When My Doctor Claimed My Mobility Limitations Were 'Due to Obesity'
I have gained a lot of weight since I got diagnosed. It took a while to even get diagnosed because doctors told me my spine hurt because I was gaining weight. I kept pushing for answers, and would go to other doctors. I knew something was very wrong with my body because I had never been in so much pain before.
There were times I had to physically drag myself up the stairs of our second floor apartment and I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox. Over the years I have tried to rebuild my strength, but it has been hard to lose the weight I have put on over the past two years. I have a disability placard and have trouble walking really any distances.
On the outside it may look like I am fine, that I am just a normal college student. It may even look like I am lazy when I take the elevator to go up and down floors to get to my classes. I think of other people’s judgements often and even hear them voiced occasionally.
A couple months ago I had to renew my disability placard. I had to go to my doctor and get a prescription. She wrote the prescription and put it in my paperwork. When leaving the office I saw on the script “mobility issues due to obesity.” I cried right there leaving the doctor’s office. I cannot describe to you the shame and anger I felt in that moment. I felt that she was downplaying my illness by saying I was having mobility issues because of being overweight. Being overweight is often a side effect when dealing with chronic pain. When I am in pain constantly, I have no energy or desire to work out. The things I could do before – run, go on long walks, work out – I can’t do now. My weight has been criticized and focused on at times more than the illness I have. It took a year for me to get diagnosed because the doctors I saw just saw me as a number on the scale. I despise this.
I hate that it takes the focus off treatment for my disease. I have tried to lose weight, eat healthier, and do light exercises. I think one of the most important lessons I have learned in all of this is that no one knows your body more than you do. I have become an advocate for myself. I know I am doing the best I can. After seeing that note from the doctor, I decided to find a new doctor, one who would treat the disease and just focus on the weight. The weight can be an issue, but it is not the main issue.
The main issue is that I have a progressive illness that causes extreme pain and attacks my spine and other joints.
I have found resources online and support groups that I have joined. Hearing other people’s stories and heartaches caused by dealing with treatment from professionals helps me understand that this happens to many people that deal with a variety of issues. I am not alone.
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