Monday, March 05, 2007
Is that a beachball in your belly or are you just fat?
Anyone who is even the slightest bit overweight has had to deal with a doctor who was 'concerned' about their weight. It's a rite of passage, I think. Or a plot by Big Pharma to make us all insane. Those of us who are more than slightly overweight get used to it. I'm very lucky, in that my new doctor is open to discussing weight loss if I choose, but she isn't pressing the issue and is really interested in treating the symptoms I bring to her. But I've dealt this them before. The one doctor who told me that I was just in pain because I was stressed and needed to lose weight. Who tried to get me to spend thousands on Chinese herbs that would make me lose weight. Who put me on Prozac, but refused to do any tests to find out if there was actually an illness causing my symptoms. And gods know, my Aunt Vickie paid for being sick and ill with her life. She died from shame, although the physical cause was a stroke. She wouldn't go see a doctor because she was fat and she knew it would be an issue. So she died at 42 of a disease (Hugh's Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that she'd had for years which had weakened her blood vessels to the point that they failed) that could have been controlled with a simple aspirin a day.
So when I read this story I am not at all surprised. A naturally chubby girl starts gaining weight rapidly. She goes to doctors, gets told she needs to lose weight. She goes to more doctors, she gets told to accept that she's fat and that's all and she needs to lose weight. Doctor after doctor after doctor tell her the same thing. And the whole time, she's got a cyst growing inside her, swelling to the size of a frigging beach ball. And her health fails, not because she's fat, but because there was a foreign object growing inside her, pressing on organs and muscle and joints and ultimately rendering her unable to walk normally. And she's just fat, that's all. Except she's not.
How many years did she live like this? How much did she suffer because the medical establishment didn't take her seriously? Because all they saw was a fat woman? And how easy was it to figure out? A simple, painless ultrasound would have discovered this cyst while it was small and it could have been removed and she'd have had her life, but no. No. Instead, her life is taken over, she's shamed and humiliated by the people she goes to for help and for what?
She grew larger and larger, and the weight damaged Hilton's quality of life and contributed to the failure of a marriage. Still, doctors told Hilton she had better accept the fact that she was just fat and change her ways.
She's just fat. Only, she wasn't. And if one single doctor hadn't taken her seriously, she'd still be trapped in that body, still enslaved to a cyst that could have been removed -- much safer -- when it was mere millimeters long.