[Content Note: Surgery, Fat Shaming, Medical Malpractice]
Some of you may remember that I had a spinal fusion surgery last May. Today was my six-month followup for x-rays and discussion with my surgical doctor.
I'm in pain constantly. It's actually gotten worse since my surgery, and I deeply regret getting it at all, at least in part because Things Be Worse, but also because now that the surgery is over and done I no longer have any real hope of ever getting any better. I knew, going into the surgery, that if things didn't get better like I hoped then I would be emotionally crushed, and ... here we are. Sigh.
Prior to the surgery, my doctor sold this solution as a way of significantly decreasing my pain; since my surgery, he's been largely uninterested in exploring why my pain has not only not subsided but has in fact gotten worse. He just doesn't seem to care, which has made all this so much worse because at least if he pretended to be sympathetic I would feel like I had a medical partner through all this who had my back, even if there wasn't much they could do for me. But I don't, and that's a very lonely feeling.
Today was more of the same. For the second time in six months, my doctor airily brushed past my concerns about increased pain by instructing me to "just join Weight Watchers" and claiming that losing weight was the key to "holistic healing". (Which must be true because my current primary care physician and my dermatologist share that particular assessment! Wheeee!) He wasn't interested in the fact that I already cook everything from scratch because of various food allergies and intolerances in my family; clearly since I am fat, I am eating nothing but donuts and cheetos all day long. (It's just a mystery how Hostess managed to go out of business, what with all the Twinkies I must be consuming!)
My doctor wasn't interested in the fact that almost everyone in my immediate family is naturally fat. He didn't care that the one time someone has "successfully" lost weight, they turned out to have cancer. He presumably -- though I haven't had the courage to say so -- wouldn't believe me if I told him that Weight Watchers doesn't work for most people. I certainly can't imagine that he's done any kind of formal study on the subject, since it's not even remotely close to his field of expertise.
But facts aren't the issue here. He believes, or at least claims to believe (which in this case ultimately amounts to the same behavior), that weight loss is simple and easy for anyone willing to give it the ol' college try and not stuff everything in the pantry into their face once per evening. He doesn't ask me if I want to join Weight Watchers. He doesn't even ask me if I can afford to join Weight Watchers, which is not an academic issue here in the face of looming unemployment in part because I'm in too much pain to work a full-time job. He just tells me to do it. Every. Time. I. Visit.
Or, rather, every time I visit after the surgery that didn't help to cure me. Prior to the surgery, he never once mentioned my weight. And I foolishly took that to mean that he was fat-accepting rather than an unethical hack more interested in selling a product than enriching a life. Live and learn, I guess.
My doctor is a shitty doctor. He'd probably be a shitty doctor to me regardless of my body weight. But because my body weight is what it is, his shittiness to me takes the form of fat hatred. Every time I visit him, I am reminded that I am ugly, that I am unacceptable, that I am non-conforming, that I am Bad and Wrong and Not Good. And despite everything I know about Weight Watchers not working for me and dieting being bad for my body, every time I visit him a deep, timid, frightened corner of my soul thinks "maybe I should join." Not because I think it will work, but because at least then I can say I really did try. (Again.) Maybe that would earn me the right to not be subjected to hatred each time I visit. Maybe then I'd be treated like a person instead of like a thing.
But I know that's not the case. Because that's not how hatred works.
In January I have to decide between a dream job alongside a person I admire versus staring down the barrel at unemployment. The only problem is that the job is full-time, and I haven't been able to work a full-time position in over two years (thanks to a combination of work-from-home telecommuting and part-time scheduling). My pain increases daily, and the simple act of going to the grocery store hurts me so deeply that I literally see stars afterwards. I don't think I'm going to be able to take this job that I want because of my pain, and it breaks my heart that so much is unavailable to me because I'm stuck in a body that just plain doesn't work. I cry at night because I can't have the job I want, not because I'm unskilled or unqualified but because my spine doesn't work right.
A spine-doctor should care about that. But mine doesn't. Mine only cares about fat-shaming me.
Well, that's not quite true. He also took up about half of our visit doggedly asking me questions about my PSP and whether or not it would play movies for him when he travels, while I tried unsuccessfully to find out if my neck had developed a new spinal bend since my last x-rays, even going so far as to pick it up and try to play with it while I attempted to speak with him about my medical problems.
So there's that, too, in addition to the fat-shaming.
Thread Note: Every time I bring up fat-shaming on this board, people who should know better start up with "I'm not fat-shaming, but..." and then totally do. This is a personal topic for me, if that wasn't already obvious from the above post, and I will moderate this thread with an iron fist. Be ye forewarned: anything which smells of weight-loss advice, pro-diet talk, or body policing will be deleted on sight.