I am not big because I sit around all day stuffing my face with food. I don't eat junk food. I don't drink pop. I don't binge either. In fact, I eat less than 1200 calories a day. I am large because I have a disease that went unchecked for over 35 years (largely because doctors see an overweight person, label them, and make up their minds that "they just aren't trying hard enough") called lipedema, which turned into lipo-lymphedema because the disease advanced. I am currently stage 3 and holding out hope that I won't reach stage 4 anytime soon. But that's another story. You can read all about what I have here.
Last month I saw a surgeon about the gallstones. To give you an idea of the kind of prejudice I go through with doctors and my disease, he wrote on his chart that I was 400lbs, without even weighing me. I am pleased to say I am NO WHERE NEAR that size. But this gives you a good idea of what he was thinking about me while he was talking to me. He informed me that not only did I have gallstones but I had a hernia as well. He would prefer to not touch the gallstones (since they don't bother me [and they really don't]) and because it's so difficult to operate on people of "my size". He then proceeded to tell me that I should stop eating junk food, getting fast food, drinking pop, etc. (all the things I don't do) if I ever hoped to be operated on. I tried to tell him about my disease and he said to stop using that as an excuse. I then tried to tell him I didn't do any of the things he mentioned and he said, "Well you're obviously doing something. You're only lying to yourself." A typical male doctor. Prejudiced and judgmental. He was very lucky I didn't bop him on the nose!
He then told me something "funny" was growing on my hernia. When I asked him what he meant by funny he said, "Unusual, you know...odd." Odd? Funny? I guess I should be relieved it's not cancer because if it was he wouldn't use the word "funny" right?
Flash forward to today. I saw another surgeon (referred to me by the other one) who is going to perform an endoscopy on me to look at this "funny" thing on my hernia. This doctor came in and said he was glad to see that I wasn't 400lbs. and wondered why the other doctor would write that in his chart. He said he was very glad that I wasn't because operating on a person of that size would have been difficult. Good...already I feel better. A nice doctor who isn't judging me. Off to a good start. He then added, "But operating on someone of your size is also a dangerous thing."
Sigh. Moving on . . . he wanted to discuss the "funny" thing the other surgeon talked about. Apparently it isn't growing on my hernia, it is growing on my esophagus and according to him and my medical charts it's been there since my last CT scan (several years ago) that no one bothered to tell me about! He then informed me that it was unusual because it looked like metal. Metal!?! He then asked me if I'd had any operations on my stomach. Nope. Only my legs and abdomen. "Well then," he asked. "Have you swallowed something metal?" I racked my brain. "Maybe it was a penny when I was a child?"
For some reason back in the 60's, mothers used to bake coins into birthday cakes. Could I have had a nickel or dime in my stomach for all that time? He said it looked calcified so...maybe?
"But it could be diverticulitis."
"Whatever it is I'll take it out when I do the endoscopy."
"Okay. Great. So what about my hernia? Are you going to fix that?"
"Well you have two hernias..."
At this point my inward dialogue is something like this: "Why am I only getting little bits of information at a time about what is going on inside me? For crying out loud this is my life, my body. Be truthful and stop hiding things from me! Do all doctors do this? If it's cancer will they even bother to tell me?
Okay, so I have two hernias. How did I get two hernias? Then the thought popped into my head about all my exercising (I do sit-ups in a vain attempt at thinking it will make a difference. I know it won't but I do them anyway).
"Would doing sit-ups have caused this?"
"Sit-ups would definitely make it worse."
Of course they would! (BTW, he never answered the question).
"So . . . the hernias? Are you going to fix them?"
"No...a woman of your size ..."
Really? You're going there? We were doing so well...okay...so a woman of my size?
"Makes it dangerous to operate on you. So unless they aren't bothering you we'll leave them alone."
Really? So all the coughing I'm doing after and during each meal and every drink I take isn't bothersome enough?
"When they start getting painful ... sharp ... excruciating pain ... we'll fix them then."
That's what the other surgeon told me in regards to my gallstones. But he was more, "When it feels like you are having a heart attack, then we'll take them out."
So basically if you are big and you need surgery don't count on it. But if you are in so much pain that you end up in the ER you might luck out and actually get fixed!
If you don't die waiting to be seen in the ER. Which in Canada is a real possibility.