Fatphobic Nurse Makes Me Say F*ck Seven Times

Bad Doctor

Tristy Taylor is a super cool woman who I met through fat activism.  I think I was first introduced to her via her video Fat Strong Lady, about being an Olympic-style lifter, we connected through Facebook and through various events. A little over six months ago her husband passed away, unexpectedly, in front of her.  She has been dealing with her grief in a way that I think is incredibly brave, vulnerable, and honest – both asking for the help that she needs and sharing her journey in case it helps others.  She is currently doing a “6 Months of Grief Project” and today’s post – about an overdue trip to the doctor –  caused me to shake with rage and, when I posted it to Facebook, to say FUCK seven times, in all caps:

[From me:] FUCK THIS!! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK FATPHOBIA! FUCK HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS WHO THINK FATPHOBIA IS THE SAME AS HEALTHCARE. FUCK. IT.

[From Tristy]”So I ask her. “Are you aware that I am suddenly widowed?” She quickly checks her chart. “Oh yes, I see,” she says. “Well, at least this is one good outcome!” she cheerily responds. Again, I stand there, dumbfounded. I can’t even process what she is saying to me. Is she saying that a good thing coming out of my husband dying suddenly before my eyes is that I stopped feeding myself and lost 20 lbs? IS THAT WHAT SHE IS SAYING TO ME?”

You can read the full piece here. The comments that came after on my Facebook post demonstrated what I already know – that this happens far, far too often. Many healthcare practitioners seem to think that weight loss is not only a good thing (despite the lack of evidence that most people will be able to maintain it, or that it will make them healthier in any case,) but then they take it ever further insisting that weight loss by any means is a good thing.  This is not just ridiculous, it can be deadly. Fat people have died because of this type of malpractice – doctors have congratulated fat patients on their weight loss and suggested ways that they could lose even more, ignoring their patients concerns about an actual medical symptom (unexplained changes in body weight,) to celebrate their body becoming closer to the cultural ideal of beauty.

Healthcare practitioners have missed (and in some cases exacerbated) gallbladder disease, pancreatitis, malnutrition and dehydration due to grief, depression and other circumstances, big ass cancerous tumors, eating disorders, and more because of their blatant, dangerous, deadly weight bias.

Healthcare practitioners owe us more than that. They owe us more than a diagnosis of “fat” and a prescription of “weight loss.” They owe us more than celebrating symptoms of deadly illnesses that they would be immediately concerned about if we were thin people. They owe us more than treatment based on bias, stereotypes, and misinformation spread by the diet and weight loss industries. Healthcare practitioners owe us better than “everybody knows.” They owe us more than a “choice” of pills that can kill us or the amputation of our perfectly functioning stomachs.  They have an ethical obligation to provide us with evidence-based medicine and informed consent, and far too many healthcare practitioners are failing, and far too many other healthcare practitioners are too busy getting defensive rather than demanding better education for, and better behavior from, their colleagues.

Fat bias hurts, fat bias kills, and fat bias makes everything worse, including the horror of becoming a widow.  I asked Tristy for permission to share this and she agreed. I asked her if she would prefer that I share it anonymously because, unfortunately, people and blogs I highlight here often become the focus on my trolls and, showing the bravery that makes her a hero of mine, she told me to go ahead and link to her work. So I’m asking that if you came here because you hate my work, whether you are from reddit, 4chan or some other forum, please direct your aggression at me and not at a woman who is trying to get through one of the most difficult experiences that can happen to someone. Thank you.

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Published in: on February 25, 2016 at 7:22 am  Comments (35)  

35 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’d be one of the ones who had gallbladder issues for 9 months. I knew it was my gallbladder. But my symptoms didn’t come on after eating meals high in fat, and I had attacks in the middle of the night, hours and hours after having last eaten.

    On that level, I don’t blame the doctors for not getting there (even though I had). Even where my pain presented was atypical.

    But on September 4, 2010 I went to the ER in the middle of the night in absolutely agonizing pain. I hadn’t had a bowel movement in over a week. I was horrifically nauseated. I told the ER doctor how I’d been having these attacks for 9 months, and how they increasingly got worse. He ordered an ultrasound to check the gallbladder.

