Friday, May 22, 2015

News flash: Doctors don't know everything

As a nurse, I know that doctors don't know everything more than the general public realizes. Yet, I still managed to make myself believe that when I went to my physical today, my doctor would have a magical answer for my weight loss woes. He didn't. He told me things I've heard a million times before: more strength training (done), more protein (done), more smaller meals (done), different kinds of cardio (done), get more sleep (ummm, not done, but I like my early morning workouts too much to swing this one). The one useful thing he did tell me was that when you've lost as much weight as I have, your biochemistry is permanently altered in a way that is different from "normal" people's, and weight loss becomes much more complicated than calories in/calories out. They don't know why this is, and they have no way to change it. While this is disappointing to say the least, it is at least somewhat of a relief to finally understand more about why I am not losing weight despite burning many more calories than I eat per day. It drove me crazy the way the math just wasn't adding up!

My doctor gave me the speech I've become accustomed to over the past year or so. I hear a version of it from many people, and I always have a mixed reaction to it. He told me I needed to be proud of all that I had accomplished, and be proud of being able to maintain my weight. He said that he doubted 1 out of 1000 of his patients could do what I have done. He said I was very, very, healthy and looked great right now. You're probably thinking, who wouldn't want to hear a speech like that? I mean, it's really flattering! So yeah, part of me likes this speech a lot. But part of me gets frustrated by it. I am well aware that what I have done is pretty darn amazing and I am proud of myself. But me being proud of myself doesn't take away the fact that I know I can accomplish more. It doesn't take away the fact that while I have lost a massive amount of weight, I still have a bit more to lose. It's not like I have body dysmorphia and weigh 100 lbs and think I still look fat. I legitimately still have more weight to lose. But it's like all anyone wants to tell me is how I'm good where I'm at. So yes, that is frustrating. I need someone to help me figure out how to lose this weight without making me feel like I'm being crazy or too extreme for wanting to lose it.

While I'm on the subject of doctors, every time the topic of my weight comes up nowadays at my visit, I am slightly mystified. Because this topic does come up every single visit, even though I haven't dropped any significant weight in nearly a year. Not only do all the doctors in that practice congratulate me for my accomplishment all the time, but they also talk about it to the rest of my family when they come in for a visit! Again, not that it's a bad thing at all; everybody loves compliments! But here's why I get mystified: when I weighed well over 300 lbs, when I had pre-diabetes, joint pain, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea all at age 27, the topic of my weight was never discussed. And I do mean never. I can't recall one instance when it was brought up. We discussed medication and the need for a sleep study, but never the single underlying cause of all of those conditions. And I believe that is inexcusable. I get that it's an uncomfortable topic. It's embarrassing to address for all parties involved. I even get the argument that fat people know they're fat without having a doctor tell them. But you know what? If you have previously diagnosed diabetes and refuse to manage it, you still know you have diabetes without a doctor bringing it up. Same goes for asthma or high blood pressure or any number of conditions. But the difference is, a doctor will always bring up those conditions. Every single time. I find it reprehensible that a condition such as obesity that will substantially reduce life expectancy and life quality is not discussed due to it being uncomfortable. Or maybe just because doctors don't think it will do any good. To that I say, you never know until you try. You never know when a person is at their wit's end and ready to make a change. It baffles me that we are so willing to throw drugs at diseases such as the ones I had when losing even a small percentage of weight usually at least improves or even eliminates them all. I know I personally completely eliminated all of my problems I listed above by the time I had lost about 50 lbs and was still significantly overweight. I know that some conditions do require medications, but many conditions can be treated with simple lifestyle changes. Often these changes are not discussed because it is much easier to write a prescription.

Obesity is a medical condition and it deserves to be treated like one. Its origins are multi-faceted and don't just boil down to "Stop eating crap and get off the couch, you lazy bum!" We need to lose the stigma attached to obesity and start discussing it in a non-judgemental, helpful, and supportive way. And I feel like as someone who has personally experienced obesity and also has experience in the medical field, I am in a perfect position to educate both people having issues with this problem and also their doctors. As is the case in many areas, I think education and compassion go a long way towards solving this problem.

1 comment:

  1. Right on the money! Obesity is out of control at all age. This needs to change.