Weighty Matters

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Your Body, Your Health

on October 10, 2012

This is not a post about the many ways that being super obese impacts your health today and puts you at risk throughout the rest of your life.

Instead, I want to talk about how being super obese often leads ot us upping the odds against our well-being by not engaging in preventive care and regular, important tests and check-ups. I get it. It’s embarrassing, often humiliating, to go to the doctor. You know that the doctor is going to tell you, often with great force, that you have to lose weight.

Many primary care physicians aren’t outfitted with some of the basic equipment that’s needed for treating larger patients. I once went to a doctor whose scale didn’t have the capacity to weigh me. They didn’t have a blood pressure cuff that would go all around my upper arm. Forget about the robe/smock things that left about a foot wide gap when I tried to close them.

The list goes on but nothing is a good enough reason to not make regular appointments to have your health checked. In fact, when you’re overweight it is desperately important that you get examined. There is a greater chance that you have medical conditions that have to be known and treated. It’s bad enough that I was so overweight, but I really played Russian Roulette by not going for basic wellness exams and letting my high blood pressure and Type II diabetes go unmedicated for several years.

Ladies, let’s talk gynocological exams. Is it fun for any woman to get on the table, put her feet in the stirrups and open up for an exam and a pap smear? Hell no. That’s not going to be more enjoyable with weight loss, I know, but these are not things to ignore. If you’re really heavy your doctor should schedule you for an internal ultrasound too because she/he most likely cannot conduct a proper, thorough ovarian exam. Face the music and just do it. Swallow the embarrassment and shame. Give yourself some tough love, suck it up and go.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This morning’s paper has lots of pink ads in it. As soon as my doctor gets back from her own medical leave next month I have my annual appointment. One of the things she’ll do is write my mammogram prescription. This might be the first time in my life that I will be completely confident that the test and films are accurate. It might also be the first time that the test itself doesn’t hurt like a mofo. Boob placement and squishing for a mammo are not high on the list of “Can’t Wait!” things for any woman. The procedure is even worse for those of us with gigantic breasts. I always felt bad for the technician as she struggled to place my breasts right on the machine for a good, clear picture. I know that she knew that the amount of pressure the machine applied hurt me and I did my best not to suck in air, moan, or otherwise show my discomfort. It wasn’t her fault and I knew it was necessary or the radiologist would have no hope of spotting cancer in my breasts.

I’m really looking forward to my annual mammogram being a refreshingly different experience this year.

I’ll be 55 on my birthday in January. A few years ago, because I’m perimenopausal, my doctor wanted me to have a bone mineral density test. I couldn’t. No place within 120 miles of where I live had equipment with a table that could hold my weight. I carried the sick shame of that for days until I locked it in a closed compartment of my brain and refused to think about it any more. I can go for one now. That will be another huge NSV.

I don’t mean to lecture myself or anybody else here. Honestly, I want to encourage any of you who might be avoiding going to the doctor because of your weight. Please, please, take heart, shore yourself up and go. Do not further jeopardize your future. Take care of yourself as best you can. If you need cheerleaders, tell us here in comments and we’ll shake pom poms, kick up our feet and support you all of the way.

4 responses to “Your Body, Your Health

  1. June says:

    Excellent post! I think it is perfectly okay to lecture when it is done is such an eloquent, thoughtful and supportive way. Considering the silly things that go viral these days, I wish I could think of a way to have millions of people read this. It would be public service. Thanks.

  2. Mammos hurt even with little boobies. Sorry.

    Otherwise, yes, you are totally right. Go show yourself some love by taking care of yourself. And, Skye, when you find the doctor for the colonoscopy, ask if they have some ride options for those who don’t necessarily have someone who can take off work or be there to give you a ride.

  3. Skye says:

    I have to tell you, mammograms are pretty damned painful when you are a size B cup, too. Lots of pulling and pinching to make sure the whole breast is in the squishy thingy.

    I’m 51, will be 52 in January and have not had my colonoscopy yet. Not because of any weight shame but because I need to find my own gastroenterologist (my clinic system has them but they all practice at least 45 minutes away) to do the procedure nearby and also I need to find someone who will take me or at least bring me back. Some procedures are difficult or impossible to do without a support network to get you to and from and into your bed if necessary.

    I will happily encourage anyone, with or without pom poms, who needs support and encouragement.

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