I Have to Join a Cult Before They’ll Mutilate Me

My trip to the doctor this morning was fine, except for the whole “you’re fat” part. I got to hear about the wonders of Weight Watchers and I got told that she wouldn’t recommend me for lap band surgery until I had tried on my own to lose weight.

It was as if you thought you were in the same car with someone going in the same direction and all of a sudden, the car splits in two and she is going down a road you are not on.

I feel like I totally failed to advocate for myself, but I’m sure the look of dawning horror on my face as she described chipperly how she’d be happy to let them mutilate me once I’d shown, through my adherence to the cult of Weight Watchers, that I was trying. God, that trying nonsense.

I’m a bad fatty, because I don’t even fucking bother to try. But you know why? Because no trying is enough. Eat “right.” Exercise. Eat less. Exercise more. Eat less than that. Exercise more than that. Join this program where they take your money. Join that program where they take your money. Make it your second job to lose weight. Let them cut you open in a “minor” way and mutilate your insides. Let them cut you open in a major way and mutilate your insides. Turn your whole body into a source of constant deprivation and suffering.

And for what?

All the health problems I had, I had when I was a “normal” weight. They just remained undiagnosed because they’re conditions fat people have. Well, now I’m fat.  The heart issues that are lurking, are coming down both sides of my family tree like a slow moving lightning strike aimed straight at me at some point.

So, basically, I should get thinner so I look right.

I fucking hate it.

I hate it so much.

That we can sit there and she can, in her chipper voice, talk about what I’d have to do to prove that I deserve to be mutilated.

Like it never occurs to her that I don’t want to be mutilated at all. I don’t want to join a cult to get to deserve that.

I just want to feel okay in my own body and not like I don’t deserve to exist as I am.

36 thoughts on “I Have to Join a Cult Before They’ll Mutilate Me

  1. I hope that the rest of the day and your week is better than this morning was. Strange to watch someone else’s mental process peel away when you thought you and she were following the same trail. It’s jarring. I hope you can shake it off soon and get back on your path.

  2. Please put this in an envelope and send it to your doctor. She has never thought of things this way (obviously) and needs to know that she is alienating some portion of her patients with her current approach. She probably earnestly believes that she is advocating for your health and hoping to increase your chances of longevity and vigor by recommending weight loss and exercise. However, whatever positive message she hoped to convey is obviously getting lost — and not just on you.

  3. Seconding Bridgett. Your doctor needs to know that she lost you completely with that jeremiad, and when and why. “First, do no harm” and all.

    Not all patients would be remotely interested in being surgeried to correct a “problem” in the dotor’s eyes that is emphatically not one in theirs. And she’s obviously not aware of that fact.

    I can all but guarantee you that you’re not the only patient she’s said those things to, nor the only one who’s had that same stunned and horrified reaction. She needs to know that.

  4. Come join the state of TN insurance plan. Then you get to have your doctor and your very own health coach tell you to lose weight and provide helpful tips on how. And if you don’t let them lecture you, you’re out of the program and have to pay more for your insurance.

    This year all you had to do was take the screening. Next year you have to let them tell you how to do better. I suspect in 2013 they’ll start having performance goals.

  5. I third Bridgett and Jess. If you like I can also get you the funeral cards from the two friends/family I had die this summer as a result of bariatric surgery. You can put those in the envelope too. “See what your well-intentioned yet prejudicial barbarism can lead to?”

    I wonder if she counsels her patients with sickle cell to go back to the womb and try for a different spin at the genetic slot machine?

    Setting aside my venom, I am so very much sorry for you. I’ve been right where you are and doubtless will be again. I’m not one to love the whole (((hugs))) thing, but trust that I truly mean it here. These kinds days are like a rape on your mind and soul that leave you raw. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

  6. Wow, that’s sort of unspeakably awful. I mean, it’s full of lose for her in terms of philosophy and practice, but it’s a lot worse than that for you, having to be at the receiving end.