    When he read the results, he came back and said that I had definitely recently passed a stone because the bile duct was dilated. But he STILL insisted my back pain was a “soft tissue” problem, and NOT related to my gallbladder. He ordered a follow up with a gastroenterologist, and sent me on my way with pain meds and anti-nausea pills.

    On August 8th, I was back in the ER. This time vomiting while my husband tried to shield me from sight of other people in the waiting room. My BP was sky high. My skin was jaundiced, the whites of my eyes were bright yellow. My liver was failing. I had a stone stuck in my bile duct. I had pancreatitis. I was incredibly sick. They had to stabilize me for several days before I could even

    I truly believe had I been a thin patient, that first ER doctor would’ve had me admitted and had me set up for gallbladder removal. But because I was fat, my back pain must’ve been something else.

    • Sorry, that was meant to say before I could even have surgery. This is why one should not comment in the middle of the night after taking Tylenol with codeine. *facepalms*

  2. A close friend of mine died in her 30s because fat phobic doctors made her afraid to get treatment and her ovarian cancer didn’t get diagnosed until stage IV. Ironically, today would have been her 49th birthday.

  3. Also, I am grateful every single day that the doctors at the clinic in the small, rural town where I’ve lived the last 20 years *never* make weight an issue. Neither do the nurses. In fact, at one time or another every one of them has said some variation on, “You can’t lose enough weight to regrow the cartilage in your knee. Who told you losing weight would fix this?” We struggle with money sometimes, and sometimes people ask why we don’t move somewhere with more opportunities, but when I think of changing doctors and facing the usual BS, staying here is more than worth the struggle.

    • Who told you losing weight would fix this?”

      Thank you!!!!

      I want to ask those medical professionals who complement folks on weight loss when it wasn’t intended, “So your good with the weight loss even though it might be a symptom of a very serious-even lethal- disease? What kind of ghoul are you?”

      I also want to inquire that, given they are not okay with the scale weight, can I just lose muscle mass to meet the weight goal the have for me? Because I can do that relatively easily. Just stop lifting weights.

      Guess good health ain’t the goal with some medical “professionals”.

    • A previous doc told me I had arthritis in my knees after I begged for an x-ray, since I have been in a bus crash, and several dozen falls on stairs and concrete. He said a diet would cure it.

      A nurse friend of mine also has destroyed cartilage.

      • Yeah, that happened to both my dad and my mother-in-law. Both of them were denied proper treatment for years because they “just needed to lose weight.” Never mind that they could barely walk.

        • I love my doctor. I don’t want to give him up. It irks me no end that I may be forced to, but he kindly promised to take me back, once I don’t HAVE to be with someone else.

          My doctor is amazing! I hope I die before he stops practicing, just because I want him to be my doctor at the very end.

          Not that I hope that happens any time soon, but you know what I mean. After some horrible experiences, to find someone like him… YEAH! I’m scared silly about having to change.

          • Even if it’s only temporarily. Just scared silly.

    • I have to agree with you on that. Quality of life trumps money. And having medical practitioners who actually PRACTICE MEDICINE – Sorry for the yelling, but gee whiz, I’m right up with Ragen on the swearing scale, here.

      Yeah, I’d put up with a lot less opportunity for money and career growth, just to have doctors I know and trust. Because that way, I’m more likely to have better health and a longer life. That higher salary, mixed with fat-hating doctors, could be a death sentence.

      Gotta choose your priorities.

  4. I’d have slapped the bitch.

  5. I’m hypothyroid and in late 2014 my thyroid decided to wake up and get busy, so I suddenly had too much thyroid hormone running around in my body. In addition to feeling sick as a dog and like I was losing my grip on reality, I also lost a significant amount of weight in about two months. (Feeling nauseated 24/7 has a tendency to make you not want to eat.) And of course I got compliments… from doctors, from acquaintances, from people I’d considered friends. I got really good at replying, “I’ve been very sick. I could have died” in a completely deadpan tone. Tristy’s story really takes the ugly reality of fatphobia and sizism to a whole new level.

    • Oh, the thyroid. Why do people keep claiming that you’re lying when you say you have a wonky thyroid? Why do they say, “that’s just an excuse!”

