The Weekly Whine is my favorite segment on my blog. I started it in response to someone complaining that I whined too much. I figured by starting this segment and being forthright about the fact that I was whining, nobody had the right to complain. After all, if you're reading an entry titled "weekly whine", you know what you're getting into. So if you don't like it, it's your own damn fault for reading in the first place.
The truth is, I don't think this blog is particularly whiny or negative about medicine. Mostly it's anecdotes, drawings, quizzes, etc. Yet sometimes people will start inexplicably yelling at me for being too negative, such as on this post (not even a particularly negative one). Or criticize me for complaining too much or something.
Yes, I do tend to keep from telling particularly positive stories or writing love letters to medicine. And here's why:
A couple of months ago, I completed a year of pumping for my baby. Even though I strongly believe women shouldn't place undo stress on themselves to pump, I was still proud of this achievement. It was a lot of work and it also took a lot out of me. So I made a post on Mothers in Medicine talking about my accomplishment.
For a while, nobody commented. Nobody cared, which is fine... it was a personal achievement. Then finally, I did get a comment. Was the comment saying, "Hey, good job working hard to provide nutritious breastmilk for the sake of your baby's health for a whole year!" No. The comment was to yell at me for saying that the stress of breastfeeding had caused me to have a BMI of 18 despite getting to eat anything I want. That I was glamorizing being dangerously underweight.
Just a little background on the BMI of 18:
I don't own a scale. Since I'm not trying to lose weight, I don't really see a need to own one. Why would I want to know what I weigh? What good does that do me? I had noticed that I had lost weight based on the fact that my clothes all fit me like a tent and my wedding band kept falling off. But it was during my yearly PCP visit that they told me my weight and calculated my BMI for me. I was very surprised, and for a week or two, I was talking about it a lot, not to brag, but the same way I told everyone when my hematocrit got really low when I was pregnant the first time. That got reflected in that particular post, I suppose.
The commentor also pointed out that I glamorized the fact that I didn't gain much weight in pregnancy. I did mention this fact once while talking about testing for gestational diabetes, where it was very relevant (I, in fact, didn't post at all about pregnancy while I was actually pregnant). It's true that I didn't gain much weight during pregnancy, but that's because I was violently ill for the first 20 weeks, and mildly nauseated for the second 20 weeks. If vomiting every day is glamorous, then I am the glam queen. Believe me, I got very jealous of pregnant people who said, "Oh, I have no symptoms at all."
Subsequently, a second post appeared on this blog (which I had written the same time as the other post, but had scheduled for weeks later) that mentioned my weight loss caused me to feel colder than usual. Someone then commented that talking about my weight made them absolutely furious (?) to the point where they couldn't read the rest of the post, that I was again glamorizing being underweight, and it was irresponsible for me to do so.
One thing this all demonstrated to me is this:
Nobody wants to hear you say anything about yourself that could be construed as positive. If your baby is sleeping through the night at one month old, nobody wants to hear about that. If your baby wakes up every hour, then that's an acceptable blog post. If you get a raise, nobody likes you. If you can barely afford food, that's an acceptable blog post. Whenever you tell positive stories about yourself, people think you're bragging and hate you.
Maybe that's a pessimistic view of the world, but it's just an observation I've made. And that's why I err on the side of whining. Because if I didn't, you'd probably hate me.
Haha. So true. I was just commenting to Luca that I get about 10% the comments on my happy posts as on my complain-y posts. It's a little irritating and also a little bit sad that some anonymous internet person's good news can make someone feel THAT bad about themselves.ReplyDelete
Exactly. And it's not enough for me to just complain... I can't say anything even remotely positive. Like if I were complaining that I had crippling back pain because my breasts were too big, someone would yell at me for bragging about and glamorizing having big breasts.Delete
That would be awesome. You should totally write a post about that just to see what people would say.Delete
I think people are jealous jerks sometimes. I think its totally awesome that you get to eat whatever you want... and yes, I'm jealous and stuff, but, I'm not jealous of having to feed/pump a small infant or even have a small infant. It's all give and take there.ReplyDelete
It's very hard not to take people's comments seriously when they are negative. It's also very hard to feel compelled to make a comment on something in general, unless I feel very strongly about it. Unfortunately, my strong feelings often come in the form of negativity. The positive ones get sent out into the universe with barely a whisper.
So. For what it's worth. I read you because you're funny. Because you make me laugh, you make me think, you make me realize that "getting there" is possible (to the other side of medical school and beyond!). I think it's important that you know that there are people out here who really enjoy reading your blog and may not always comment to say so. I certainly hope we outweigh the jerks.
