Butterfly Cauldron

Friday, July 07, 2006

And this is why fat people don't go to doctors...

Court orders disciplinary case stopped against doctor accused of making rude remarks to patients
Associated Press Writer

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A judge has ordered the state Board of Medicine to stop disciplinary proceedings against a doctor accused of telling a patient she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men and advising another to shoot herself following brain surgery.

Judge Edward Fitzgerald made clear in a ruling released Thursday that he did not condone remarks attributed to Dr. Terry Bennett and found them unnecessary, but ruled Bennett had a right to speak bluntly.

"It is nonetheless important ... to ensure that physicians and patients are free to discuss matters relating to health without fear of government reprisal, even if such discussions may sometimes be harsh, rude or offensive to the listener," he concluded in the ruling Wednesday.

The complaints against Bennett included charges that he told a white patient that she was so obese she might only be attractive to black men.

"Let's face it, if your husband were to die tomorrow, who would want you?" the board has said Bennett told the overweight patient in June 2004. "Well, men might want you, but not the types you want to want you. Might even be a black guy," it quoted him as saying, based on the woman?s complaint.

Bennett, 68, has denied making the comment, but has said he's seen polls supporting that position.
"If you look at the polling, nobody likes fat women," he said last year. "Is it right? No. Is it sensible? No. Is it true? Yeah ... Black guys are the only group that don?t mind that. Is that racist to say that?"

A 2001 complaint accused Bennett of telling a woman recovering from brain surgery to buy a pistol and shoot herself to end her suffering. The doctor was also accused of speaking harshly to a woman about how her son might have contracted hepatitis, according to the ruling.

Bennett claimed victory.

"The question now is: Will the board waste more of your and my tax dollars and appeal this, or accept done as done?" he said in a telephone interview.

Fitzgerald also ruled that state and American Medical Association requirements to treat patients with "compassion and respect for human dignity and rights" are so vague they are unconstitutional. Bennett probably would have won his challenges before the board, the judge said.

Bennett said he planned to sue everyone involved for "malicious prosecution."

"I am not inclined to be forgiving about it," he said. "It's been devastating and infuriating."

Assistant Attorney General Elyse Alkalay, who represented the board in the court case, said she was reviewing the ruling and had not decided whether to appeal.

Bennett could have faced penalties ranging from a written reprimand to suspension or revocation of his medical license.

Where do I begin? Seriously. First, no one likes fat women? Uh, no. I do. I tend to prefer them. So, point one against the good doctor.

Second...what the fuck? I mean, seriously. What.The.Fuck? This is what's passing for good bedside manner these days? I know there was a point in my life that, if a doctor had spoken to me that way, I'd never darken their door again. And I'd stay sick and suffering, because of the "blunt" nature of his advice. Only black men will want you? What? What's the problem with that? There's nothing inherently inferior or wrong with black men. What the fuck? I just...what the fuck???

Okay. Calmer now.

Here's the problem with doctors like this -- they get fat people killed. Don't believe me? Let me offer my Aunt Vickie as an example. She died when she was 42 of a stroke. She was 5 foot nothing and probably 350 lbs. She was also a nurse in one of the best hospitals in the state, in the ICU. She knew, we found out after her death, that she knew something was wrong. She'd been taking drug samples from work to treat what she thought, it seems, was simply high blood pressure. The problem was, she didn't just have high blood pressure. She had an auto immune illness, one related to Lupus actually. One that a simple blood test could detect. One that could have been treated, though not cured, by taking one damned pill a day. One little, tiny pill. She'd likely had it for 10, maybe 15 years. It had damaged her blood vessels so badly, that the two main ones in her brain had actually rebuilt themselves, carving out a new pathway because the old one had been scarred to the point it was blocked.

She was around doctors every damned day. She was friends with dozens of them. And she wouldn't go to any of them, wouldn't talk to any of them about her symptoms because she was so very, very afraid they'd make it all about her weight. She was so ashamed of being fat that she died way, way, way before she needed to. And why was she ashamed? Because of bastards like this guy who thinks that "blunt" talk is the way to get fat people to loose weight. Why the hell is it anyone's business if someone is fat? Unless the fat is actively affecting a patients health, what the hell does it matter?

My aunt was an amazing woman. She was a second mother to me, the one I could actually talk to. She was the only other person in my family to escape the Fundy programming. I could do things with her, or tell her things, that would scandalize everyone else in my family. She was smart and funny and the most generous, loving person you'd ever meet. It didn't matter that she was raised in poverty. It didn't matter that she, like my mother, was told by her father she was worthless because she was female. She put herself through nursing school, she worked her way up to an awesome job, she bought a house when she was my age, she had great friends and was so very, very loved.

