Ok… a couple of days ago, I wrote a blog regarding an unpleasant ER visit at a hopsital close to me, Hennepin County Medical Center on Friday.
Unfortunately for both them and me, I ended up with a bilateral bright red burning rash on both my arms, yesterday. I also had a really bad cough that I had for several weeks and should’ve been obvious to the doctors (I own the cough though,I am a smoker with asthma, and save your judgments, PLEASE) that my cough was an issue but I didn’t make it an issue on Friday because I was UNBEARABLE abdominal pain. I lived with unbearable abdominal pain for almost 7 years ,though, before my gastric bypass was reversed.
I’ve been a Size Acceptance and Fat Acceptance advocate for many reasons, just like I choose to remain in the Weight Loss Surgery community for the same amount of time. One of the many reasons I do activism and advocacy for Fat Acceptance because I’ve been stigmatized by doctors or not treated right. Just because I’m fat. It gets worse if you add that I do have severe chronic pain and mental illness. I’ve NEVER had any co-morbidities due to “obesity”. Almost every health issue I have medically and some mentally is everything I’ve done in my life to get thin and stay there.
There’s a look that I get when people find out, especially if they have an “M.D.” after their name, when they find out I’m a gastric bypass reversal patient but that I’m fat. I’ve already gone into details of why I gained so much weight before my reversal because of psych meds.
When I try to explain to my friends online and off of the look I get from doctors when they find out I’m a fat reversed gastric bypass patient, I tell them to imagine if they saw a unicorn on crack. Because that’s the look I get from most people not just doctors. It’s the “how does someone have so many FUCKING gastric bypass problems that they get reversed but still are so FUCKING fat again????” (note: if you are curious of where I’ve been pic of me in different periods of time both before and after gastric bypass and reversal is on my all time favorite blog of mine, “Ugly Hurts” . However I look like crap when I’m either walking around Minneapolis or in an acute care facility)
So again, to go back to last night. I end up at the Urgent Care at HCMC, because my cough is causing me problems and I want to rule out issues with my rash (which I realize today when it’s gone, it must have been one of the side effects from Macrobid and I had quite a few) and to rule out pneumonia. I live in the Downtown Minneapolis and we are getting snow, and I didn’t want my cough to get worse and then for me to have to out in the snow, was my reasoning for going to the Urgent Care, last night.
So I get there around 5:40 p.m. last night and am pleasantly surprised that they aren’t busy. I get roomed right away and the nurse is starting to give me trouble because I’m complaining about a lot of stuff, some of it which is my normal. She makes a biting comment that if I mention too many more symptoms, I’m going to have to to their E.R. So I back down. She goes out and this really super nice physician’s assistant comes in.
Other than my adored primary care physician of 16 years, I don’t think I’ve been talked to or treated by any other medical professional with such kindness and compassion without it being inappropriate, in my life.
The problem is that with my cough that brought an occasional left side chest pain, she doesn’t comfortable treating me at all and wants me to go to the E.R. to rule out a possible or potential heart attack. Once she said that, I couldn’t pay much attention to anything else she said. She says that I won’t have to go through the waiting room and that a nurse will be back shortly to take me to a room in the E.R.
By the time the nurse comes back (it was the same one who assessed me), I took one look at the wheelchair and thought there’s NO WAY IN HELL, I am going to back to that E.R. I try to tell her that politely and she was really rude. I just said that I just left that E.R. less than 72 hours ago in terrible pain. While they did something they didn’t do in my book, enough. And she got defensive about that, I walked out and I could hear as I was walking out, say to that physicians assistant, snidely “she’s leaving”.
Who in their FUCKING right mind would stay? Seriously? Keep in mind, I used to get sent home from Fairview University Medical Center with ulcer perfs and projectile vomiting blood and they wouldn’t even do a test on me. This was long before I ever took any ibuprofen. I’ve drug abuse tested a trillion times. For many years now.
I guess I at first chalked up my experiences at Hennepin County Medical Center in that 72 hour period as not stellar but could’ve been worse. Like Fairview University Medical Center worse, although I’ll give my bariatric surgeon credit. He did go way out of his way at times and he’s an amazing surgeon.
Then I realized something this morning. They do treat pneumonia in their urgent care. As nice as that physician’s assistant was yesterday,I left that hospital almost in worse shape last night because I didn’t receive ANY care last night and I have to wonder if her resistance to treat me was due to weight bias. Meaning if I would’ve been thin would’ve I been treated the same way?
I understand that acute care facilities don’t get into lifestyles. They don’t have the time, especially at a Level 1 trauma center. At both though my urgent care visit and my E.R. visit they knew I was having trouble eating and had both new onset of symptoms as well as certain things were my normal that are not everyone else’s.
The “MD-PTSD” what I mean when I refer to that, is the fact that I have a lot of horrible anxiety about seeing doctors now. And it’s justified. I’ve been unfairly labeled as an attention and drug seeking hypochondriac with a weight loss surgery failure for so long now, that it’s just going to be almost impossible for me to see any other doctor than my PCP and I find that really sad for me. As well as many of my friends, who experience weight, chronic pain and mental health bias.
Not every patient who’s seeing a doctor is looking for drugs or attention. I understand my circumstances are different because I can be in unbearable pain and get myself to an acute facility, especially one that I only live 2 blocks away. But given the diversity of our neighborhood out here, in Downtown East Minneapolis, I don’t know what it’s going to take for me to see another doctor again.
Just like I don’t know what it’s going to take for all doctors not to label patients. Not every patient who walks in the E.R. and is fat is a walking time bomb. That prejudice fails both thin and fat patience because thin patients have heart attacks, too. Not every patient who lives a more singular existence with mental health and severe chronic pain issues is looking for attention or drugs,just like not every weight loss surgery patient develops a “transfer addiction” after weight loss surgery.
But until doctors who do carry bias that end up harming their patients more than helping them, realize that HARM they are causing to patients, I’m going to be an activist and advocate for people who don’t have a voice.
It’s just terribly sad that as we become more technically evolved, we are getting worse in our judgments of people. Especially at the time when they need compassion the most. When they are medical or mentally sick and/or in crisis. And compassion won’t matter if bias effects a providers ability to provide adequate care.
Note: Again I own my barriers. It bears repeating that I’m not a dream patient. I’m just not a provider’s worst nightmare other than I’m kind of a medical anomaly of sorts. Things like pregnancy, gastric bypass and Mirena, while most women don’t have problems, all 3 three nearly killed me (and no disrespect meant to my children, as they were so worth it) And I really respect with the diversity of people that providers at HCMC have to treat, with some patients who are hostile, if not violent, the threat they are up against everyday. And that can happen to any hospital but it’s more likely to happen at a county hospital.