There is a sharp pain in my right side and I refuse to go to the doctor about it.
Here is why:
When I was 7, I went to my first fat doctor.
I remember sitting there naked with my father who had brought me in and having these two older men of power judge my young, female body in a way that felt like such a violation of my whole being.
The doctor talked to my father, around me, asking why one of my nipples was different than the other. I remember my father embarrassingly telling the doctor that I played with the bigger one constantly.
Then the doctor wrote down a diet plan, handed it to my father, and told me that if I ever wanted a boyfriend when I grew up, I needed to lose weight.
He then also told me I’d never be able to breast feed my future children if I didn’t stop playing with my nipple. After that, a nurse took my blood and gave me a lollipop for being good.
When I was 13, I got an ovarian cyst.
It was my second time having one, so I knew what I was feeling. It hurt when I walked, it was halfway through my menstrual cycle and the pain was almost unbearable when I pressed against my side.
Still, the young male doctor who pushed his fingers far inside me without a warning and pressed firmly right on the spot where it hurt most of all, didn’t believe me. He made me out to be a hypochondriac, blamed the pain on period cramps (even though I was mid-cycle), and said one cyst was rare enough at my age, the chances are I didn’t have another one.
“I can’t feel one,” he said, “not that I could with your belly in the way.”
He then offered me a prescription for the diet pill Fen/Phen and pointing out my abnormal nipple and pubescent breast growth to a student nurse in the room.
When I was 18, I got another ovarian cyst.
And it felt like a repeat of the same nightmare. Again, the young male doctor couldn’t feel anything through my belly and his frustration was taken out by literally yelling at me to lose weight. I yelled back that I wanted an ultrasound and, sure enough, there it was, a massive inflamed cyst.
He still refused to do anything about it and I stayed in bed for two weeks in pain.
When I was 26, my mother got diagnosed with breast cancer and blamed it on her love of ice cream.
Because weight is a factor her doctor listed on reasons why women get breast cancer. She’s also blamed her hesitation to go out in the sun, because lack of Vitamin D is also one of the listed reasons.
When I was 28, I went into Planned Parenthood for an STI screening and got a lecture about my weight.
“You’re doing something about that whole weight thing, right?” the female doctor said, looking at my chart, not at me. “Getting exercise?”
“I ride my bike everywhere and walk for at least an hour a day,” I said, which was true. I had just found out my (thin, considered healthy until he got cancer) brother was going to have his jaw removed, so I was constantly moving my body to keep away the tears.
“Well, make sure you get some cardio in there,” she said, closing my file and dismissing me.
When I was 29, my brother died, and I lost weight, and everyone congratulated me on it.
When I gained it back months later, my aunt warned me about eating my feelings. Then handed me a dozen cupcakes she had brought by for my family.
Just last week, my perfectly healthy friend died of a heart attack.
She was thin and athletic her whole life, the daughter of two physical education teachers. Every doctor I go to warns me that I will die young if I don’t lose weight, but I’ve been to three funerals in two years of people under age 30, all of which were thin.
And yet here I am, still alive.
There has been a persistent pain in my side for 36-hours and yet because it is in my belly, in my fat, I am afraid to go to a doctor. I am afraid of the poking and prodding into my self-consciousness, afraid that I will waste my time only to hear my issue being blamed on my belly’s size.
At some point, if this pain doesn’t go away, I’ll have to brave a doctor, but for now, I’d rather deal with an unknown pain in my side than step into the nightmare of the doctor’s office.
P.S. Here’s the great conversation that happened when I tweeted out “I hate how much I hesitate to go to the doctor for my stomach issues because I know they’ll just fat shame me.”
@QueerieBradshaw My last few doctors have been really awesome about my fat stuff but my anxiety about that ending is always there.
— Andy Duran (@EducatorAndy) April 18, 2014
Having a bad day? We’re giving out free hugs!
— Lauren Marie Fleming (@QueerieBradshaw) April 18, 2014
Also check out my past post on the #NotYourGoodFatty movement on Twitter.