Now it’s Thorny’s turn to cry…
Thorny’s turn to cry, Thorny’s turn to cry-eye…..
Y’all, I finally went and had a physical done yesterday.
I know. Go ahead and sit back and really appreciate that irony – I’m the one who made such a big ol’ fuss about fat people getting the health care they need, and yet it’s taken me, what, six months since my mom died to finally get in to see the doc myself?
Just goes to show how hard that can be.
Granted, I had a few roadblocks along the way – first an appointment that got canceled at the last minute, then some problems with my family’s health insurance during the last few months of 2007. But still. There was a whole whack of time in there where I could have gotten it done, and I didn’t.
I was scared.
I was going to see a new doctor in a new clinic system, and I weigh more now than I ever have in my life, and while my mom’s death emphasized to me how important it is to not let some lab-coated fat-hater convince me my health is unimportant, my mom’s death also had knocked some wind out of my sails, and the idea of going in only to have to fight for my right to decent health care made me want to crawl in a hole and weep.
The stories that people came forward with, as important as they are, also fed my anxiety-ridden mind with new ways in which I could have been discriminated against, and there were times when I was convinced that there just weren’t any fat-friendly doctors out there. Intellectually I know that’s not the truth, but sometimes Intellect takes a back seat to Fear, y’know?
So I finally went in yesterday. I was nervous as hell, for reasons even beyond the fear of coming up against a fat-hater, and then, because I am never punctual despite my best efforts, I was running late.
So I got to the clinic and charged up the stairs to my doctor’s office, and then sat down and tried to regain some semblance of calm. Instead, I got called in almost immediately, and got weighed (and here’s where I shame-facedly admit that I was totally cheered to see the number was not as high as I had feared it would be, though um… thinking about it I may have convinced myself I had gained 40 pounds in four months, because my pants have gotten a little tight lately. Body dysmorphia much? Yeah. Anyway!), and then instead of waiting to do my blood pressure in the exam room, the nurse had me sit down and did my blood pressure right there.
Now, my heart was still kinda thud-ly from having dashed across the parking lot and hauled ass up those stairs, so when the nurse took my blood pressure? Looking back it was kind of funny, because she looked at me like she thought I was going to burst on the spot.
After making sure she’d used the right size cuff (she had), I asked if we couldn’t take it again at the end, because I was a) super-nervous and b) had been running late and rushing, so what she had taken was not exactly a “resting” blood pressure reading.
Then we went into the exam room and she took some history, and that’s when I added “Be able to go to the doctor’s office and not immediately go into my Knock ‘Em Dead Standup Comedy Routine in order to try to distract them from noticing I’m fat,” to my list of Things I Want To Be Able To Do When I Grow Up.
After taking my history and chuckling at my jokes, she said, “Go ahead and take off your clothes and put this gown on, and you can use this sheet to cover your lap if you need.” And I tell you, my heart just shriveled in my chest a bit. Seriously, y’all, all I could think was, “Oh great. I get to try to squeeze into some dinky gown here. This is going to go as badly as I’ve been fearing.”
So once the nurse left I took a deep breath, tried to stay calm and started to change. I got my clothes off and picked up the gown and decided to just try to put it on and see how it would go. And so I slid my arms into it and… holy shit. Not only did it fit, it was big! There was plenty of room there!
For the first time in probably ten years, I sat down on the exam table and the gown completely covered my back, and I was sitting on gown, not paper, and I looked at the paper sheet she’d given me to “cover my lap” and didn’t know where to put it, because the truth was, I didn’t need it.
So I sat there on the table, well covered, and took deep breaths and tried to calm down. The doctor came in and the first thing she did, despite meeting me while I was undressed, was introduce herself and shake my hand. Then we talked about my few concerns, she did all the necessary exam stuff, talked a bit more, she ordered a bunch of blood tests, and we were all set.
Not once did she say a word about my weight. Not once did she say anything negative about my body or about anything else.
Granted, I had pulled out the big guns of my Don’t Look At The Fat! Comedy Routine, but still. I can be funny, but I don’t think I’m that funny – if she’d wanted to say something hateful to me, she certainly had opportunity.
Finally, everything was done and my blood pressure had been re-taken and while it was still a little higher than is normal for me, it was well within the normal range, so the doctor wished me a good day and left, and I was free to get dressed again. But first I had to sit on the table and take a few more deep breaths and flap my hands in the air for a while to disperse the tears I could feel trying to accumulate and the lump trying to rise in my throat.
I sat there thinking about all the people who replied to that initial post about my mom, talking about having cried the first time they encountered a doctor who was kind to them. Even though I’ve never been subjected to blatant fat hatred by a doctor, I was still on the verge of tears just from the relief of having gotten through my physical without incident.
So there we go. Yesterday I saw the doctor for the first time since well before my mom died. It scared the crap out of me, but I kept reminding myself that I don’t have to be thin to merit a body that’s as healthy as it can be. I went in loaded for bear, psyching myself up to say, “You know what? Fat is not a disease. If you can’t focus on anything but my size, then this exam is over.” But I didn’t have to. Instead, yesterday was my turn to get choked up with relief because a doctor focused on my health and not the size of my ass.
Who’s next? Because I’ve got my pom-poms ready- okay, they’re invisible internet pom-poms. But I’m still ready to shake ‘em like WHOA! for anyone else out there who needs a little encouragement in getting out there and helping make sure their body is as healthy as their body can be.
Something I said the other day -
To me, I guess, it’s always seemed that if you put yourself down, then you are signaling to others that this is how you believe you deserve to be treated, and don’t expect any better.
I could have said better. Most people will treat me how I treat myself. If I treat my own body as if my health is more important than my weight, then I think that in hundreds of tiny ways, that comes across, and anyone who is receptive to it will realize that they, too, should treat me as if my health is more important than my weight.
Don’t get me wrong – my stomach was in knots the whole time I was at the doctor’s office. But I kept in mind something a very good shrink once told me, which was that sometimes, you gotta fake it ’til you make it.
If we ACT as if our health is important regardless of our body size, then not only will others react in line with that, but it becomes easier to believe it ourselves, so eventually we aren’t acting like we believe our health is important however much we weigh, we really do believe our health is important. And then if some hater comes along, we are SO in a position to serve them up a righteous whuppin’.
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