By Beth Donovan, ~INDYGIRL
It's not easy finding a doctor you like, especially when you're overweight. Some unlucky patients are simply told that their symptoms will go away if they lose weight, without any diagnostic testing to see if there is any other underlying cause for health issues. While it is true that being at a healthy weight is optimum, it is not true that being at an unhealthy weight is the cause of all health problems. Yes, being overweight exacerbates many health issues, but sometimes there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed--such as chronic pain or depression--before the patient can make any progress. If properly treated, a patient might feel better and thus be able to move more, and therefore lose the weight. So how do you go about finding a doctor who will look further into your situation than just what shows on the scale?
(Note: I'm not a health-care expert, but I am a strong advocate for respect for people of all sizes. These are simply some tips that worked for me and other people I know.) If you want a physician who specializes in dealing with obesity, check for doctors associated with bariatric hospitals, which are the hospitals that perform weight loss surgeries. Doctors affiliated with those hospitals have more experience with larger patients and are often more understanding of the special health issues they have. You don’t want a surgeon; you just want an internist or a primary care physician who is associated with the bariatric hospital.
If there are no bariatric hospitals in your area, opt for an internist, if your insurance and/or budget will allow.
To find the doctor who is right for you, you should first call and ask questions--before making an appointment. Explain your conditions and find out if that provider is qualified or has experience dealing with your conditions. Ask if the care provider has experience dealing with people at your weight and if they are sensitive to the issues that arise with being that weight. If you get satisfactory answers to your questions over the phone, then set up an appointment. At your appointment it is important that you are very clear about your issues and conditions, as well as how you would like to be treated.
This is what I had to do to take my health back. I had grown tired of doctors telling me to “just lose weight,” and “just get out and walk,” with my degenerative spine, herniated discs, and pinched nerves, I couldn’t. Yet, the answer I kept getting from the doctor was either have weight loss surgery or just walk. When the doctor did finally send me to one specialist, he referred to my large abdomen as “that thing” as in “Have you got any hernias in that thing?”
One specialist wouldn’t take my case because of my weight, and another told me to stop making excuses about my pain without offering any solutions to my herniated discs. My pain was debilitating, and I slowly stopped moving and began living in bed.
I also have clinical depression and am bipolar, so that needed to be addressed with medication as well. Many psychiatric medications cause weight gain, so I needed a doctor who really understood the severity of my need to lose weight and my need for sanity. My anxiety kept me awake at night eating, and my depression kept me in bed all day eating.
Why am I telling you this? Simply to show you that weight and non treatment of your other symptoms are solid reasons to go find a good doctor and take the bull by the horns.
After doing what I described in the first part of this blog, I found an internist and nurse practitioner team who helped me greatly. They were able to get me in home physical therapy, provide a walker when I got strong enough to use one, pain medications, anti-depressants and all the other things I required to get myself out of bed and moving again. They helped me with my goal of getting my life back and being able to do the exercise and lose the weight that was so crucial to my good health and well being. I am now 124 pounds thinner, and I simply started by addressing my health issues and setting Fast Break goals.
I’m not saying everyone has a bad doctor or that everyone needs medication. What I am saying is that if you’re out there and you want to take your life back, and your medical team is not giving you the tools or time of day, find a new medical team. Sometimes there are underlying medical reasons we become overweight or stay overweight and we owe it to ourselves to address those issues and have care.
Have you ever had a bad experience with a doctor or health-care provider because of your weight? What did you do about it?
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