  7. Bridgett, weirdly, she did not advocate exercise. And, you know, I am fat. i certainly expect my doctor to mention it. But I was telling her about the weird weight fluctuations that I’m having and she just shrugged it off like it wasn’t that big a deal or something.

    So, that makes me feel like I’m kind of uncomfortably close to the “you’re lying” situation with my old doctor, which I mentioned to her. I mean, the reason we found the PCOS was that my diet and exercise didn’t seem to match my weight.

    But I guess now that I’m medicated, if I’m still fat, NOW I’m lying or not trying hard enough or something. I don’t know.

    W., they have something similar where I work. When I asked them if the information I gave them was protected by HIPPA and they said that they would never tell anyone what I told them and I asked them again if it was protected by HIPPA and they yet again promised they would never tell anyone, I told them to just put me down as a crank who refused to participate.

    Seems to me like a way for my employer to get around HIPPA laws in order to know shit that’s not their business.

    Anyway, thanks to lunch with the Professor, I’m in a better headspace.

    Thank you all for your kind words. It’s fine. it just threw me for a loop.

  8. Ah. It sounds like part of the problem may have been a misunderstanding. You’re there, bringing up your weight fluctuations as a symptom. She sounds like perhaps she mistook your reason for asking and thought you WANTED to lose weight. Like she thought your “huh. This is weird. Seem weird to you?” was instead “I’m bummed that my weight is out of control”.

    Honestly, I was wondering why she even went there. Everything I’ve seen lately coming out of the Risk Management community (viz. journal
    articles re. Malpractice suits) says that physicians should avoid broaching the topic of weight loss unless specifically mentioned by the patient first. There’ve apparently been a fair few claims filed/settled for Mental Anguish.

    In addition, physicians and dentists are both coming to the realization that scaring one’s patients is actually _worse_ for their health, as they will avoid treatment. Both my gyno and my rheumatologist have told me this.

  9. So sorry your doc subjected you to that BS.

    I have fantasies about the future when people will look at the obesity panic the way we now look at bloodletting and leeches and talk about how backwards and ignorant we were in the early 21st century.

  10. Oh, no, Coble. She brought up the weight thing and the possibility of lapband surgery and in response, I brought up the whole “my weight has been fluctuating weirdly and I’m wondering if that’s something I should be concerned about” trying to push the conversation back into “Let’s talk about my symptoms, not my looks” territory.

    It failed.

  11. Ugh. I’m sorry that happened, B, and I second the recommendation to send your comments to the provider (and to share them when called by the generic feedback system if applicable – I think you’ll know what I mean?).

    I need to post something soon about talking to two different providers about PCOS, the first basically making me resolve to never go back because of her approach.

  12. I’m sorry your doctor made things unpleasant. I always wonder if they’re getting kickbacks from these pay-to-lose-weight schemes. I hope you’re able to get the answers you need/find a care provider who’s not wholly immersed in the culture of everybody-must-be-thin!

    ’cause fuck that noise.

  13. Can you change doctors? Because as much as I’d like to hope that we can educate some of them, change their behaviors and beliefs, recent experiences of trying to do just that haven’t worked. And your first responsibility is to protect yourself.

    You know about the list of fat friendly doctors, right?


    Everyone, add to it if you know a good one! Because heaven knows there’s plenty of bad ones.

    I’m ready for a run-in with my fat hating orthopedist next week. Can’t wait to see his reaction when he launches into the badgering he’s given me about my weight at every appointment, but this time I’m going to cut him off and say we’re not talking about this anymore. No. We’re done. Stop.

    Hang in there. You’re right. She’s wrong.

  14. I had a similar conversation with my gynocologist. I have uterine fibroids, big ones, and she kept talking to me about surgery. And I finally said, “Listen, I’m totally asymptomatic. I have no interest in surgery for cosmetic purposes (poochy belly). If I start having pain or problems, then we can talk about surgery.”

