Weighty Matters

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Taking Proper Care

on February 18, 2012

Contrary to what people might have believed, I’ve always been aware of my obesity.  I think some people believe that I was unaware of it or choosing to ignore it because I wasn’t devoting every waking hour to dieting.   Nothing could be further from reality.  Excess weight is carried with us all of the time — physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I have never once thought that I didn’t have to do something about it — there was never any denial — but what I knew and what I was able to accomplish were worlds apart.

After years of the diet-lose-stop dieting-gain cycle, there are times when I wanted to forget or ignore or just say, “What the hell” and eat because that cycle is exhausting.  Dieting is hard work, always thinking about what we can’t/can/should/shouldn’t eat; making sure we have the right stuff around and that we’ve planned our meals.  We lose and float on the euphoria of success.  Eventually, we stop dieting and, despite our most iron clad intentions, eventually we lapse from our healthier eating, backslide and regain the weight.  That wears on the heart, mind, and soul as much as it does on our body.

We are hyperaware and positive that our weight is the first thing everybody notices or thinks about when they see us.  Even if we don’t actually hear someone say, “She’d be such a pretty girl if she’d lose weight” or “She has such a pretty face, why doesn’t she lose weight” or even, “I can’t believe she’s going to eat that when she really should lose weight”, we assume they are thinking those very things or some close variation.

Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but one thing’s for sure.  When you’re overweight and go to the doctor, you’re going to hear about it.  Depending on the doctor, the admonishment will be delivered harshly or gently, but the message is there.  I don’t think it’s inappropriate.  Your doctor’s job is to help you maintain good health so a doctor with an overweight patient who doesn’t urge that person to lose pounds for their health is not going his or her job.  I do, however, think that some doctors need to look at how they deliver the message.

I once went to see a doctor when I had severe abdominal pain.  Even though he knew I’d been hurting for days and was feverish, before he addressed the immediate complaint and examined me, he delivered a lecture on my obesity and told me I needed to have weight loss surgery as soon as possible.  I swear at that moment I knew he was probably right, but damned if I agreed with his timing.  I’m sure I was inappropriately flippant when I said that I understood his concern but could we please concentrate on the problem at hand but, dammit, I was in freaking pain!

The next morning, that same surgeon removed my gall bladder.  I’d developed a stone the size of a Spanish olive that had lodged in the bile duct.  Pain relieved — physically at least.  The following day, he delivered another lecture about my weight and surgery before signing my release papers.  I’d inherited this doctor when my primary care physician retired but right at that moment I knew I never wanted to see him again for checkups or treatment.

Over the years, there have been many times when I ignored routine medical checkups so I could avoid potential lectures.   You can get away with this when you’re younger, but the older you get, the more you’re jeopardizing yourself.   There are chronic health conditions that go undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated.  I’m sure I should have been on Metformin and high blood pressure meds for years before I actually started taking them.    I’m lucky I didn’t develop even more problems.

Shortly after the gallbladder incident, a friend told me about her primary care physician — a warm, wonderful woman.  Determined to take better care of myself, I made an appointment and have seen her regularly ever since.  She’s a terrific doctor.  She treats me like an intelligent woman and not like an idiot who’s too stupid to go on a diet.  She monitors my conditions and talks to me honestly but without accusations and encourages me gently without scolding.  When I went to her last summer and told her I accepted that I needed to have weight loss surgery and asked her to help me, she referred me to the surgeon that she’d worked with for other patients.  In short, she has helped me to take better care of myself.

That’s the key.  No matter how overweight we might be, we cannot afford to ignore our care.  I hope everyone finds a doctor like the one I see now, and not like the other guy.  No matter where we are on the scale, and what we are or aren’t doing about it, we need to address the other conditions that we might have.  After all, when we finally get our weight on track, we want to be healthy enough to enjoy our improvements.

4 responses to “Taking Proper Care

  1. londonmabel says:

    I wrote about this not long ago on my blog, after reading about it on some other blog and allll the horror stories in the comments. UGH.

  2. Mary Stella says:

    Karen, sorry for you both losing your doctor and knowing that the gastroenterologist appointment will basically be a waste of time. *Hugs*

    Lorie, that simple statement, “I do love myself” is so powerful. I’m glad that you view your decision to have VSG and change your life as a good one that you did because you love yourself enough to do whatever necessary. I feel the same way and it helps me to see others share the same attitude. Thanks!

  3. A good doctor is so important. Mine just moved across the country to California. I’m happy for her but sad for me. And, I just got a letter from my gastroenterologist reminding me that it is time for my 6 month appointment. Said appointment will consist of at least an hour of waiting followed by 5 minutes with the doctor whom I will inform there have been no changes and he will tell me to lose weight and reduce the stress in my life.

  4. Lorie says:

    I could not agree with you more. The changes happen so fast that I may only get to enjoy a certain weight for a day. I am very proud of this decision. I had waited too long already. Being healthier is one of the biggest benefits. I do love myself.

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