Hello, Doctor? It’s Me, Ashley.

This Coffee Chat is going to double as both a story and a PSA because I really feel like it’s something that needs to be said. It’s really long, so grab a snack.

I know I’m in good health. My blood pressure is always great. I’ve never struggled with diabetes or high cholesterol – but I’m fat. Call a spade, a spade, ya’ll. I am a curvaceous mama.

It took a long time for me to just accept the fact that I am never going to weigh 130 pounds. I won’t. I never have. And that’s okay. Health shouldn’t be defined solely by weight alone. I made a decision that I needed to love myself and to do that I needed to put my health first rather than try and achieve a number on a scale. If I changed my lifestyle, weight-loss would come with it.

Only it didn’t.

In fact, I have been gaining weight – and not because I’m eating food filled with crap. On the contrary – I eat vegetarian, drink tons of water and work out fairly regularly. Despite that, I was still gaining. Not to mention that there were a multitude of other things going on health wise that just weren’t like me – foggy brain, super fatigued, etc.

So like any good millennial – I WebMDed the hell out of it.

I figured my thyroid was probably out of whack and there was probably some type of vitamin b or d deficiency. I’m not a medical professional, but I’m not an idiot either. I did my research. That, coupled with the fact that the doctor had palpated my thyroid at a previous appointment, made a funny face said, “eh, I think it’s okay right now, we will check it later” so I said, “eh, it’s probably okay” and then did nothing about it, led me to believe this was probably the culprit.

Fast forward to last Tuesday – at my annual physical. The doctor had my previous-palpated-thyroid-notes in the chart that said, “this is a concern to be checked,” so please keep that in mind.

He looks over everything and commented, “You’re in better health than I am…but you know what I’m going to say.”

To which I responded with, “Yea, I’m fat…er than before. Which is actually something I’d like to discuss. I’m really concerned that I’m gaining weight and feeling so tired and foggy. I eat well, work out and still nothing. It’s like I’m walking backwards. I really think something could be going on with my thyroid. You said in April that it felt…pudgy.”

The doctor pondered on this for a split second, barely taking in what I was saying to him.

This, ladies and gentleman, is where I lost my humanity and because a number on a scale. Where I became “less than.”

He turned to me and asked a number of questions about what I ate on a regular basis, how often I worked out – seemingly picking apart my diet and lifestyle.

Only, he couldn’t see an issue with those things; at least not on paper – so he made the comment, “I mean, we will do the thyroid test, but I think you should see a nutritionist. Sometimes even when we think we are doing a good job, we aren’t aware of what we are putting into our bodies.” Since you know, because I’m fat, I must not know how to actually eat well or work out.

That was the first of many slaps in the face. I am very aware of what I put into my body. Hyper-aware even. I’m not going to claim I always eat well – because, tacos and coffee. But for the most part, I eat better than average. I was practically yelling at him to look at the chart where he made the note about a bigger issue, but he wasn’t hearing me or even choosing to listen.

He also told me I should food journal to keep a log of what I put into my body…because again, I must be mindlessly chowing down Oreos all day and not realizing it. I have done food journaling and became so obsessed with a number goal that everything else went out the window. I would starve myself just to hit it. I told him that I didn’t want to do that again.

Now would be a good time to mention that I live with OCD and anxiety. I’ve also struggled with body image issues my entire life. It has only been in the last few years that I started really accepting and loving myself as a whole – mentally and physically.

Once again, I reiterated that something else was going on beyond eating and exercising. I told him it was frustrating.

His response? He told me he could put me on weight loss pills. He made jabs at my mental health like, “Maybe you could use OCD to your advantage to lose some of the weight.” He poked at me and my willingness to get help, as if I wasn’t sitting in front of him begging for it. He said, “Don’t fight getting help from the nutritionist – your way obviously hasn’t been working.”

I felt my self-esteem plummeting. Blame was rising in the back of my throat. Self-doubt crept in, “Am I really that awful? How could I let myself get so disgusting? Why did I think I was pretty? I don’t deserve to feel pretty. Stupid girl. You’re wrong.”

The more he spoke the less I did, until finally, and all at once, I was defeated.

I was fighting tears of rage and disgust, not for him, but for me. I stopped defending myself and let the medical pedigree tell me that I was wrong. I was fat. I was a number that went up by my own hand.

When I left with a referral to a nutritionist and pamphlet on eating habits, I was in tears. I barely made it out of the office before they started. I sat in my car and picked myself apart. I tore apart the image of myself I had worked so hard to rebuild. In minutes it was just…gone.

I tried to eat a banana that afternoon and it felt like sand in my mouth. I sobbed uncontrollably and threw the world’s largest pity party. I had a full on panic attack where I pretended to be Barbara Streisand in Yentl…It was not pretty…but in hindsight…it was funny.

For days I selfishly agonized over my appearance. I hid my body with baggy clothes. I felt myself wanting to control the food I was putting in rather than enjoying the dinner with my family. I didn’t want to leave the house…I let this man with no credentials other than specific knowledge in a specific field, shred my view of who I was, to bits.

During all of that I convinced myself that when my blood work came back it would show that I was, in fact, everything unhealthy the doctor told me I should be, because I was fat.

Only…it didn’t.

All of my labs came back and were great…with the exception of my thyroid and vitamin d levels. I opened the results with one eye open, half asleep and on my phone and shouted, “JUSTICE!” In full-on, Vernon Dursley, Order of the Phoenix, manner. I nearly scared Sean to death. I was healthy, but more importantly – I was right.

I knew going into the doctor’s office that something within my body was off, that something wasn’t right. Yet, I let myself be bullied into thinking that I was wrong – for reasons I knew were false.

Rather than looking at me as an intelligent person who knew my body, the doctor instantly treated me like a fat person who didn’t know how to eat or live a healthy lifestyle and that was the problem.

I was fat-shamed.

But you can bet your sweet-ass that I won’t be again. No thank you.

I started picking up my pieces and putting them back together – where they had been before I let someone else tell me they shouldn’t be there at all.

I slapped on my red lipstick and said “FUCK. IT.” I wore skinny jeans. I pinched my fat rolls, sighed and ate a mango. I believed my husband when he told me I was pretty. I stopped letting someone else tell me that I was wrong, solely because I was fat.

I made a decision while I was reflecting on my mini-mental break down pretending to be Barbara, that I wouldn’t let this happen to anyone else who went to this particular doctor.

I have an appointment later this week to review my treatment plan for my thyroid. I won’t be going to another doctor in the future, either– why? Because this doctor needs to learn. I need to let my voice be heard. I need to heal the wounds that I let him cause. He needs to know the things he said and the way he handled the situation was wrong. He needs to listen.

I say ALL of that to say this – Do not let yourself be bullied by anyone, even if they have a medical degree. No one should be allowed to make you feel less-than. You are all beautiful. You are all worthy. You are all human. Our bodies are our own, and we live in them every day – and when we go to a doctor for help, we should be heard. If you feel like something is wrong do NOT back down until you have your answers.

Be brave and beautiful my lovelies, trust your instincts and listen to your bodies.

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Mother of three. Writer extraordinaire. Lover of art and music. Consumer of chocolate and wine.

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