Fat Shaming in the Medical World

Every now and again I retell the story of how I was rushed to hospital in 2011 with severe abdominal pains. I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary that day, and I hadn’t been ill, yet suddenly, out of nowhere, I was hit with excruciating pain on my left hand side. I held out five hours before I decided I had no choice but to seek medical attention.

The paramedics arrived and asked me lots of questions and poked and prodded me around a bit. Their conclusion was that I’d had a rasher too many of bacon at breakfast and had severe constipation. I knew it wasn’t, but it didn’t surprise me that’s what they’d suggested. I was overweight, and that’s all that medical professionals ever see. They even made me walk to the ambulance. It was the longest, most painful walk of my life, but they thought the exercise would do me good. (I wish I was joking). They didn’t use the sirens on the ambulance, they just ambled along in the traffic. I mean, come on, I’m only fat, no emergency here.

I was admitted into hospital over Easter, and all the senior doctors were away. So for three days I was left in pain in a hospital bed. I was taken for various tests and scans, but nothing came back. A couple of the junior doctors asked why I looked so bloated, and I replied that I’d always been that way.  Most people, including my own mother, felt I must be exaggerating the pain and that as all the tests came back clear that there was nothing wrong with me. It wasn’t until the following Wednesday (I went in Sunday evening) that I was sent for another scan and they found the cyst. When I was coming out of the scan the staff were muttering and looking at one another with concerned expressions. Suddenly doctors were swarming and I was rushed off for an emergency operation. The last words I remember hearing before the anaesthetic kicked in were “…and she’s just been left here like that for all this time? Poor girl…”

Turned out that the cyst was 12ins in diameter, 2st in weight, and was holding 2 litres of fluid. The doctors in the hospital couldn’t understand why it had gone unnoticed for so long, but I understood.

I’m fat. And when you’re fat, doctors don’t see beyond that. If a 2st cyst had been protruding from the belly of a thin person, they’d know something was wrong, in fact the cyst wouldn’t have even gotten that big, but because it was on an overweight person they didn’t even stop to consider it was anything other than me being fat. That’s all I’ve ever known when it comes to doctors. No matter what I go in for, it ends up being because of my weight. And, of course, the answer to all my troubles was to lose weight. The unspoken words were always, “Lose some weight and then we’ll talk about whether you might actually be ill.”

Speaking with a few people on twitter today it seems I am not alone in this experience. Worst of all is that it seems to be acceptable for medical professionals to treat us this way, and that makes me really angry. I would love to hear your experiences with doctors and the like. Whether you’ve been treated badly, mistreated, had genuine illness dismissed, share your story!

 

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6 thoughts on “Fat Shaming in the Medical World

  1. Just read your shocking experience, and really hope you are by now loads better (that’s BETTER, not THINNER). It’s dreadful to be categorised by weight rather than symptoms, The medics should be ashamed of themselves. My very best wishes for your future health xx

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  2. Oh that’s awful, I’m so sorry you went through that. Sadly, you’re bang on with what you say though. It seems that if you’re overweight then that is always the problem when you see a Dr, it’s so wrong, it shouldn’t be allowed. It surprises me that it does happen tbh, maybe I’m naive, but Drs take that vow to care for people, surely that includes fat people? Makes me so mad to hear all these stories of people suffering because Drs ignore their problems just because they’re fat.

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      1. I’ve been go through a rough road with gyno problems and found that I had to go to media for a specialist to help me or I would still be in bed at home in pain
        They found some serous stuff going on but I’m mad about how anyone gets treated these days by some medical people even my birth was a nightmare
        And they get away with it.
        Sorry you had to go through that and i hope your better
        But your story will help others

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It really is shocking that these things happen; and worse, are common occurrences. I am sorry for all you have endured and I am glad you have received the medical help you needed, but sorry that you had to go to such extreme measures to get something you should automatically be entitled to. I hope in the future that medical people are able to start treating the person rather than the labels they give us. Best wishes x

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