Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did I tell you about my appointment with the doctor?

On a wet November afternoon, sitting on the examination table and wearing a paper gown, I wait patiently to see the family doctor for the annual check-up. I'm feeling somewhat conflicted. I haven't seen her since 2009. She's been having kids, I've been having kids, so another doctor tended to my appointments. Despite the long lapse between appointments, I certainly haven't forgotten how she completely dismissed my concerns regarding my eating issues and request for help.

"There is something wrong me and how I eat. Dieting has become so difficult..." 

She cut me off before I could finish. Before I had the chance to remind her of my eating disorder history, significant weight fluctuations and previous attempts to resolve my eating issues. She responds with: "Dieting is difficult for a lot of people, you just need to stick with it."

I stare at her blankly while she yammers on. I'm pissed. And disappointed. I was hoping to get a referral to a psychologist or a psychiatrist that specializes in eating issues. Thankfully I knew that there was something wrong me and did not let her deter me from seeking help. She confirmed that I need to take the matters into my own hands. 

As you know, since that appointment, I found a cognitive behaviour therapist and fixed my demented thoughts about food and eating. However, I wanted to ensure that other patients with the same concern as me would not be routinely dismissed as I was. Another patient's quest for help could easily be shut down by a doctor, and go back to thinking that there is nothing wrong. 

So I was conflicted as to how to get my point across. 

I thought of the Pretty Woman approach; "Remember the last time I saw you, I told you that dieting had become difficult and you told me to suck it up, that dieting is difficult for a lot of people? Well, just so you know, I found a therapist, she confirmed that I'm not a normal eater, I was diagnosed with EDNOS and dieting is one reason why I'm like this. Big mistake. BIG MISTAKE. Huge."

Of course, I would leave the "big mistake" part out from my speech, but like Pretty Woman's Vivian, I felt snubbed. Not by a Beverly Hills boutique sales person, but by my doctor, and I wanted her to know that.

In the end, I took the high road. I decided to stick to the facts without the drama and the anger. I told her about cognitive behaviour therapy, my eating disorder diagnosis, the impact of decades of dieting and how it contributed to my condition. We discussed my new weight loss strategy (no dieting, eat healthy foods). She responded positively and I'm hoping that she will remember this discussion for the time when another patient comes to her with the same concerns.



  1. It has become more and more apparent to me over the years, that we have to take our health care into our own hands and not rely on our GPs for it.

    Good for you for looking after yourself and finding a specialist you trusted, to work with you and help you solve your problem.

    1. Thanks Elle. I agree, we have to be our most supportive advocate. I've heard there are businesses out there now that provide medical advocacy too.

  2. Good for you!

    I've had similar issues with my regular doctor, as well, but not exactly the same. Mine had more to do with how my naturopath was concerned about the fact that I'd been on birth control pills for 25+ years and that I was on Lipitor, etc. and she got me off all those things, diagnosed Lyme and pretty much healed me in many ways! My reg doctor is rather passive!

    1. I'm glad the naturopath was on the ball, that's great that she has made such a positive impact on your health!

  3. Too bad she wasn't supportive initially. Maybe you will impact a real change in how she approaches this topic in the future.

  4. About a decade ago I went to my GP seeking Fen Phen. I thought if I could JUST tame my appetite I could lose the weight (keeping it off would be something to deal with later!)

    He said "Here's a thought. How about no fen phen, but you get off your lazy butt and exercise and stop eating enough for two people. You are weak willed. No pill will fix that. I am tired of you people."

    I did not say a word.

    I instead went home and downed the refrigerator without chewing. I felt lost, hurt and on some level he affirmed every ugly thought I had about myself. I have had only one other doctor that has been so terrible since and I did not leave his office in silence.

    I wonder if your doctor ever made the connection. If she ever modified her behavior or suggested therapy after hearing it worked for you.

    1. This makes my stomach turn with absolute disgust when I read what that doctor said to you. Weight bias is easy to see in our society, but it is also rampant in health care.

      It almost makes it worse since doctors and nurses are supposed to understand and help us, rather than turn our eating and food issues it into a moral judgement, which is what we do all on our own.

      Interesting to note, I also was trying to figure out how to kill my appetite. I actually did not realize that Fen Phen did that.

      I would have been devastated if a doctor spoke to me the way he did, and like you, I would have been too shocked to say anything. I'm glad you spoke up to the other doctor who talked down to you.

      No, I don't think she did make the connection, but I'm hopeful that she will remember cognitive behaviour therapy for other patients.

    2. Sometimes the body docs have no regard for the mind docs.

      I think even if I ended up being able to kill the appetite I would not have remained thin. You do have to change your thinking. People think it is not possible, but it is. It takes effort for sure. More mental effort.

      Oh I was plenty devastated.

    3. It makes my stomach turn as well...

      And here's an irony: I had a doctor who was willing to give me Fen Phen and I took it and lost 40 pounds...and stopped eating pretty much everything and had constipation like you wouldn't believe, not to mention I couldn't sleep because my heart was constantly racing. I stopped taking it and went on to regain the 40 I'd lost and then another 40.

      Thankfully there's awareness and education and people like all of us who are out there fighting the good fight!

  5. I am tired of you people.

    Wow. As though every overweight person has exactly the same problem. I thought most GPs had standard recommendations - Weight Watchers, TOPS, the South Beach Diet, whatever. And some encouragement wouldn't have gone astray either.

    And I wouldn't be surprised if Karen's doctor never made the connection.

    1. I know, I'm thoroughly disgusted by that doctor! Sure, the doctor may think it's all about willpower and lack of motivation (which its not), but be a professional and come up with a answer that doesn't make the problem worse.

      Plus, if the doctor is "tired of you people" maybe the doctor should educate himself on the very complex issues associated with obesity.

  6. i love the pretty woman approach and use it often. :)

    1. Ha! The pretty woman approach would be so satisfying!


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