Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First: Do No Harm

It's a national pastime in America to think about our weight in a self-detrimental, non-constructive manner.We've made weight synonymous with both health and beauty and, by in large, have agreed to these definitions either via active participation in stereotyping or by complacency. Perhaps at no place have we accepted this more than at the doctor's office. At the doctor's office, a cure for any ailment a fat person has is diet, exercise, and subsequent weight loss. Broken leg? Lose some weight. Trouble sleeping? Lose some weight. High blood pressure? Lose some weight. AIDs? Lose some weight. Or my shining moment: Getting enough exercise and cutting chemicals? Lose some weight just for the funsies. This might seem extreme or funny, but if you've ever been to into the doctor's office and experienced tis, you know what I'm talking about. And you should know that prescribing weight loss for all medical conditions is unfair and unsafe. If a thin person entered a doctor's office with any of the aforementioned ailments, she would be given adequate and proper medical treatment. If she had high blood pressure, her doctor would start her on a regimen designed to lower it, and that progress -- the "progress" of weight loss -- would be monitored. In the end, either her blood pressure would lower or her doctor would work on a different regimen. She would not be made to feel like she was the failure, nor would she be told that there was anything wrong with her outside of having high blood pressure (unless, of course, she suffered from another medical condition). Her doctor would, most likely, be positive and supportive throughout the process and sympathetic if it failed.

So what do you do when your doctor only sees you as a number on a scale that needs to be lowered before you can be medically assessed as a member of the human race? Ragen Chastiain, tremendous fat activist and fellow blogger, suggests that you demand your doctor show you evidence that what he is prescribing has been proven effective in the majority of people to cure your ailment. If your doctors prescribes weight loss, demand to see evidence that long-term weight loss (weight loss lasting 5+ years) is possible in the majority of cases. He will not be able to show you this evidence, because it has "worked" for only about 5% of people. Now, if your doctor is like my doctor, he will still insist that weight loss is necessary. This is when you've got to strap on your biggest pair and self-advocate. Demand to be given the same advice and expertise he would give to his thin patients. Demand shame-free health care. Remind your doctors that obesity and stress correlate with pretty much exactly the same illnesses and diseases. Point out that he is causing undue stress. In the end, it's your healthcare and ultimately your health. If your doctor refuses to handle it with care and dignity, find a doctor who will. Here is a site to find doctors that practice Health at Every Size and will see past the weight loss to the actual medicine.

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