      People with healthy thyroids have NO idea they havoc a wonky thyroid can cause, especially if it can’t decide whether it’s going to be hypo or hyper or just spin around in circles, singing Lalalalala. Mine made me see stars and tip over (as in literally could not stand up straight) for days at a time. Yeah, try working out like that, healthy people! Pbbtbtbtbtbtbtt!

      My thyroid is currently under control and I have it tested regularly, because there is no telling how long it will last. Good luck with yours!

  6. In 2007 I broke my arm and restricted from most movement. Lost 30 pounds and my health professionals were happy about that. Except it was 30 pounds of muscle mass and I lost the ability to squat and have never regained it though the weight came back on when they recommended I start moving again. Bah.

    • Let’s say it together – BMI is a CROCK!

      Body mass is a worthless measurement, unless you’re figuring dosages or weight allowance on a vehicle. Body COMPOSITION is a thing.

      Bah, indeed. And Humbug, too!

  7. I’m currently putting off getting treatment for cellulitis.

    I live in a country with free medical care. I know what I have (I’ve had it before). I know that, as someone who has had blood poisoning 3 times in the past, I am prone to infections and therefore need to get this treated.

    And yet since Monday I have just been overdosing myself on antibiotic and immune-boosting supplements so I can hold the infection at bay until the weekend.

    Because at the weekend, I can go to the local walk-in centre and get treatment which will be designed to get me in and out as fast as possible. I know I can go in, tell them I have cellulitis, show them my symptoms, state my medical history to them and come out with a prescription for antibiotics. But during the week, because my GP works Monday-Friday, they will just refer me to my GP.

    The last time I went to my GP with this exact illness, she didn’t even examine my leg. Just told me that I was fat, that a swollen leg was probably a blood clot and I needed to travel (way further than was practical) in order to get a scan. I had to actually refuse treatment in order to get my GP to – grudgingly – prescribe me with antibiotics.

    I’m afraid enough of what the consequences might be if I have a record of repeatedly *refusing treatment* that I would rather suffer an infection for an extra 5 days and risk it spreading, than go to her.

    • Sounds like you might have lipedema. Cellulitis and leg infections are relatively common. Kmom just posted her 8th Annual Turkey Awards about it and has put loads of info. wellroundedmama dot blogspot dot ca /2016 /02 /eighth-annual-turkey-awards-weight-bias dot html

      I hope you get some proper treatment.

      • My Mum has had this for over 30 years. She also gets regular infections in her legs, the last time she was in hosputal nearly 5 weeks in recovery and treatment. She was allowed home Christmas Eve 2014 which was 4 months after my Dad had died in tge same ward of the same hospital.

        I’m not even sure she’s been properly diagnosed nevermind treated for it. She’s 64 and this has been a huge problem in her life since I was born, in 79.

        • I just discovered through Kmom’s series of posts last year that I have this too. I’ve also put it together concerning the low blood flow in my legs, and the dizziness. It must be because the blood and fluids get trapped down there and never reach my head. 😦

          That is awful to hear about your 2014.

    • Oh, my gosh! I just want to hug you, and I’m scared for you. I hope you get better soon!

  8. I remember my grandmother, who suffered from crippling arthritis and Parkinson’s, saying that she’d go to the doctor’s and complain about the pain. The doctor would tell her that she was “old”. She was in her 90’s at the time. She said that being “old” shouldn’t be a reason to have pain. I think it’s the same with being fat. I really like this blog. Thank you!

  9. I want to join in the F Bomb Fest! Horrible! People like that make me embarrassed I work in health care, even it is Pharmacy I work in and not as a doctor or nurse.

    • Don’t be embarrassed. Be an example!

      I heard of a pharmacist trying to deny a patient pain meds, because “Just lose weight, and the pain will go away.”

      You’re in a position to show others in your field how to do it right! We need more like you.