    And she finally backed down, but not without a parting Wicked Witch of the West shot, “I’ll get your uterus yet!”

  15. It’s really mind-blowing to me that she just jumped to the conclusion that you were considering the lapband surgery. That’s just a HUGE leap, EVEN if one took the notion that you should/wanted to lose weight as a given (not that one should take that as a given).

  16. Starting to wonder if the whole “your fat” message isn’t some sort of sales pitch, along the lines of this crap I got from HCA/Tri-Star in today’s mail …

    There’s a lot of money to be made in the obesity business, and now with more insurance companies paying for it, no wonder for-profit hospitals are bellying up to this cash cow.

  17. Sorry you had to deal with that (been there done that with my doctor, who is no longer my doctor for that very reason). You should ask her what she would recommend to a thin person who came in with weight fluctuations that had no explanation – no change in diet or exercise habits, but weight is going up and down for no apparent reason.
    Also, those problems in your family tree that may be headed for you? Aren’t caused by being fat – even thin people have them and doctors don’t advocate weight loss as a solution to thin people who have them so why do they think weight loss is going to help a fat person with them? Getting a doctor to look past weight for the real cause of a problem is nearly impossible unless you can find one who isn’t fat-phobic or can educate the one you have.

  18. My workplace has tied whether we all get our bonuses (which are based on profitability and productivity) to whether the company as a whole loses a given amount of weight.

    As it turns out a) we’re a big company and so the goal was made pretty easily and b) they don’t actually check on the (voluntary) participants, so lying about it would be pretty easy and I’m sure is happening.

    But like you, I’ve had to tell my boss that no, I won’t participate, because what I weigh is none of my employer’s beeswax, so forget filling out an online health survey or taking part in this. Like you, I have no confidence that this information is secure in their system.

    But mostly, I’m bloody-minded enough to think that if my employer doesn’t like paying for my healthcare, they should be going to the govt to get some nationalized healthcare going on instead of harrassing me or threatening the bonus I earned while being whatever weight I already am.

  19. Oh god, i read what the makers of Lap-band say about the drawbacks. 88% of people who have it experience side effects. Among the most common side effects are the band slipping or moving position (1 in 4) and stoma obstruction.

    And they don’t know if or how many times they’ll have to go back in to make adjustments or replace it or whatever over the course of your life.

    Wow, yes, please, let me be your guinea pig, Lap-band people. This all sounds perfectly safe and better than being fat.


  20. Well. I take it back. I was trying to be all understanding of Dr. Fatist. Nevermind. Perhaps I should send her those journal articles and my doctors’ numbers.

    Yeah; the lapband is ridiculous. When a surgery’s main selling point is “we kill fewer people this way” you know it’s medieval.

    I saw Ann Wilson profiled years ago on a tv news magazine show. She had the lap band installed and lost a bunch of weight. It was the typical Fatist propaganda of “my life sucked and everyone hated me and now I’m thinner and life is great. Also, I have to work out five hours a day.” it’s been several years. I think I should google her and see where she’s at now…

  21. OMFGoodness!

    A) the lap band surgery Ann had was 2002. She is now the heaviest she’s ever been.

    B)in looking for info on AW I stumbled on a forum for lapband users. Completely indistinguishable from the Weight Watchers Forum and the South Beach forum. All shame talk about how they plateau with the band because their mutilated, starving bodies crave nourishment. A lot of shame talk about Wilson for being fat again, etc.

    Apparently the lap band can be easily beaten by things like sodas and milkshakes and frozen yogurt so most band wearers plateau. Don’t you think medical professionals would start to realize that when only 5% of folks who lose weight maintain the loss for 5 years and even carving out their stomachs, detouring the intestine and tying off the stomach with a rubberband fails to work…that maybe, just maybe some people are fat the way some are tall and some have perfect pitch? Fat is a variety, not an aberration.

