What it’s like going to the doctor as a fat person.

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    I am visiting their own families when my hearing cuts out.

    Its scary to abruptly lose one of your senses. Everything sounds muffled, like the people speaking around me are behind a closed door at the end of a long hallway, remote and unreachable. The ache in my ears is sharp.

    I feel my breath shallow and quicken, nervousnes beating its hummingbird wings in my ribcage. First, because something is so clearly incorrect. And second, because I will have to go to the doctor, and I am fat.

    As I walk into the office, I steel myself for the charm offensive Ill need to wage.

    As a fat person, my health is always suspect, and never more than when I step into an unknown physicians office.

    The nurse and I chat away as she takes my vital signs, though I still strain to hear her. As we speak, she takes my blood pressure once, then frowns. She takes it again, then another appear. She excuses herself and comes back with another cuff, trying a third hour. Nervous, I ask her what the problem is.

    Im merely not get a good read, she says, adjusting the second cuff.

    Is everything OK?

    Its coming back great, but that cant be right. Overweight patients dont have good blood pressure.

    Its a familiar moment that Ive come to dread. Even with her trusted equipment, even with the numbers clear as day in front of her, she cannot should be noted that I am healthy. She anticipates poor health, and anything better becomes invisible.

    I have entrusted her with my health, and she cannot see it.

    Eventually, the doctor enters. Both of my ears are infected, and Im prescribed antibiotics.

    He gives me detailed instructions on how to use the eardrops and advises me to take all of the medication as prescribed. As the visit wraps up, I ask the doctor if theres anything else I should do for aftercare.

    You should lose some weight .

    This moment is familiar, too. It leaves me disappointed and unsurprised. When I attempt medical care, many providers merely seem to see my weight. Whatever the diagnosis, weight loss is its prescribed therapy. I explain what I eat, how much I exert, my history of low blood pressure, and general good health. It only rarely influences my course of therapy. Because the biggest predictor of my health, even in the eyes of professionals, is my dress size. I have proven myself an irresponsible owner of my own body. Every detail I provide is suspect.

    And I am not alone. Many fat people find the doctors office which should be safe, confidential, and constructive is instead a home for shame and rejection .~ ATAGEND Health care providers congratulate fat people for their eating disorder, they tell patients they should lose weight if they want to be beautiful, and fat people are given lecturings on weight loss instead of receiving medical treatment.

    Like all of us, health care providers can be products of a culture that teaches us to dishonor, exclude, and be disgusted with fat people.

    Often, it can show in their therapy of fat patients.

    A growing body of research shows that physicians are less likely to show empathy for fat patients, attaining many unable to take in important diagnostic datum .~ ATAGEND Doctors are more likely to describe fat patients like me as awkward, unattractive , noncompliant even weak-willed and lazy. Because despite extraordinary training and expertise in medication, health care providers are products of a culture that shames and rejects fat people. And those notions notify important, sweeping health care policy decisions. When thin friends and family talk to me about my health, this is a part they almost never imagine: Getting basic health care, from regular check-ups to minor interventions, involves tenacious self-advocacy . Because in the doctors office just like the rest of the world I am forced to defend my body at every turn merely to get my basic needs fulfilled. Unlike other patients, I must prostrate myself, prove that I am worthy of treatment.

    And thats constructed possible by the way we all talking here being fat all of which muddies our ability to measure health in more complex, precise routes. I think we use lose weight and get healthy interchangeably. We repudiate fat people accounts of their own weight loss endeavors, opting instead to believe that they simply havent tried hard enough, or dont know how.

    When we talk about fatness as the merely real measure of health, we bypass many other pieces of the puzzle: nutrition, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, mental health, family histories. We ignore precise, important measures of health, collapsing all that complexity into the size of someones body, believing that to be the most accurate and trustworthy measure of a persons health. This is what happens to me. My health is disregarded, all because of how I look.

    In order to get accurate diagnoses and real treatments to fat patients, well all need to examine our own thinking about fat people and health.

    Changing the conversation around fat and health will take more work than that but its a place to start. Because as it stands, few of us are willing to believe that fat people could have health problems stemming from anything other than their fat bodies.

    Read more: www.upworthy.com

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