I was told I’m too fat for surgery
I was finally seeing the new specialist. The one my ob/gyn said to bring up surgery with. My ob/gyn had already said she would do a hysterectomy, but she wanted me to see the specialist to discuss whether or not an oopherectomy was precedented.
I had a script prepared about how I was ready to move forward with the hysterectomy and my thoughts about an oopherectomy, which I was leaning towards because of how well medical menopause was going for me.
I was under a time crunch for this, because we couldn’t afford another month of Lupron. This was it. The next step in my mind had always been surgery. My ob/gyn started me on Lupron to determine how effective surgery would be. It was always the means to a surgical end. So I didn’t prepare a script for when the specialist said she wanted me to do the full 6 months of Lupron then see if the endometriosis just didn’t come back.
I knew this wouldn’t work for me. I’ve been in remission from the endometriosis before. After having it surgically removed, it came back. It went in remission for both my pregnancies, then came back shortly after giving birth. Why would this be any different?
The specialist’s concerns about an oopherectomy at my age were valid. And I respected that. I knew even with the great benefits I’d had in menopause getting a doctor to agree to permanent menopause at my age was a long shot. So I circled back to the hysterectomy.
“Dr. H—- said that just a hysterectomy is successful for 2/3 of women with endometriosis. Those are good enough odds for me to try it.”
“Well, you have to keep in mind that down the road, even if you think you’re done now, you might wish you could have more kids.”
Did she not read my chart?
“No, I can’t get pregnant again. I have rheumatoid arthritis.”
“You never know, maybe 5 years from now they’ll have a new treatment that lets you get pregnant on it.”
I couldn’t stop myself from chuckling a little for the split second I thought she was joking. The logistics of what she was suggesting were just so ridiculous to me that I could not take her seriously. But I didn’t want to keep arguing, so I didn’t mention that it wasn’t just about having to stop treatment, which would make me unable to care fully for the children I already have and allow my disease to do permanent damage. Because many women actually do do that and it works out ok. But for me it was even more than that. My body physically could not handle pregnancy again. I also didn’t mention the bipolar disorder that was finally stable or the traumatic deliveries of both my kids or my daughter’s prematurity. All which would put my body and a hypothetical baby at major risk. And I didn’t mention that my husband and I had decided we were done between ourselves and God, and that should be enough on its own for her to respect our decision.
All I said was, “my husband and I have discussed this for over a year. We didn’t jump to this impulsively.”
“Well you have to keep in mind the risks that come with surgery too. Especially with the excess weight.”
My stressed mind didn’t process that last part, I think on purpose. Which was a huge blessing, because crying in the office would not have helped my case.
I responded, “I am aware of the risks of surgery, but I’m not sure what to do here, because the reality is we can’t afford another 4 months of the Lupron.”
She then asked me some questions about our insurance, how much our copay was for lupron, and what pharmacy it came through. Then explained she might be able to look into how the script is processed to see if it can come through in a cheaper way. Trust me, if I understood anything more about that I would explain it better. But it boiled down to this:
“I will see if we can’t get the lupron a little cheaper for you so you can finish the 6 months. And in that time you can lose weight so surgery is a safer option.”
I smiled and nodded as if she had asked me to do something simple like take a vitamin. As if it was that easy.
When I got in the car my emotions broke through. I felt ignored, like a child, and judged. My wants for my own medical care were being tossed aside. And when all was said and done the excuse she left off with was, I’m too fat.
Funny. I wasn’t too fat for my ob/gyn who already said she had no problems doing a hysterectomy for me. I wasn’t too fat when I had my endometriosis cauterized. I wasn’t too fat for my c sections. I wasn’t too fat for my gall bladder removal. Not one of those surgeons had expressed concern about my weight to me. And I guess weight loss surgery is ok for the obese folk but not hysterectomies? It was like she was treating this as an elective surgery instead of a valid option of treatment. It seemed to me that she was dangling the carrot; asking me to do something she knew was unlikely so she could hide her real excuse of disagreeing with my decision to be done having kids.
She got to me. It’s hard to admit that. That night I tried to skip dinner. Because there’s still that part of me that sometimes believes hunger is good and fullness is bad –that never quite being satisfied is a victory. And she awoke that part of me. Thankfully I confided in Max about what I was feeling, and he got me food and watched me eat it.
But it scared me. It was so easy to fall back into that disordered thinking because I could justify it with, “it’s the doctor’s orders.”
My perfect blood pressure didn’t matter. My perfect cholesterol didn’t matter. My perfect metabolic blood panel didn’t matter. My high activity level didn’t matter. All that mattered in that office was the number of pounds scribbled on my chart.
I couldn’t even be mad that she disregarded my personal conclusion that not having more kids was best for my body, because I was too overwhelmed by the despair of being shoved into a box of “too fat for healthcare.”
No, it’s not the first time I’ve been stigmatized in a doctor’s office because of my weight. But it was the first time I was denied a procedure or other medical care because of it.
But this fat girl will get her medical care despite the prejudices of a thin obsessed society. Don’t you worry.