Family Physicians & Obesity- A Patient Letter written, But never Sent

Today’s guest post comes Jodi Krah, a member of CON’s Public Engagement Committee. You can see a note from Jodi at the end of this post.


dear-doctor

Dear Doctor,

I’ve always respected you. You’ve fixed all kinds of ailments like the time I cut my leg open on my motorcycle – you stitched me up like a champ, I had a bursa on my leg once – you found it and had it removed, and when I fell down a flight of stairs and broke my arm and leg – you  helped me get through this too. It’s just a small fraction of the care and attention you have given me over the years. We’ve had many conversations about life and its trials and tribulations and you’ve listened and been supportive.

But our obesity dialogue for the majority of my life has been relatively non-existent. In fact, in my recollection the only time it was discussed was when I was trying to do something on my own which resulted in temporary weight loss. During one weight loss cycle you once asked if I was exercising. But when I said no, you told me I was just going to gain my weight back. No front and back dialogue, this pretty much sums up the entire feedback you’ve had for me on this topic.

But now I’m having health issues as a result of my obesity there is a couple things I would like you to know about me:

  • I’m embarrassed about this. I have spent a good deal of time beating myself up and I’m frustrated by my inability to solve this.
  • I will hope you don’t want to talk about it because I might cry – you know the kind of cry when there’s a lump so large in your throat that talking will be difficult or almost impossible. I’ve been bullied, lonely and left feeling like an outsider for most of my life so the pain still rests on the surface – I apologize ahead of time for the tears.
  • I will assume it’s my responsibility and that I just need to try harder and have more willpower because for over 4 decades of my life I have been told I just need to eat less and exercise more.
  • I won’t be thinking of my health; I will be thinking about losing weight. I will not understand there is a difference.
  • I won’t expect much from you like treatment recommendations. But if you ever do decide to talk about it, I’m worried about the treatments like gastric bypass surgery because of the misinformation that floods the Internet. I won’t ask a lot of questions because I see you’re busy and I don’t want to look stupid.
  • In the back of my mind I’m worried about drastic weight loss because I don’t want to be a curtain of hanging skin if it actually happens, but I won’t tell you this because it sounds like I’m vain and petty.
  • I’ve failed so much that I don’t think I will be successful. I feel pretty hopeless and resigned to the fact that no one understands what it is like to live in this world with obesity.

Knowing this about me will you help me? Or have you given up too?

 

Sincerely,

Your Patient

 


One of the biggest regrets in my life is that I didn’t seek a family physician that supported my health needs related to obesity and that took the time to have those conversations. When I found a bariatric specialist that really understood this disease and focused on my health, I was able to rebuild my life. If I would wish for one thing from all family physicians it would be that they have the most current training on obesity. Your wisdom builds patient trust.

 

Jodi Krah

Allana

I have a PhD in population health from the University of Ottawa looking at why children are sedentary, the difference between types of sedentary behaviour (as you’d expect screen time is much worse than reading a book!) and what we can do about it in Canada, and around the world. I completed my master’s at Queen’s University in kinesiology and epidemiology, and graduated from Acadia University with a double major in biology and kinesiology. I am also a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, a Clinical Exercise Specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine and a Physical Activity in Public Health Specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine/National Physical Activity Society. I love to be active, especially when I get to be outside and especially when I get to explore a new city!