March 18, 2014
I am so angry right now so apologies in advance for an almighty rant coming your way.
I know I am a big girl right, and I know that being big sometimes (but not always) can come with health complications which can impact on NHS resources. However, I do not smoke, I do not drink (much, anymore) I don’t do drugs, I exercise 4-5 times per week, and make a huge effort to eat well…I generally am trying to limit the effect of my obesity on this world and more importantly on my loved ones!!
Yeeeshhh, I have had one hell of a day!!
Yesterday while at Playgroup with Rose I pulled something in my back as I lifted her onto the slide. The pain got progressively worse so we left early and I took painkillers and rested up for the evening. This morning I woke up in excruciating pain and as I attempted to get dressed my back spasmed and I swear to god it was worse than the pain of childbirth.
I called an Ambulance because I seriously did not know how else I would get to a doctors, I was crying out in pain and unable to get comfortable. I was told it was not an emergency and I should call the GP, who told me to take some painkillers and get a cab to the surgery.
The pain subsided a bit (with some pills) and I made my way to the surgery to get my back looked at.
Despite the fact I have been at my doctors surgery for close to twenty years, it’s very rare that I see my own GP, so I wasn’t surprised to get an appointment with a doctor I didn’t know.
He asked what had happened, and after my short explanation and having a slight feel of my lower back then came a question I wasn’t expecting.
“So tell me about your weight”
“I’ve lost about 4 stone this year” I replied
“Right” he said with a surprised look.
“I know I have some more to lose” I responded cheerily
“See this is the problem, it’s carrying all that extra weight and having a weak core that is causing the pain”
Weak core??? I can do a 90 second plank I’ll have you know. I was stunned into silence as he quickly scribbled a prescription. So less than 3 minutes after entering his room he was sending me on my way with painkillers and instructions to rest.
“So you advise no exercise then? It’s just I’m supposed to be running a marathon in 3 weeks time”
He smiled shook his head and said
“You are clearly not fit enough to run a marathon.”
“Do you mean I am Too Fat to Run?” I inquired
“Well Yes, to be frank” he said reclining back in his chair
This is where I chose to fight back, how dare he? So I laughed in his face and told him that I have been running 3-4 times a week for the last year, ran 20 miles less than a month ago, a half marathon last weekend and a relatively fast 10k on Saturday just gone.
“That is THE medical advice I am giving you” he said defiantly
“Well I am going to get a second opinion from a sports injury specialist and give it a week or so before I make my decision” I said.
And I will.
I am furious with how I have been treated. Not the advice to rest, because I understand any sane person would advise this. But the whole assumption that my back pain is caused by my weight and his inability to be told otherwise. So what, skinny people don’t pull muscles or get slipped disks or trapped nerves? I have never suffered from back pain, even at my heaviest or during my pregnancy – so why would I start suffering now?
“Have you raised a lot for charity?” He asked before I left the room. Oh yeah because that’s the only reason I would run a marathon right? As a fun runner, I could never be someone who actually enjoyed running.
I posted something about this on the Facebook page earlier (check out the debate here) and it seems I’m not alone in this judgemental treatment. One ladies GP refused to sign a letter to say she was fit to run a French race (it’s a legal requirement there) because of her weight, she went on to complete the race in 4 hours 20. Other doctors suggested their patients give up running immediately to take up yoga or swimming instead.
I know doctors have to tackle the issue of obesity but at least talk to patients to find out what their lifestyle is all about before tarring them all with the same brush.
I am undecided about what I am going to do about Brighton in 3 weeks, but what I do know is that I will be making an official complaint about that doctor.
Anyone else experience anything like this? Or do these things just happen to me?
Oh…I forgot to mention. He asked me to try and touch my toes, when I touched the floor with my hands his jaw promptly followed. Those post run stretches are starting to payoff!!!
This incident not only knocked my confidence and almost saw me pull out of The Brighton Marathon, but it signified the starting point of a huge shift in my mindset about issues relating to weight, health and happiness and soon after this I made it my mission to tackle these misconceptions head on…and in June 2014 the Too Fat to Run campaign was born.