I currently find myself in the market for a new primary care physician. I’m getting up there in age, see, and in the back of my mind I know you have to keep close tabs on shit as you get older and your body starts to act like an appliance that has long outlived its warranty — with one thing after another breaking down and wearing out. So, I recently took to Facebook to get recommendations for primary care doctors from friends and acquaintances. I made it clear, in my post, that my husband and I have had some really bad experiences with doctors and that I could probably count the number of physicians we’ve had dealings with who are NOT complete assholes on one hand. One of those five is my future son-in-law. So, technically, it’s, like, about four people. I then proceeded to expound upon the history of my disdain for the medical profession.
I hate doctors. I’ve always hated doctors. That has been the case ever since I was a child and they plunked my fat little butterball ass onto the scale in the pediatrician’s office and made that “tsk, tsk, tsk!” sound — like it can be an eight year-old child’s fault that she’s fat. Yep, ever since those days, I found that the medical community blamed nearly every single medical issue I had on being fat. “Your periods are hell on earth? Oh, that’s because you’re fat.” “You have back pain? Well, that’s probably because you’re fat.” “Hang nail? Yeah, well, you ARE fat. So, what do you expect?” Male physicians have been the worst. One that I went to for infertility was so insensitive and abrasive during the exam that I cried in my car for ten minutes afterward. “So, you’ve been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, right?” he said, “Well, I concur with that diagnosis, and you’re never going to get pregnant at your weight. So, all I can tell you is to come back when you lose some weight.” Then he walked out of the room.
I had a good female physician once years ago. She ended up leaving the practice after she had children. So, I started seeing another doctor in the practice, the only other woman doctor. I mistakenly thought she might be like my former PCP. Nope! Like the guy I went to when I was trying to get pregnant, every interaction with this woman involved some kind of personal insult. When I’d lost 100+ pounds she said, “You’ve worked hard to lose the weight and you’re a young woman (I was 35). You shouldn’t have to look like you’re 80 years old. I’ll write you a referral to a plastic surgeon friend of mine.” I hadn’t even mentioned being dissatisfied with my post weight-loss appearance. I visited her again months later to get tested for a sexually transmitted disease after an unfortunate dating experience. I was already feeling vulnerable and emotional about the situation. Her response? “What? You didn’t use a condom? What were you thinking?” My response? With tears in my eyes, “I dunno. I guess I just trusted the wrong person.”
I finally found another female doctor I liked and trusted several years later, only to have her turn into a stark raving lunatic over time. I’m pretty certain that, since the bulk of her patients were elderly, she was driven nuts by…well…how those folks can be when it comes to health problems. After nearly every annual physical and at the mere mention of some slight issue, she would order a litany of invasive and unnecessary tests and procedures. None of the tests ever found anything of importance. On one occasion she had me feeling like I was some kind of “junky” for my regular use nasal decongestant sprays. I got so freaked out and panicked that I was in hysterics when got home and I told my husband about it. Two years ago, after my annual pelvic exam, she started throwing around the “C” word and insisted that I go see her gynecologist colleague to get more information. Let me tell you that nothing gets your attention more and scares you shitless quite like the word “cancer” tumbling from your doctor’s lips. Instantly, you feel helpless and childlike…and more than willing to let “the experts” make any and all decisions. So I did what I was told. I went to see this doctor that’d never so much as laid eyes on me. As soon as I sat down on the examination table and before he ever even examined me, this guy told me he was going to do a biopsy. Surprise! It was one of the most painful and traumatic experiences of my life…and that’s coming from a woman who gave birth to two children without the benefit of medication. Fortunately, the biopsy was negative. Then, after my pelvic exam the following year, Dr. Crazy ONCE AGAIN, insisted I go to back to Dr. Biopsy Bill. This time I declined. I told her I would find a gynecologist on my own. I asked everyone I knew for recommendations. Luckily, I found a wonderful doctor who was knowledgeable, gentle, and compassionate. He quickly determined that the issue my PCP thought was some horrible disease was actually a completely normal condition.
With all that being said, what I need from a healthcare provider is very simple and probably pretty similar to what every healthcare consumer needs. I need a doctor with a gentle manner. I need a PCP that is kind, compassionate, and understanding. I need a doctor who will listen to me and will NOT treat me like I’m a fucking idiot. I need someone who doesn’t think there’s some kind of inverse relationship between a person’s weight and their IQ. I also need a doctor who won’t hang every damn thing that I come to see him/her for on my weight. I don’t want to have to say things like, “Yup, Doc, I prolly wouldn’t have come down with malaria if I wasn’t so godamn F-A-T.” I need someone who understands that it’s not some kind of newsflash to a fat person that they are fat. I can’t count the number of times a doctor has, with furrowed brow, “broken the news” to me. I’ve had to fight the urge to point my finger right in his stupid face and scream, “NO FUCKING SHIT, SHERLOCK! Gee whiz! My fatness musta broke my brain! Hey, ya know what would register a bigger number on your scale right there? How many fucks I give!!!!”
Look, right now I’m just a girl with a few pounds on her staring at a computer screen and hoping to find my “Prince/Princess Charming” of primary care physicians. Frogs need not apply