“You’re doing something about the whole weight thing, right?” my doctor asked yesterday, without looking at me. She seemed more uncomfortable about the number my body registered on the scale than I was.
“It’s been a rough couple years.” I said, making excuses for my weight. Fact is, I’ve been 210 pounds since I was sixteen. The rough years, the ones I’m blaming for my size, those were the teenage ones, years ago. Yes, the past year and a half has been horrible, and yes, I’ve had some weight gain throughout it, but I’ve always ended up back here, at 210, no matter how little I eat, how much I exercise or how many pills I pop.
When doctors point out I’m overweight, I always want to respond, “Really?! Wow, no one has ever told me that before! Thank you for opening my eyes. I’ll go fix that right now.” But I never do. Instead, I usually just lower my gaze and hope they finish the lecture I’ve heard a million times soon so I can get back to feeling mildly uncomfortable instead of horribly uncomfortable.
Inevitably, my weight gets blamed for everything physical and emotional I feel during a doctor visit.
I’m depressed. I have a lump in my breast. My stomach hurts every time I eat. I can’t breathe. My bladder hurts when I pee. All because I’m overweight. Or at least that’s what doctors have told me. For each of these things, I’ve had to push my doctor to check them out, and all of them ended up being substantial issues that caused me pain that could have been avoided had my doctor just not automatically jumped to the conclusion that weight was the only issue at hand.
Yes, weight is an issue, being overweight can cause an array of horrific health problems, but being fat isn’t my only issue. Hell, it’s far from the top 10 issues that are important in my life right now. It’s not even in my health top 3. Not hurting myself from my horrific depression that I’m in right now, #1. Getting my appetite back so I can actually eat something without wanting to vomit from stress, #2. Exercising at least an hour a day so I can build up endorphines, #3.
“Do you exercise,” that same doctor asked me only a few seconds later. “I walk or ride my bike for an hour every day,” I replied. “Make sure you get cardio in,” she said, looking at me from over her glasses. Um, isn’t walking and riding my bike cardio? “I do. Daily,” I said again, with an emphasis. “You’re doing something about the weight thing then. Good.”
Later on, when she had her metal specula opening me up and was painfully scraping my cervix with a wooden popsicle stick looking thing, I was still more comfortable than when she asked me about my weight.
I’ve had wonderful doctors that have addressed my medical need to lose weight in such a wonderful, caring and successful way that I actually listened to them, because they actually listened to me. One of these doctors was a lovely lady named Dr. Phoebe Ashley, a cardiologist in Eugene, Oregon that I would recommend to anyone in need of any kind of doctor. I was training for a 500 mile bike ride and was having chest pain. Where most doctors would have told me I was just too fat to be riding that distance, Dr. Ashley actually ran tests and found that I am, as I’ve suspected after years of not being able to breathe, asthmatic and the pain in my chest was caused by my lack of oxygen.
Instead of just telling me to lose weight, she listened to me. Together we came up with a plan to help me breathe while I’m working out, which in turn helped me get better, more efficient exercise, which theoretically could have helped me lose weight if I hadn’t had to stop taking the asthma meds when I ran out of health insurance. Now I’m back to not being able to breathe, but it was magnificent while it lasted and the first thing I’m doing when my insurance comes back is going to Dr. Ashley and working out a way I can work out vigorously again.
Dr. Ashley didn’t judge a book by its cover, or in this case a patient by her number. She saw me as a human being, someone whose weight is only a part of who they are.
I wish all people would do the same.
The Healthy Challenge here at QueerieBradshaw.com isn’t about a number on a scale. It’s about health. Actual health, at any size. I try to remember that when I’m down on myself for my weight or let others attack me for it. I want to be healthy, not skinny, because they aren’t always one in the same.
My goal is to be able to play longer, live longer and fuck longer. I want to feel better, not feel better naked. I already feel great naked.