When I asked about scarring, she told me, “Don’t worry about the scar, it’s not like you’re going to be wearing a bikini anyway.” Dumbfounded, and partially woozy from the painkillers, I laid back and tried to think happy thoughts. When I woke up in the recovery room, I was nauseated, in excruciating pain, and based on the urgency of the nurses’ pleas, not breathing well. In my post-op haze, I saw my surgeon walk up to me to let me know that the surgery was slightly more complicated than she expected. “You have a big belly,” she said. “I had to make a wider incision to get my hand in and I had to cut through this much (she held her hands about a foot apart) to get to your abdomen.” Now I know I’m not a thin gal, but I also know that I do not have 12 inches of adipose tissue on my abdomen. Again though, I was silenced by the sheer rudeness and insensitivity of the surgeon’s words. I begged for painkillers and fell back asleep.
Later, at a follow up appointment, the surgeon takes out the staples and delivers another nasty comment.
As she was wrapping up the appointment, she told me that due to the nature of the surgery, I would probably be out of work for at least three weeks. I was thrilled that I had made it through an interaction with her where my weight wasn’t mentioned. As if she read my mind, she turned around and said, “Now you go on down to McDonald’s and get yourself a Big Mac.”
Ashley is registering a complaint with the hospital and is seeking other stories of fat shaming by health professionals for an ebook to help spread the word and she's working on a youtube PSA. Awesome!
I've been thinking about how we all tend to be shocked into silence when someone does this to us and wondering if I should write up something to take with me to the hospital next time I go to the ER in pain. Then I can just hand it to people as needed. Sort of like "talk to the hand." Oh and I can only hope someone tells me to go eat a Big Mac--because I can say "I'm a vegetarian, have been since 1974, and I've never had a Big Mac. But even if I did, there's nothing wrong with having one occasionally and no reason to believe I eat them all the time. You don't know me."