Monday, January 8, 2018

Guest post: Weight loss surgery

Tuesday I sat through another hard sell for weight loss surgery. I'm so done.

I'm weary of doctors who won't hear my "no" and plow ahead extolling the virtues of procedures I have already investigated and decided are not for me. I would be at high risk of suicide if I allowed myself to be bullied into this. (That is not true for most people but would be for me.)

Today I felt calm enough to respond via email. To be sure, I responded plenty in the moment but everything I said was ignored or argued with and the doctor just kept going. My husband was present and he was shocked--as a fat man himself his doctors bring things up and then drop it if he says no. I talked with him about how hard it is to turn around and look for another doctor because I don't even know how THAT doctor will handle the sensitive issue of weight. If there's one thing I'd wish of doctors is that they come to appreciate how we've already survived a lifetime's worth of assaults on our self esteem based on our weight. Unless they've been there I don't know how easy that is to understand--but I wish they'd try.

I sent the following to Doctor M:

Subject heading was "Boundaries."

I understand that all doctors will discuss weight with their fat patients. I expect that it will be brought up. What I did not expect was the hard sell on weight loss surgery after I repeatedly indicated that I was not remotely interested in it and had firmly decided it was not for me for many reasons. You continued for something like 20 minutes AFTER I indicated that. But what is dangerous to my well being and survival was that you did so after learning I had spent months being verbally abused and was dealing with the resulting depression. Fortunately I've had years of therapy and could deal with the hurt, shock and distress I felt after having my boundaries violated.

It also concerns me that you'd dismiss the value of walking simply in relation to weight loss.

WEIGHT LOSS IS NOT A GOAL OF MINE. A Health at Every Size strategy of movement and eating healthy food IS. Obesity research has demonstrated that 95% of us regain. This is a feature not a bug.

Can you respect boundaries?


  1. Good for you for being able to stand up to your jerk of a physician, and I'm sorry that he/she is such a jerk. The medical profession has such an unhealthy obsession with weight loss, despite the very valid data you present about how very few people lose weight/almost everyone regains it.

  2. It is acceptable to badger and downright bully someone about weight loss as it is for no other health related condition-- and completely disproportionate. I would have never heard of a physician doing that about smoking, for instance. I wouldn't know where you would start at finding another doctor-- but this one is a real jerk. Even if it came from a place of "helping you", it was so disrespectful and overbearing that you're probably not listen to anything they say in the future-- if you are even their patient at all in the future. Which makes them stupid as well as rude.

  3. I am sorry you experienced that. As a doctor I apologize on behalf of my profession. Nobody should be bullied - they should certainly NOT be bullied by someone who is meant to represent their interests. Thank you for sharing your story. I hate to say it but do we now need a fat friendly doctor forum or something? Every doctor's office should be a place patients can feel safe and feel they have a teammate in their doctor - not a dictator. I am glad you have taken good care of yourself and have a supportive. Good luck in staying healthy in whatever method you choose!

  4. I would love to know what response you had from your email. I have found that those who have their minds made up before they walk in the room are difficult to sway. I want my concerns to be center and I will take yours under advisement. I work in Medical Research and sometimes know more than the doctor. It still doesn't stop some from trying to bully me. That usually is the last time I see than doctor. And I wait for the satisfaction survey with notes.

  5. There was a great BMJ 'what you patient is thinking' article on this subject.

  6. That is a really great letter you wrote! Hopefully your doctor learned something.