Yesterday, while eating dinner with my husband and mother-in-law, Oprah was on the TV. The show was about health. One segment (the first) was about a woman who had a 140 pound tumor in her stomach, and how she finally was able to get it removed after 20 years.
Now, Oprah had a doctor on the show, Dr. Oz (and you know he was a doctor because he was dressed in scrubs and had a stethoscope draped around his neck), who questioned the woman as to why she let the condition go on as long as she did. She said when she first was feeling sick, all those years ago, she went to her family doctor. His diagnosis was that she was fat, and if she just lost weight, she’d feel so much better.
Okay, how many of you reading along expected that one? Right?
The thing I didn’t expect to hear, was Oprah’s pet doctor then scolding this woman on national television telling her to “just find another doctor” if she was so sure something was wrong. And then he went on to say that, at over 300 pounds (remember, she had a 140 pound tumor) it was very hard to diagnose her correctly anyways because she couldn’t fit into the scanners.
Excuse me? Blame the victim much here? How about a side dish of humiliation on top of that?
We, as a nation, are raised to treat doctors like gods. We, as a nation, are taught (by our parents, grandparents, the doctors) that we don’t know anything about our bodies, and they, the Almighty Doctor, knows everything. If we get told by a doctor “it’s nothing, you’re just fat, lose weight and everything will be fine”, then, by golly, we just need to suck it up and lose the weight. Because, obviously, we’ll be so much better if we do.
And when we can’t lose weight, for whatever reason (140 pound tumor continueing to grow, there’s no way that lady could EVER have lost that weight without surgery), we’re told that we just don’t want it bad enough (and for it, substitute whatever the supposed goal is — better health, ability to have children, not being tired all the time, etc).
But back to the point here: Oprah’s pet doctor told a woman, who was conditioned all her life to do whatever the doctor said, to “just find another doctor”. Yeah. Have you TRIED finding another doctor? One that will actually look at what your symptoms are and not just presume that your being fat causes every problem you have? It’s extremely hard to do so.
One of the problems that a person facees, in trying to find that perfect doctor that will diagnose the real problem and not be lazy (because just blaming every symptom on a person being “fat” is very definately lazy) is that a person gets the reputation for “doctor shopping”. “Oh, s/he’s only looking for somebody to tell them what they want to hear.” I got that myself, from my own mother-in-law last year, after being diagnosed fat for a knee injury last year.
But hey, no problem, just find another doctor.
The lady on Oprah got “lucky”. She became really ill right before Easter, and went to her doctor, thinking she had a flu. Something in her exam wasn’t right, and she went to the hospital, where another doctor thought to put her in a scanner and found the huge tumor. They took her in for surgery right away, and she’s recovering.
But yeah, she really should have “just found another doctor.”