors all the time! I mean, really, probably not for at least a decade have I been medically fat-shamed. (Many medical & personal fat-shaming experiences to come in future posts.) I felt hideous in those moments after she smashed shit down my throat, squishing it with her heel as she left the room.

Pondering

I stumbled out of the building, crying still, and drove home.

I began to find my Power, many minutes too late and useless at that point, but I thought, “For fuck’s sake, I cannot possibly be the fattest person on the face of the earth who needs abdominal surgery.”

And then I got mad, but it was a gradual dilution of the mad into the shame where, for a time, if they were able to be separated, you could see they were half and half. Now, 2 days later, I am more mad, but in retelling it to my Insurance’s Case Manager, I cried from shame so hard she kept having to say, “Breathe. Breathe.”

I have been given 3 Bariatric doctors’ names… one in Orlando, one in Tampa and one in Miami. I told my Case Manager I would go anywhere in Florida to get it done. Even if I had to go to Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville. I called the doc here in Orlando, explained the situation to the Office Manager and she said she would talk to him and get back to me tomorrow. I told her I knew it was not his usual surgery, that I had had Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) in 2001, but was fat again and needed help, please.

We’ll see what happens.

I will find a doctor to help me.

i-am-powerful

 

ER Visit for Abdominal Pain

10/10/16

hotpain

I am a plethora of fucked up shit right now. The Bipolar Mania and my abdominal pain is getting worse. I went to the ER last night where everyone was as loving and respectful as possible. Oddly, two men I complimented on their bow ties, came and hugged me, both saying, “You’re beautiful!” That never happens.

Get Thee to the Hospital Already!

I’ve known I have gallstones for over a year, but the gallbladder wasn’t hurting me so I haven’t had to deal with it. However, I’ve been having increasing right upper abdominal pain for months, thinking it was a hernia (incisional). I also considered the gallbladder, but it didn’t fit the typical gallbladder attack.

Then the Mania hit and all of my body’s pain vanished. I didn’t realize it was gone until I started taking the Risperdal and the dips down from the highs brought back the intense pain I live with every day.

Symptoms

  • Off & on again fever (highest 103.5)
  • Sweating profusely (not related to Blood Glucoses)
  • Diarrhea that 20 Immodiums a day and Pancreatic Enzymes don’t quell (so no bowel obstruction)
  • Upper right abdominal pain that radiates through my back, which then changes to a knitting needle feeling (the pain has no rhyme or reason… independent of food choices… making this Atypical Gallbladder pain
  • When the spasms hit, Pain Level is a 6

I am really good at using Dr. Google and self-diagnosing, but I had run out of ideas for matching my pain to a cause, so trekked off to the hospital.

pain

Prelim Work

Because I know hospitals are wary of people with pain, thinking they are drug seekers, I am clear with each care provider overseeing me that I am 2.5 years clean from opiates and do not want them. They visibly relax, relieved they don’t have to figure out how to have That Opiate Discussion. I use Mindfulness Meditation for my pain relief and did my best with it the past week.

They took me right in and, during my vitals, we see my Heart Rate is 118… double what it should be. Noted. I was taken right to a room, meeting a lovely nurse who got the IV in my fat, fat arm’s one-vein-I-have on the first try. Then the Nurse-Practitioner came in with two students (she didn’t ask permission to have them in there, but I couldn’t have cared less at the moment… and I always let students watch anyway). I was delighted to see an NP and she thanked me for that, most saying, “Where’s the doctor?!”

Quickly, I was given Toradol, which didn’t do squat, and then Zofran (for nausea), which helped a little more. Then I was wheeled down to get a CT, a fat girl wheelchair that held my body comfortably.

I was in tons (laughing about the word “ton,” seeing it in editing) of pain at that time (the pain coming in waves like contractions). The tech helped me onto the narrow table.

Contrast Pleasure

The scan had contrast, which I have grown to enjoy. I used to cry when they said I needed it, but now…. shudder of pleasure

I teach others how to enjoy it as well.

You see, when the dye goes through the IV and into the body, it makes a searing beeline for the groin. More specifically for me, my clit. (Men say it goes to their testicles.)

You know, when some people get it, they uh- they start to- well, they get an orgasm. Can you believe that?

While I don’t orgasm, I have learned to, quite literally, lie back and enjoy the short ride.

I even overlook the nasty iodine taste in my mouth. Too much of a hot party going on down south.

When the procedure was done, the sweet tech and the wheelchair pusher-guy helped lift me to sitting, grabbing the sheet behind me and pulling. I was zipped up quick as could be!

Missing My Pain Doula

doula1

It was going to take an hour for the results. I was texting with my fawn, then I got really, really sad about not having Zack with me.

Zack had been my medical doula for 2 decades. Longer. Even when he was pregnant (30 years ago), he was with me when I had surgery, loving me through it.

I began having another spasm, told my love I had to go for a few minutes, then cried as I did my Lamaze breathing, leaning over the raised head of the bed, my tears falling onto the blue sheet as I huffed and puffed in a sobbing rhythm. Big hot tears of remembering how Zack spoke up for me, protected me, gave me my meds on time, even wiped my ass after surgeries when I couldn’t reach. (That’s love right there.) I didn’t want to bother him with my pointless sadness, so didn’t call, but I could feel the emptiness engulfing me.

embracepain

I was NPO, knowing surgery might really be possible, and how alone I was going to be if that happened. How would I get food? How would I remember my meds? How would my ass stay clean?

(An aside: I have been being terribly non-compliant with my Risperdal and Trazodone. I asked my love to help remind me/encourage me to take them about 11 or 12 at night, but I over-ride him and just stay up for 24+ hours. Zack was like a Psych warden… handing me my pills and watching while I swallowed them. Alone, I get to be a bad patient because I would rather feel GOOD than sleep. Even though there are bugs and shadows and such. Yeah, I know. STOP IT! One of my sweet friends sent me a picture of herself making a stern face that she said says, “TAKE YOUR MEDS!” Maybe it’ll help.)

The Results

medical_test_result

The NP came in and told me they couldn’t see any hint of a hernia in that area. I was really surprised. However, the gallstones were present, but labs showed no cholecystitis, so surgery was ruled out for the moment. She said I did need to have surgery as soon as possible, though.  I told her I had a GI Doc I would call in the morning (10/10/16… I did… next post).

She then said I had an infection in my intestines. (The paperwork is in the car, I can’t find what it is called at the moment.) She wanted me on Flagyl, but I am allergic to it, so changed it to Cipro. She also was prescribing Bentyl for the colic-like abdominal spasms. She said she would prefer I stay in the hospital for a couple of days, but I said I could take care of things at home. (Sheesh. Lyin’ through my teeth, I am.) She said, fine.

When she went out to do discharge paperwork, the sweet nurse came in and did vitals. My HR was now up to 124. She left, the NP came back in.

“I really want you in the hospital for a couple of days now.”

I asked what would they do. She said meds and pushing fluids. I said I could do that at home. She had me sign out AMA. I was told to return to the ER in 12 hours if I couldn’t see my GI doc, wanting to check my HR again. I said, “Sure, no problem.”

I left with the prescriptions and tried the 2 closest pharmacies, neither of which takes my insurance. I was exhausted, crying in frustration and went home.

curlpain

I tried working, but was in so much pain, I laid in bed and boo hoo’d myself to sleep. I slept fitfully for a couple of hours at a time. Up for 2, back down again for 2.

I did not take my Risperdal or Trazodone last night.

I called my GI doc’s office at 7:50am and got an 8:30am appointment.

That’s the next post.

Next: Blindsided: The Fat-Shaming Doc Visit