Now it’s Thorny’s turn to cry…

January 5, 2008 at 4:45 pm 11 comments

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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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sweetmachine  |  January 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm


    Thorn, this post makes me so happy. It sounds like this doctor is for keeps — and I’m really proud of you for facing your anxiety and taking charge of your health. You rock!

  • 2. Fat Gal  |  January 5, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    I am so so so happy for you that this turned into a positive experience. Thank the gods for medicos that can see past all the fat hype.

  • 3. cynth  |  January 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I am so happy for you and envious of you. I have only encountered one doctor in my life that treated me with respect and that was 28 years and 200 pounds ago.

    One day soon I will need to find a doctor and I dread it, it makes me nauseous just thinking about it.

    I hope all your testing comes back with good news!

  • 4. littlem  |  January 5, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Nice, Thorn.

    Also,” invisible internet pompoms shaking like WHOA! ??

    I think I’m gonna book my followup with the dermo (we have to do a mole full body check; it has to do with a single mole on my foot the podiatrist noticed when he was taking care of an ingrown toenail aggravated by too much astanga yoga – I know) just so I can be worthy of that. 😀

  • 5. wellroundedtype2  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Big hurray for facing your fears.
    Thank you for posting your success and fears and all of it.
    I also tend to employ the comedy routine as defense mechanism, but I’m sure I’m not as funny as you are.

  • 6. art3mis  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Congratulations on taking that step, Thorn, and for making it through the ordeal. I am really glad that your doctor seems like a decent person.

    I was doubly sympathetic to this post because I had a physical last week and felt many of the same things. Having read the health horror stories on the fat health blog makes me feel simultaneously scared and empowered; scared that it will happen to me, but empowered because I have the tools to fight back… and a support group to come cry to if it all goes to hell. Luckily it didn’t. You’re right, it is important for us to take care of our health, and I will also support anyone who wants to take that scary step. We’ve got your back.

  • 7. Harriet  |  January 5, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Good for you, Thorny! I’d love to know who your doctor was, since we’re in the same town. I have a fantastic doc and it sounds like you do too!

  • 8. mshell67  |  January 6, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Good for you Thorn!! I’m so glad that you had a positive experience, you have been through so much!! Happy New Year!!!

  • 9. nonegiven  |  January 7, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    What exactly is the etiquette if you have to walk out on a fat bigot doctor that won’t try to find out what else might be wrong because it must be the fat? Do I ask for my copay to be returned and then complain to the insurance company or do I bill them later for the waste of my time they were and then complain to the insurance company?

  • 10. Thorn  |  January 7, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks all, for the support. I appreciate it.

    littlem – I hope you’ve called your dermo to book your followup. If not, you can do it!! *shake* *shake* *shake!!!*

    nonegiven – I think this is one of those situations where there are no etiquette rules, so we’re allowed to make up our own. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought of asking for a refund on my copay or complaining to my insurance company, but I think those are both EXCELLENT ideas! Billing them for the waste of your time may not get your anywhere, but refusing to pay the copay and complaining to the insurance company might actually get you somewhere, and would at least get your complaint appropriate attention.

    I also like that idea because it totally fits into my ideals of semi-belligerent self-love. 😀

  • 11. living400lbs  |  May 10, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    This is rather like my first physical at my current medico’s office, and yeah, I was glad but a bit surprised??

    One of these days I’m going to quit feeling like I’m gearing up for battle when I go in.


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