Medical Care

March 31, 2008 at 12:25 pm (medical care) (, )

When I was three, I got sick. I never got better. My nose ran all the time, I got cold after cold and ear infection after ear infection and strep throat after strep throat. My dentists and orthodontists would comment on how large my tonsils were, even when I wasn’t actively ill. Taking pills was an ordeal because my tonsils, so large they touched, made swallowing anything but especially hard and sticky pills, extra hard. By the time I was a teenager, I had hearing loss in one ear from built up scar tissue, consistantly had difficulty breathing, and suffered from bronchitis 2-3 times a year.

I still had my tonsils.

I still had my tonsils because my pediatrician took a look at them, after writing yet another prescription for pennicilin, and told my mom that “we don’t do tonsilectomies anymore” and then offered that if I lost weight I might have better health.

 Because tonsils, you know, are nothing more than sacks of fat. When a person gains weight, it’s routine for their tonsils to get fat as well.

Oddly enough, I had a different doctor as an adult. The first time she saw me she pinpointed my tonsils as a problem, scolded my dad (who’d driven me and was in the waiting room) for not getting them taken out earlier, and arranged for them to be removed in about a month’s time. That was eight years ago, and I’ve had bronchitis one time since then.

I suffered with constant ill health, exhaustion, hearing loss, and infection after infection because a doctor was unwilling to look past my fat to find the root cause of the problem, even when the problem (and solution!) was an incredibly obvious one.

I had bronchitis a month ago and saw a nurse practitioner about it. She listened to my lungs and asked me if I’d been screened for asthma. I said no, but now that I had insurance I was going to… I just needed to find a doctor and make an appointment. I didn’t say that I’d never been screened before because as a minor my complaints about shortness of breath were consistantly dismissed as me being out of shape, despite the fact that I danced competitively, had allergies, had chronic bronchitis, and had a parent with asthma. In other words, I was active, and had three red flags for asthma. But, you know, I was also fat and apparently fat trumps everything else as cause of illness and pain.

 I hear a lot of talk in the “everybody knows” vein of how fat people are a scourge on humanity because they cost so much more in medical bills. But I can guarandamntee you that if I’d had my tonsils out as a kid, it would have cost less and would have taken less of a toll on me, personally (a few days recovery versus three weeks recovery for the actual surgery, not to mention all the illnesses I wouldn’t have had and gotten treated). If I’d had my asthma treated and controlled in a timely manner I’d be in much better physical shape now, both because I’d be more active and because I’d be less suspectible to colds and respitory illness. In other words, my fat has cost me more money  not because fat is unhealthy, but because I’ve received shitty medical care that has wound up costing me extra money because I have gone untreated for some pretty basic and obvious things. So I guess fat people don’t cost extra money so much as incompetent jerk-ass doctors cost patients and insurance companies more money when they fail to treat their patients’ complaints.

But that doesn’t make a good soundbite, I guess.

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