  22. Jeeze… even as this discussion was going on, a friend on facebook noted that she’s going to go to Mexico to get lap band surgery because it’s so much cheaper, and her insurance won’t cover it! I wrote that maybe with an 88% rate of complications she might be concerned about then not having a local doctor to help her? Her response? “I know a couple of people who had the surgery and they’re doing just fine!” It’s like people are willing to completely throw out critical thinking as soon as it comes to weight. Statistics? Data? No! Not if they stand in the way of my thin, happy future!

  23. Whoa, Coble. I didn’t know that lap-band surgery was only as effective after 5 years as dieting. Damn. That definitely makes me think SB’s right and this is some kind of “How can we get money out of insurance companies?” scam.

    O.C. wow. That is scary. The thing that set off red flags for me, too, is that it looks like almost 1/3 of people who have lap band surgery have some kind of complication that requires them to go back in.

    It’s like, damn, how many surgeries am I actually signing up for here and how do the risks of repeated surgeries stand up against the risk of me just remaining fat?

    My morbidly obese grandfather lived into his late 70s. My obese grandmas were 89 and are 90. My thin grandfather died of a heart attack at 65.

    Fatness in my family doesn’t seem to necessarily correlate with early death.

    And, again, damn, that she wants to talk surgery without talking about increasing my exercise or addressing my weird weight fluctuations kind of scares the crap out of me.

  24. I have a feeling that the fear and pissed-offed-ness that we experience as fat people is a much greater health risk than the fat itself.

    On a lighter note, your comment about your thin and fat relatives makes me think of the cast of “White Christmas”. Who died soonest? Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye, the thinnest actors. Then Bing Crosby, slightly chunkier. And who lasted the longest? Rosemary Clooney! Go, fat Rosie!

  25. And let it be noted that Vera Ellen suffered from complications of anorexia that made her progressively more unemployable (damaged teeth…all those high necklines to disguise the disturbing collarbones and neck tendons…lost the collagen in her skin) and ultimately (along with ageism) the pressure to maintain the smallest waist in Hollywood damaged her career. She smoked like a chimney to kill hunger pangs and she died of cancer at the age of 60.

  26. Fuck the fat haters, B. Someone (that asshole doctor) needs to discover the Health at Every Size movement and stat.

    My lovely childhood doctor told my growing self I was morbidly obese and started me down a path with my body that has never quite gone away no matter how much counter-propagandist fact my brain absorbs about how BMI is utter shit that has nothing to do with health. (Morbidly obese my dimpled white ass; someone should have noticed that “growing tits on a tall girl with a big frame” does not equal “gonna die of TEH FATS” but that’s asking a whole lot, apparently.)

    Which is why I love my doctor now, because instead of my weight he looks at important factors like my blood pressure and my cholesterol and tells me things that are true, like “you are healthy, but to be healthier you should get more exercise and stop smoking” instead of shaming me about my body. He’s in Gallatin, but let me know if you need his number.

  27. Pingback: Does Anybody Here Remember Vera Lynn? « Just Another Pretty Farce

  28. FYI, my weight fluctuates like that thanks to some genetic thyroid troubles. The fluctuations are still around now that I’m on meds for it, but they’re less extreme.

  29. W, I think you’ll find that a very high percentage of heavier people can trace their initial weight gain to a medical issue. In all the research I’ve done into bariatric medicine, there is _seldom_ a “just ate too much” reason for obesity. We can trace gains to birth control, childbirth, thyroid issues, SSRI/SNRI meds, convalescing illnesses like mononucleosis, PCOS, testicular cancer, menopause–the list goes on.

    That’s why the farrago of “Eat Less, Move More” makes me so angry. Sure that may work if you are trying to lose the 10lbs you gained on a cruise. But for metabolic interference gains, it is too oversimplified and leaves the heavy person with a lot of mistaken impressions.

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