Today for Say Something Sunday, I want to tell you the story of how Rebecca absolutely killed it advocating for herself at the doctor’s office. Before I tell you that story, I also want to be clear that nobody should have to deal with this kind of fatphobia at the doctor’s office or anywhere else, and that not everyone can/wants to handle it the way that Rebecca did, and that’s ok. This is just one example of how you might advocate for your own medical care.
I had to go get some breathing/respiratory tests yesterday. I had never been to this clinic but had met the doctor at another clinic before and had liked him.
I go in, chairs have arms but they are wide arms and I fit in them so I say nothing. I wait for the tech to take me back.
The tech, who I’ve never met takes me to a scale and says he wants to weight me and get my height. I ask if he will be prescribing any medication or having me be on a machine that has a weight limit. He says no.
I say I don’t want to be weighted then, he doesn’t need it and it’s detrimental to me.
He just stares at me and then asks if I know what my weight is and he can just write it down. I tell him that he can make a visual assessment and that is all he needs. He complies.
We go into the room and he carries out a series of breathing tests and then wants me to get into a chamber that I will not be able to fit in. He says “Oh, you’re too big”.
I say “No, I’m a patient. You do not have the proper tools to service your patients it seems.” He blinks and then nods and says I’m right.
Then they want to take blood. The chair they want me to sit in is a no go. I ask for a proper chair. It is brought.
They can not find my pulse. I am told that it is because my wrist is too round. I say “No, I am a patient, I would expect you to sort out how to do this without pain”. I stop the efforts and tell them not to jab me, that I take back consent. What I would have liked to have said that I thought of later: If you can’t get a proper vein/pulse, then get a machine or something that can- not my job.
I DID suggest that I go to a lab to get blood work if it was necessary. Apparently it was not.
I felt EXHAUSTED but really victorious. It never occurred to me that I could tell them to stop and that it was the fact that they did not have the appropriate tools to serve me properly. But it’s TRUE.
I did not get any hostility, just shock and then compliance. And I got a diagnosis and full treatment plan. So none of it impeded my care ultimately.
I had your cards for dr visit advocacy with me! I read them over for strength before going in!
I particularly love the way that she kept making it clear that her existence wasn’t the problem, and medical fatphobia is – far too often healthcare practitioners who lack the skill and equipment to properly treat fat people try to blame that on their fat patients, and the less we allow them to get away with that, the better.
The cards I created to help fat folks advocate for themselves can be found here!
If you have a story of self-advocacy in the doctor’s office, it would be awesome if you would share it in the comments.
If you want more support to fight fatphobia, join us for the Fat Activism Conference!
The Fat Activism Conference is all online, so you can listen by phone or on your computer wherever you are. Plus you get recordings and transcripts of each talk so you can listen and read live and/or on your own schedule. The conference is happening October 6-8, 2017!
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