I went to the doctor yesterday and it was a much different experience than it was 125 pounds ago.
There comes a point where you feel like a giant living in a dollhouse.
Can you imagine needing an MRI and not being able to get one because you can’t fit in the tube?
It happens all the time to the morbidly obese.
Just imagine being sent to the ZOO because the only MRI that will fit you is for a gorilla.
That doesn’t sound possible, right?
Can you imagine just for one second the humiliation that this brings in your life?
A few years ago, I had a pain in my right side.
My doctor and I agreed that it might be a hernia.
I was referred for an MRI but when I arrived, I was met with a look of fear from the technician who immediately knew that I wouldn’t fit in the tube.
You see, there are limits on everything and the larger you become the more limits you exceed.
It’s as if the world is saying they didn’t think it was really possible for a person to get that big.
It reminds me of the time I subbed for my daughter’s class.
It was about 18 months ago and she was in the first grade.
A child came up to me in the hallway and said wide eyed, “How did that happen to you?”.
I immediately knew what he meant.
He wasn’t saying it to be mean. He was genuinely curious.
He didn’t even view me as an overweight person. He viewed me as an oddity.
He just wanted to know–what happened to you?
His mind rejected the thought that I was overweight.
Instead it searched for some other answer because he literally couldn’t fathom that the human body could get that large.
They think something far worse must have happened. Something almost supernatural.
Then comes the anxiety and the fear that if something happened and you called 911, they might show up and just stare at you because they’re not sure what to do.
You don’t fit on their scale or in their MRI machine.
The best they can do is send you to the zoo.
What if something is really wrong with you?
So many true illnesses are masked by obesity.
Doctors have a hard time detecting what is happening in your body.
After my failed MRI, the doctor sent me for a consult with a surgeon anyway.
The nurse led me to the room and told me to change into a gown and get on the table.
If only she knew how those two requests were like asking me to make gold appear out of thin air.
Have you ever really looked at the table in a doctor’s office?
Look at the width.
It may seem ample for someone of average size. Even for an overweight person.
However an obese person looks at that and wonders not only if they will fit but how they will even get on it!
And then we come to the gown.
The gown at the doctor’s office is like the robe at the hairdresser.
They aren’t made for the super obese.
So what do you do?
They have to bring two.
One you have to put on like a coat and the other you put on like an apron.
You wear two gowns.
I always appreciated the nurses who intuitively knew this.
They would bring two gowns without thinking twice.
Unfortunately, there are the ones who don’t.
You have to ask and it’s a bit humiliating.
But once you’ve had to stand in the waiting room 30 minutes because you couldn’t fit in the chair….
Had to tell the nurse that she can’t weigh you because you don’t fit on the scale…
Waited for them to figure out that your blood pressure has to be taken the old fashioned way because the cuff doesn’t fit–not even the one made for large people…
Well by the time all this has happened you don’t have a lot of pride left.
So you just explain to them that you need two gowns.
I’m sure you’ve experienced waiting in the room for the doctor to arrive.
You wish they wouldn’t take so long.
After all it only took you a few seconds to put on the gown and get on the table, right?
You spend the rest of the time eyeing the pamphlets in the doctor’s office and wishing you had that magazine you were reading out in the waiting room.
But when you’re obese everything takes longer.
For me, the second the nurse leaves I have to go into warp speed.
It takes me 5 times as long to wrangle out of my clothes, into the gown, and onto the table before the knock at the door.
When I was even just overweight, I could do all of that and still sit on the table waiting for what seemed like forever.
Once I got very large, I found myself never having enough time to get it done.
The last thing I wanted was for the doctor to knock on the door and me be half undressed and half hanging off the table.
I was desperate to get up there and make it look like it wasn’t a struggle.
But everything is a struggle when you’re over 400 pounds!!
Even if you manage to make it into your two gowns–you have to face the table.
Placed before you is a tiny stool which is supposed to help you get up there.
Once on the stool, you have to turn yourself around so that you can then sit on the table.
Try being 400-450 pounds and then turning yourself around on a small stool.
Try to do this without falling off.
And then there is the fear that if you fall, how will you ever get back up again?
I’m almost 40.
If you’re a woman and you’re hitting 40 then you know that’s when you start going in for a mammogram.
Last year before I had the surgery, my gynecologist (sorry men!) told me that if I didn’t lose a significant amount of weight I wouldn’t be able to have one.
Yep, you guessed it. You can be too big for that too.
Well I went to see my gynecologist yesterday and this year I was 125 pounds lighter.
Here are the chairs in my doctor’s waiting room. For once, I fit.
I was actually able to use ONE gown and although getting up on the table was still a hassle at 292 lbs, it was NOTHING compared to being 417 plus pounds.
My doctor was excited to tell me that a mammogram was in my future.
He still advised me to lose more weight for it to be the most effective but at least it’s a possibility.
Never thought I’d get excited about being eligible for a mammogram!
But what’s exciting is knowing that if something is wrong with me physically, the doctors now at least have a fighting chance of detecting it.
I’ve lost a lot of weight and I still have a lot more to lose.
But the one thing I will never lose is the memory of what it’s like to be morbidly obese.
What it’s like to be referred to the zoo as a patient.
To feel like a giant in a dollhouse.
Like an oddity in the eyes of a child.
I will remember these things for two reasons.
One–I’m never going back.
And two–to give hope to those who still live there.
And there IS hope.
Ooodles of it 🙂