And you know, you're awesome for not only taking the time to share this stuff with us, but also to scramble the details for HIPAA, to hold on to blog posts for years, and to keep serving up fresh content and funny cartoons.
rock on with your bad self. ignore the haters.
For the record, I don't *actually* eat whatever I want. And now that I'm no longer breastfeeding, I certainly don't do that. My husband is on a health kick and these days our dinners are like 75% vegetables, which is why I'm not gaining back the weight too fast. But if someone brings a cake to work, I can certainly have a piece without feeling guilty.Delete
Anyway, I really appreciate your comment. I think, like you said, a lot of people won't comment unless they feel they have something really significant to say, but I love getting comments just saying "I like your blog" as long as it doesn't say "I like your blog. Buy V1agra."
Is it just a coincidence that both furious responses were connected to weight? Personally, I find that it has become absolutely offensive to mention in any way, shape or form, that you are a) not overweight, b) eating freely or, God forbid, c) both of the above.ReplyDelete
Since when is obesity a normal state and anything that speaks against it or about it a new -ism? Obesism? Fatism? I digress. I meant to say that you should go right ahead and talk about your healthy weight and healthy choices and when someone has a problem with it, we can collectively tell them to go have a run and a veggie snack.
I was just shocked at being scolded for mentioning that weight loss was a benefit of breastfeeding. And by people who claim to be physicians, who see the negative effects of obesity every day. Since I'm relatively young and should expect to gain weight naturally as I get older, I don't see anything wrong with being on the lower cusp of normal.Delete
I recently went to the OB/GYN and he felt a need to comment on my weight through the entire visit, although it wasn't in a negative way. He kept saying, "I can feel all your organs! It's amazing!" I almost wanted to ask him to go find a medical student so they could learn from me :)
SS -- So true.Delete
In that case...I absolutely LOVE your blog! I am applying to medical school this cycle, and you are witty and real about medicine and I appreciate both the good and the bad posts.ReplyDelete
Thank you :)Delete
I don't think that it's a case of "people don't want to hear anything that could be construed as positive" so much as that people are approaching things heavily from their own particular perspective. That sounds obvious and we all do it, but it's 10x worse when communicating in text. The context clues of your tone, body language, background, and how the conversation started are lost. The reader's mind substitutes your tone of voice, and perhaps even "body language" as they read what you wrote. A person's tone and "non-verbal communication" can drastically change the meaning behind a statement, and thus your incensed responders seem to have gotten something very different out of your post than what you had intended.ReplyDelete
It's just too bad that so many people don't have more self-insight (and I tend to fall into this category, too). Your responders were clearly touchy about weight, perhaps because they or someone close to them are or were dealing with weight issues or an eating disorder. With insight, they would know that they were sensitive to the topic, and they could make a greater effort not to judge your personal stance behind mentioning those factors.
It was interesting how in the MiM entry, someone else commented that I was "constantly" mentioning my weight on that blog and I was clearly obsessed. So I went back and checked all my posts on MiM that year, and out of like 50 of them, I hadn't mentioned anything about my weight once.Delete
Of course, since then, I've gotten criticized so much that as a result, I've been mentioning it a lot. So ironically, if they said it now, I wouldn't be able to refute that statement as easily.
Snarky Scalpel -- it's called Sizeism. And people in the "fat acceptance" community are often reminded that if they want to be accepted for naturally being a larger size, they need to accept that some people are naturally very thin. Sizeism runs both ways.ReplyDelete
Randomly telling a skinny people to "go eat a sandwich" is just as much Sizism as telling a fat person to "go on a diet." It's none of anyone else's business.
That's absolutely true. I think people need to stop being so obsessed with other people's weights. It doesn't have any impact on ME what you weight.Delete
Sizeism, got it, thanks.Delete
And I couldn't possibly care less about anyone's weight in random encounters, I actually come from an overweight family. But once a person walks into my clinic, my floor, my OR, their size (BMI 35 or 15) bloody well -is- my business, because it affects my work, my choices and my outcomes very very much.
