I have struggled with my weight since I was a child. Rather than discuss what healthy eating is with me, my mother put me on fad diet after fad diet, taught me ‘tricks’ to feel full, and instilled a life-long issue with food. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been guilty of doing some of the same things to myself. In general, I love healthy food. I choose vegetables over most anything, am not big on sweets, and am not a fan of fried foods. So why am I still overweight?
Until recently, my biggest issue was soda. It’s tasty, but nothing other than empty calories. Anytime I’ve tried to stop drinking soda in the past, I end up right back on the bandwagon of sugary goodness. I finally figured out, my problem isn’t so much that I miss the sugar, as I miss the carbonation. And let’s face it, most flavored sparkling waters aren’t so much flavored as they’re a hint of whatever it’s supposed to be. Luckily, I’ve figure out there are a few I can tolerate, along with my regular water consumption, and I’ve gone three weeks without a full sugar soda.
I’m fully aware I need to lose weight. I’m also fully aware I have Hashimotos disease (low functioning thyroid) that’s not currently under control. Uncontrolled hypothyroidism can cause myriad issues, one being, difficulty losing weight. The thyroid controls how your body’s cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism. Among other things, your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat, and how well you burn calories. If you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down. That means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.
It can also cause dry skin, dry hair and hair loss, elevated cholesterol, fatigue, joint pain, memory issues, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also screw with your glucose levels, blood cell counts, and hemocrit. I have every single one of these symptoms.
Yet, when I sat down with my doctor today, the only numbers he wanted to discuss were the ones on the scale.
Sadly, I’ve lost weight since I first saw him back in May, when he was assigned as my new primary care physician after a hospital stay. I was 240 pounds in May. Today, I’m at 224. Still overweight, but clearly doing something about it. I was told I’m now being considered pre-diabetic, I need to go on a low carb/low fat diet, and get more exercise.
Not one word was said, until I brought it up, about the other wacky numbers in my lab work. Or, the fact that my fasting blood sugar on Wednesday was well within normal range. He based his diagnosis on my A1C, which shows the average blood sugar level over three months. A month ago, it’s highly possible my fasting blood sugar would have been higher. I was drinking 4–5 sodas per day. Now, I don’t consume much in the way of sugar at all.
Rather than listen to me, he wanted to keep talking over me. Finally, I stopped speaking all together. Once he was finished belittling me, I asked if he would put me back on my thyroid medication, cholesterol medication, and migraine medication. He agreed, and proceeded to start all over again with the discussion of how my weight is the issue.
I got up and walked out.
This is healthcare in America, especially for women. Our weight is the sole thing most male providers see. Yes, I said male, because that’s who I’ve had the most issues with. I don’t get to choose my provider now, I’m stuck with whoever they assign me.
Something needs to change, because I know I’m not the only one who is dealing with this. Rather than tell women (or show them) they’re being hysterical when they try to rationally discuss their health, or blame it all on fat, try really listening and researching co-morbidities with diagnosis they already have. Doctors aren’t perfect either, and accepting that is probably a first decent step towards change.