      • I’m a tech, not a pharmacist. But I’ve been trying to combat the anti fat bias and wrong assumptions about weight and health when I hear it going on for years now🙂

  10. While I’m not in the same predicament as Tristy, I too, had to grieve a long-term relationship recently and was unable to eat for a sustained period, which led to slight weight loss (like, very slight, because my body ferociously maintains weight with every fibre of my being). I’ve had one coworker in particular comment positively on this, and when I explain that I’m grieving and lost my appetite, she continues to chat about weight loss as a good thing, regardless of cause. I managed to keep myself from swearing and losing my shit at work (because I fully wanted to curse her out and call her a few choice names) and instead said firmly, “No. It is NEVER a good thing to lose your appetite and/or weight due to illness, grief, trauma, or stress.” and then I walked out of the room.

    • Now, I want to hug you, because I’m so proud of you. You kept your cool and made your point. Way to go!

      Also, I’m sorry for your loss.

  11. That nurse should write a book: Losing the Love of Your Life – Best Diet Ever!

    Because who needs nutrition when you’re plunged into grief and mourning and wondering why you should even go on without him? I mean, really?

    /Sarcasm off

    OK, I want to load up a PC game and viciously whack bad guys now. I’ll picture them in this nurse’s uniform, as anthropomorphic images of the evil that is Fat Hatred. Orcs? Goblins? No! They’re medical practitioners! Oooooh!

  12. Currently fighting a local health care provider for fraud and discrimination. Went in for sprained fingers but was given a finger stick to check my blood sugar. yep, I’m fat. Medical assistant taped my fingers and handed me half a roll of surgical tape then charged my insurance $85 for a brace. No one commented on my weight to my face (which was shockingly refreshing), but the bill that was submitted to insurance showed that I was treated for being morbidly obese and counseled for weight loss. I nearly went back to the provider ready to set it on fire. I gritted my teeth and filed a formal complaint with my insurance company instead. If I had been in Tristy’s shoes I would have punched someone. We need some sort of buddy system to make dr visits better. I am so sick of this garbage.

    • Maybe they get more kickbacks with a “discussed weight loss” than “treated a sprain”. This horribly skews medical stats and records. Should be made illegal with jail term.

      • Enter Sarcasm Font *Or maybe they just ASSumed she sprained her fingers as a result of constantly shoveling fat filled high calorie food into her mouth while lounging in front of the tube on the couch all day long. Other wise she wouldn’t be fat y’know! “EVERYBODY KNOWS” (especially lazy medical practioners) that’s why people are fat, it’s their own fault!* End Sarcasm Font, with a snort of disgust because what I just typed is sad, infuriating, and true.

      • Yep. And the worst part is that I never would have known this happened if I hadn’t received a bill I never should have received. I consider myself pretty savvy, but you can’t fight what you don’t know. And you can’t fight for yourself when you’re grieving or exhausted or sick or depressed.

    • I actually have been recruited by friends, both fat and thin, to accompany them to doctor appointments to help them advocate for themselves. They know I have a strong skepticism of doctors as a result of having a physical injury dismissed and misdiagnosed as my being Young when I was barely grown. An injury that would easily have been corrected with proper treatment early on, but is now permanent as a result of the “treatment” I received. The friends know I don’t believe that Doctor Knows Best and that I tend to think all doctors are guilty until they prove themselves innocent, and that I don’t mind saying so to a doctor’s face. Sometimes it works better than others. I did help a friend, who weighed 400 pounds, finally get treatment for the respiratory illness she’d had all winter long that she was prescribed weight loss for, of course. But the doctor also told her she needed to leave the “rabid little attack dog” home next time if she wanted to continue as a patient, and the doctor continued to prescribe weight loss for every ailment. My friend died in her 30’s from a health problem that I suspect she’d have survived if she had been smaller and given correct treatment in time.

      • Argghhh. So sorry that happened. I’ve been fantasizing about a world where we all get a doctor advocate. I’m so glad your friend had you.

  13. I do hope she reported that doctor. Upon seeing that she was a recent widow, the only appropriate response is “I’m sorry. How can I best support you?”

  14. As a nurse myself, I want to say that this is shitty, shitty medicine. No one has the right to treat a patient this way. Not ever.
    There was so much fatphobia when I was going through nursing school that it wasn’t even funny. It was encouraged. It’s wrong, it’s horrible, and it needs to stop. If you are a health care professional who treats your patients like this so called nurse, you are wrong. Period. You are also bad at your job. You should also be ashamed of yourself.


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