Eh, say whatever you want. It's your blog. people are reading it for free. No one is forcing them to read it. You should feel free to express what's on your mind (as long as it's not racist hate-speech or whatever... which it probably won't be) without worrying about someone becoming hysterically offended by some completely benign comment. But, yeah, the positive stuff isn't quite as interesting as the complain-y stuff. I really like my job and I know most of the time how lucky I am to have been able to get here, but whenever I get together with my medical friends, all we do is bitch and complain! It's just venting, and it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one with problems ...ReplyDelete
So.... I should delete my racist hate speech scheduled for tomorrow?Delete
Some people draw conclusions without enough information. When I went through training, I had a private blog where I did a lot of venting and reflecting. Most of my family and friends were timezones away, so writing was my outlet. A lot of posts were probably whiney... but that's what I needed to do at the time. I wrote for me. But one of my closest friends (no longer friends) read that and drew conclusions that had I turned into a mean cynical bitch. She didn't bother to find out that I was actually burning out and writing was my way of dealing.ReplyDelete
Some people don't understand that a bit of venting actually allows us to stay sane and compassionate. If you read carefully, you'll notice that some of the "grumpiest" medical bloggers actually seem to be very caring people. It's the people who pretend that everything is perfect all the time who are scary... they're passive-aggressive and one day just snap at random people.
I enjoy reading your blog, and I recognize that reading what you post does not give me the right to make broad sweeping generalizations about you or medicine.
- A Canadian GP
I definitely understand your sentiment, and you basically summarized the whole reason why I decided to start a blog. We needed an outlet, and blogging is the only acceptable way to do it, especially when we live far away from loved ones. That former close friend wasn't a good friend to begin with because she didn't once bother to ask "hey, are you ok? How can I help?" In my humble opinion, you're better off without her.Delete
Thanks, Mingle. Dr. Fizzy: I keep having to remind myself about this quote: "The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours". Also this one: "What other people think of me is none of my business". Keep writing whatever YOU want to write about! :)Delete
- A Canadian GP
You can't please them all. If you post positive, inspirational stories, the people who like to complain will be turned off by them, but others will be inspired and have their days be brightened.ReplyDelete
If you post whiny posts, some will join in the whine and hate their lives with you which will make them feel better bc they're not alone, but others will think you're not satisfied with anything and that you're just a complainer who doesn't value what she already has.
I think you should post whatever you damn well please - I have a feeling it will make your blog even better. I also think you should stop caring about comments that criticize, unless you "just gotta set that person straight".
Long ago, I knew of a group of local writers. Anytime one of them got published, the other members of the group would criticize them roundly. It seems that whenever one became mildly successful, the others attempted to drag them back to their level. Evidently this made them feel better about themselves.ReplyDelete
Hi Dr. Fizzy!ReplyDelete
I've been a loyal follower of yours for quite a while now though I've never commented till now. It makes me terribly sad to have to agree with you. Sometimes, people would rather hear about how you have it worse so they can feel better about themselves. Wow, that sounds cynical. But I like to hear stories so if you post something you're happy about, just know I won't try to bring you down. I don't always agree with what you write but I don't have to in order to be a fan. It's your blog, do with it what you want. I love your cartoons =)
I like your blog. I read it ALL THE TIME!!! I don't comment due to my personal situation. If I didn't like your blog, or what you say in it, I would drop reading it.ReplyDelete
Might it be ONE person repeatedly commenting on their own issue anytime it comes up rather than multiple people? I would recommend 'blow it off' as an approach. Women are not taught to blow anything off, it is not helpful to us that we don't learn this skill at an early age. OR, decide when you get a complaint that you have provided that person a wonderful outlet for grievance/complaints and no child was hurt as a result ... so go you!
KEEP WRITING and KEEP TELLING YOUR TRUTH!!!!
There's an unusually high number of "W"s in your post titleReplyDelete
When I see comments "do you like medicine at all? has it occured to you that you are you in a wrong profession?" I just smile. These are narrow-minded people, who are not where you are in life. If given a chance these people would most surely say how they hate their job, boss, existence, etc. One can see from their post that they are miserable on personal level. Let's hope more people can achieve some harmony in their lives. People with well balanced lives are cabable of acceptance and non-judgement. Unfortunately success in life is now vilified, and is viewed as something that is not owned or achieved by an individual, but a result of luck (born into affluent family with "opportunities", have special talent) and "priviledge" environment. Hard work and huge education debt behind success are not recognized. Thus hatred of successful people (= people who achieved MD degree).ReplyDelete
My kid could sleep through the night at 3 weeks, Started solid food at 6 weeks, could talk at 3 months, potty trained at 4 months, could read, write and ride a bike without training wheels before her 1st birthday. At 18 months she cooked her first gourmet meal had her first piano solo, unfortunately we had to turn down Carnegie hall because the non-compete she had to sign when she started her one woman Broadway play. My Fizzy headed virtual friend, I say to you, don’t let the bastards get you down, post the good with the bad, you start filtering because of what other people may think, you become one of those people with flat hair. Froryder out.ReplyDelete
Just to let you know there are people like me who find your blog hilarious and very interesting to read, and who would never hate youReplyDelete