About a week ago I had a telephone appointment with one of the Gps from my practice. I haven’t had much interaction with this Dr and it did not go well.
After a brief conversation about the symptoms concerning me, she suggested we start with some basic tests and swiftly moved on to checking my weight. I asked why she wanted my weight and explained if not medically necessary I did not want to be weighed. The Dr replied that she would like to calculate my BMI. I told the Dr that BMI wasn’t scientifically sound and I didn’t want to discuss it. I’m sure you can guess how the appointment went from there.
It was the usual gaslighting and time wasting. According to the GP she would be negligent if she did not assess my BMI. I reiterated my objections to her weight focused approach, all of which were dismissed. The appointment was taken up with this back & forth instead of actually discussing my actual problems. I have informed various practitioners at the surgery about my preferences with regards to being weighed, discussing weight loss etc. I have disclosed my history of disordered eating and how intentional weight loss is detrimental to my mental health. I’ve also discussed the harm caused to me by weight stigma, which includes near fatal misdiagnosis and long term health implications. All of these conversations should be recorded in my notes as per my request. Yet still, I find myself regularly having these interactions whilst trying to access medical care.
Given our in-depth conversation about why I wouldn’t be weighed without solid medical reason, I had hoped that might be the end of it. I was fairly surprised when I saw the nurse yesterday for bloods and she asked me to ‘hop on the scale’. I gave her my standard, I don’t do weighing unless medically necessary. The nurse then told me that the Dr had specifically noted that she must makes sure she weighs me. I was internally furious, but calmly explained to her that I had already told the Dr I wouldn’t be doing that. Luckily, she left at that.
I am chronically ill. I have lots of interactions with medical folk. I am flat out exhausted before we get to the fat phobia. I often don’t have the fight in me, but I’m forced into battle. There is no let up. If I don’t assert myself I will not get the care I need. I know from bitter experience just how dangerous that is. The problem remains that even when I do stand my ground, the medical profession is want to shove back. Either I am entirely ignored or I am labelled difficult. It’s endless and wearing.
The persistence of these attitudes feels like a war of attrition on the patient side. It’s draining. No matter how many times I make my wishes known, they are ignored. Coming to appointments armed with facts, evidence and clear description of how this weight stigma harms me, makes no difference. Today was a classic example of this. I wasted my time discussing very personal & traumatic experiences with a Dr in order to justify declining to be weighed. She simply set it all aside and took action that she knew would harm me. I shouldn’t have to justify not wanting to do things that are not necessary or helpful to my treatment in the first place. However, it is clear regardless of how much time & energy I invest in explaining why intentional weight loss talk is detrimental to me, medical professionals will not listen. The stress of always having to be prepared for a fight is immense.
I will of course take steps to address this latest event with my practice. I can only hope they take action to protect me. It won’t bring the discussion of my weight to a close. There will still be another specialist, nurse or hospital consultant who views me as first fat and second a person in need of medical care. Right now the knowledge of that is way too overwhelming.
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