Judy’s Story

So many of us struggle with hateful attitudes toward us on a daily basis; we should disjoint our shoulders patting ourselves on the back that we go on thriving in spite of experiences like Judy’s:

It really is amazing how once you’re X pounds overweight, you’re no longer human. I went to a neurologist recently, and I have to get a spinal tap done, which, he said, because of my weight, they can’t do except under fluoroscopy (they couldn’t find my spine, I guess?). I have to go to radiology to get it done, and right after my doctor informed me of this, he said, “We’ll have to call and make sure radiology has a needle long enough,” and then laughed. I guess this is to be expected from doctors (according to a few older overweight friends who’ve had plenty of medical problems) but in my teenage naivete (I’m only 18; I’d never even gone to the regular doctor on my own, my mom always went with me) I was shocked and devastated. I can’t get the idea out of my head that doctors are supposed to be there to support you and heal you, not crush your spirit.

Right on, Judy. This story reminded me of when I had to have an ultrasound a few years back. The whole experience was humiliating, not least because of the part where they make you drink water until your bladder is the size of a basketball. I’m naked under a paper gown in a roomful of fully dressed folks. The tech finally has the radiologist come in, and he’s not happy with the abdominal view, he wants to switch to a vaginal probe. After various embarrassing machinations which I’m not even going to go into, things are lubed up and good to go. I’m obviously uncomfortable with the procedure, and the sadist at the controls says, “Well, I’m not trying to hurt you; if I wanted to hurt you, I’d hit you with a sledgehammer.” Yeah, dude, just exactly what a vulnerable naked fat young woman wants to hear when she’s lying on a cold steel table with her bladder about to burst and a hunk of plastic in her vagina! Nice. Is it any wonder lots of fat people avoid medical care as much as we can? How hard is it for someone with the brains to get through medical school to understand that when you’re in a room with someone who’s naked, cold, vulnerable, and concerned about possibly significant health problems, “jokes” of any kind are completely inappropriate!

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