“You’re fat, and getting fatter”

Dear Doctor,

What more do you want from me, exactly? For years, I’ve tried to be a good patient. I really have. I’ve done pretty much everything recommended by the medical profession (and health gurus, and newspaper nutrition columnists, and Canada’s Food Guide, for that matter) and still, according to you, I’m still not good enough.

Here’s me on paper:

I don’t smoke.

I drink very little – little enough to reduce my risk for the set of cancers that alcohol allegedly causes, but just enough not to be a bore at parties or raise my risks for the other cancers apparently caused by abstinence. (Is it me, or can we not win with this one??)

I exercise at least five times a week – the winning combo of weights, cardio and stretching/relaxation. I walk where and when I can, I bike in the summertime, I take the stairs at work. I’ve run six half marathons and when my current bout of plantar fasciitis clears off, I’m aiming for a seventh.

I eat mostly organic foods, when I can get my paws on them without breaking the bank.

I eat enough fruits, veggies and whole grains that I may actually have to be reclassified as a mountain gorilla.

OMG...how many calories are in this fern???

I rarely eat sweets or desserts (OK, I am currently in possession of some carrot cake that my friend Katerina made me for my birthday, but still…), I hardly ever eat junk food or fast food, and I eat slowly and practise portion control (which has a creepy ring to it, but I digress).

I eat red meat maybe four times a year, chicken and fish in moderation, and I am one of the few humanoid life forms who actually enjoys tofu.

I take a multi-vitamin every day, as well as vitamin D, Omega-3, and calcium (because I’m a girl). My BMI is well within normal parameters.

I don’t drive recklessly, I don’t use recreational drugs (seriously, can you imagine ME on chemicals??), I volunteer, and I have a small but close and decent circle of friends who either rally round or kick my arse as necessary.

I have a decent job, I sleep eight hours a night (really), I have hobbies that I enjoy and a cat to keep me company.

On paper, I look fabulous, darling. (In fact, I probably look like a bit of a bore, but never mind.) And yet…at my last (and final) physical with you, you didn’t want to hear any of it.

Instead, you plunked me onto the scale wearing nearly 10 pounds worth of winter clothing (I checked later at home), wrote something sinister in my file, and then sat me down and said “You’re fat.”

While I was collecting my jaw from the floor, you pressed your advantage: “You’re fat,” you repeated blandly, “and you’re getting fatter. You need to stop eating so much and get more exercise, otherwise you’re going to wind up as just another fat middle-aged woman.

“Start with losing 20 pounds, and ideally I’d like to see you lose about 40.”

How my doctor sees me.

Seriously, forty pounds? What the hell are we aiming for here – my entering the next decade of my life with the BMI of a Styrofoam peanut??

My friends, horrified (and noticing my sudden crash into self-loathing and depression), unanimously assured me a) that I was NOT a fat, lazy pig, and b) that you, sir, are the worst kind of misogynist, ham-handed, irresponsible Neanderthal, and should probably be reported to the CPSO.

(I don’t use the word “misogynist” lightly here, but you really, really have to wonder about a doctor who says “Man, I really hate doing these things” to a female during her “annual physical” — the yearly look-see up her “precious lady.”  Newsflash: it’s not exactly a day at Disneyland for us either, Big Guy, but it’s actually part of your job description. As my great grandmother Eudocia Smiter used to say,  if ships make you queasy, don’t join the Navy.)

Anyway, regardless of all this, I’ve thought of you every day during the last year and a half. In fact, several times a day – every time I go near the mirror, or the bathroom scales (to which I’m once again sadly, dangerously wedded), or the fridge, or the fitness studio to which I belong.

I hear your gloomy, accusing voice in my head every time someone offers me a glass of wine, or a piece of birthday cake, or a celebratory dinner.

Partly this is because I was anorexic for many years (which you know full well, you flat-headed troll), and partly this is because I’m a North American female and thus programmed to listen intently to any and all messages concerning weight, nutrition and body image like they are the word of God Himself.

Gosh, last year was like being a teenager all over again!

But thanks to my friends, and to the folks at my fitness studio, I’m once again starting to believe, albeit shakily, that not only am I NOT an ugly fat cow, but that my self-worth does not depend entirely on the ability to double as a swimsuit model should Milan suddenly experience a shortage of same.

Nyah nyah, the doctor likes me better!

As comedian Cathy Jones once said, via her alter ego Amanita Muscaria, “Don’t ye worry, love – everyone’s bum gets dimply.” I’m not perfect, by anyone’s standards, but I’m also not the Medical Emergency you seem to think I am, not by a long shot.

So you, my dear Dr Charisma-Bypass, can kiss my dimply little bum goodbye. I’m leaving you – for another woman, no less. Ha ha. It was not easy in these heady days of “sorry, we’re not taking new patients” but ultimately I really needed to have a GP who wasn’t going to recommend bariatric surgery every time I showed up with a cold.

In closing, I’d like to say that I hope, one day, that you develop the insight to consider if not a change of professions, at least a change of approach.

But since that seems about as likely as my magically dropping the 40 pounds allegedly weighing down my frame, I instead wish you a lifetime of grapefruit-sized hemorrhoids, with a side order of chronic flatulence that will make your family and friends (should you have any) wish that you lived in another solar system. Enjoy!

Your ex-patient,

Dr Smiter


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