Christmas was her favorite holiday. She didn't have any children of her own, so she spoiled her nieces and nephews. I was the oldest, so I had the most benefit of her adoration. Every year, she brought in piles and piles and piles of presents. Whatever we wanted, we got. It was amazing, really. She let me crash at her house the summer before I started grad school. My boyfriend and I painted her house one summer. She took me on vacations to Disney World and the mountains and the beach. She really loved life and she wasn't afraid to just get out and do things.

But she wouldn't go to the doctor. She wouldn't do the one thing she needed to do most. She was so afraid of being told she felt bad because she was fat, that she just didn't go. And so, she died. Even that morning, when she was having the stroke, she wouldn't call an ambulance. She wouldn't go to the hospital. And because she waited, she died. Because she had been told, been brainwashed to believe that all her problems were caused by her fat, she died.

Being fat was not the physical cause of her death. Regardless of the fact that she was 350 lbs, that's wasn't the organic cause of her death. No, it was that damned undiagnosed autoimmune disease.

And you know what scares me? It scares me to think that, even if she had gone to the doctor, it wouldn't have changed anything. It scares me that people like this bastard are in practice. Because if she'd gone to someone like him, they wouldn't have seen a sick woman. They'd have seen a fat woman.

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posted by Zan at 12:00 PM


The experience of having whatever is bothering you attributed to your weight is particularly true for women. I have a back that will always be weak because three doctors decided that the reason I had pain was my weight; when I finally (18 months after the initial injury) was sent to a physical therapist she found the problem in less than one minute. How? She asked how it had happened and she listened! She discovered that my pelvis was tilted up 3 inches on the right side! And now, after all this time, the muscles had learned to hold it that way. I had told each of the doctors the same thing I told the physical therapist, but she is the only one who listened to me.

3:26 AM  

I understand that completely. It took me almost five years to get my Lupus diagnosis. Five years and more doctors than I can count. They all told me that I was just stressed and fat. If you learn to relax and loose some weight, all these problems will go away. Right. I got told I had a food allergy, chronic kidney infections, depression...everything except what was actually going on. And they wouldn't even run the fricking tests! I had insurance, but they wouldn't run a few simple blood tests.

About four years ago, I was in so much pain that I decided to try just one more doctor. And this one listened. I was a wreck in her office. I was in so much pain and I was so certain she was going to tell me I needed to lose weight...I was just crying the whole time I was talking to her. But she listened to me. Really listened. And she told me she believed me. The utter relief those words brought me. She believed me.

She also ordered some tests. Now, she didn't go in thinking I had Lupus, but she knew I had something. So she did a kinda shotgun approach -- since no one had bothered to do any testing before. Found the elevated ANA, brought me back in and got some more history. When she heard about my aunt, she zoned in on an autoimmune disease. So, we did some more blood tests and got more suggestive results, so she sent me to a specialist. And there, in less than two weeks, I had a diagnosis and a course of treatment. After almost five years of agony and suicidial depression from the pain.

At this point, I only go to female doctors if I possibly can. They're the only ones who take the time to listen to me and seem to genuinely believe what I tell them. (Although, I did have a male surgeon and he was really good. And funny. I liked that.)

7:06 AM  

Watch those female doctors though. I had one refuse to listen to me when something was really wrong and I ended up with heart palpitations because my potassium had dropped so low (because of a med she had prescribed, which she didn't monitor). She was fat too and I swear she treated me badly partly because I'm okay with my fat and she wasn't okay with hers--funny though, the more weight loss drugs and dieting that she did, the fatter she got. Thankfully I have a different doctor now who listens to me and doesn't blame everything on my weight. Also, I'm no longer on the med that caused my problem and it turns out I didn't need it to begin with.

8:51 AM  

Oh, I hear that. Even though I prefer going to female doctors, I realize you can't make sweeping generalizations about someone based on their gender. I've just had better luck women docs. I think it's got a lot to do with my comfort level. My primary doctor is female and gay, so it's easy for me to talk to her about things that I'd feel...conflicted...talking to about with a male doctor. Which may be why I get so much better care from her, in addition to the fact that she's just an amazing doctor. I send all my friends to her and they all have nothing but raves for her.

You know, I've found that problem myself -- other fat people who seem offended or upset that I don't have any problems with being fat. It's like 'why aren't you dieting? why aren't you obsessed over food? Why aren't you depressed because you can't fit into a single numbered size?' And really, I just have much more important, enjoyable things to do. So long as my body does what I want it to do with reasonablo ease, I'm okay.

It's good to find a good doctor. When you do, hold on to them! That's my only fear about moving if (when) I find a new job...having to go through the whole doctor search again. But I'm to the point now where I'm not taking bullshit about everything being caused by my weight. Which can make for some interesting conversation in the exam room :)

9:16 AM  

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