Over the past 9 months or so I’ve been on a bit of a health roller coaster — crashing my bike at Challenge Atlantic City and doing some pretty significant damage to my knee, finally being diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and then having knee surgery to repair some of the damage I did during the bike crash. This has meant lots of doctors including the emergency room doctors, my general practitioner, two orthopedic surgeons, a gynecologist and two reproductive endocrinologists.
My (hopefully) final doctor’s appointment was scheduled on Tuesday with the orthopedic surgeon who did my knee surgery. He’s never been the most personable guy with me and I sensed that he viewed my stories about training and racing with suspicion. As I waited in an exam room on Tuesday morning, I heard him with the patient next door. The doctor spent over ten minutes discussing the patient’s training and goals and how to achieve them (not so great for patient confidentiality that I could hear everything). At that point I called Shaun and asked him, “does the doctor ignore my because I’m fat or because I’m female?” Shaun talked me off the ledge and told me I was imagining things. At that point the doctor walked into the exam room and things got worse.
Before asking me how I was doing or if I was able to start running or how my training was going, the doctor told me “you know that your weight is likely a contributing factor with your knee. While the surgery I did repaired a lot of the damage, if you don’t control your weight, you will undo all the improvements I’ve made.” He then went on and explained to me that through diet and exercise I could lose weight and that while “many people don’t know this, when you run 2.5 times your body weight goes through your knee.” I told him that I did know that; I then asked him if he knew what Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome was. He had no idea. I asked him if he read my intake questionnaire about how often I exercise. Nope. I then told him that I train about 15 hours per week and that I’m currently working with a registered dietician but due to hormonal issues I have an extremely difficult time losing weight. He stared at me. After a moment’s silence he told me that walking more might help me lose weight. Thanks.
After the lecture was over he asked if I had any questions or concerns. I told him that my right side was significantly weaker than my left side and I was wondering if physical therapy would help. He told me strength would come back on its own in six months to a year and that I should focus on weight loss. Awesome. At that point I was done. I had just heard him detail a physical therapy plan for a person he considered to be an athlete but because I didn’t look the part, I wasn’t worth the effort.
Now I understand that I’m fat. I also understand that my weight can adversely impact my knee. The doctor, however, couldn’t spend thirty seconds talking to me to understand that not only is this something of which I am acutely aware, but also that this is something I am doing everything in my power to control. If weight loss were as simple as walking and watching what I ate I would not be in my current position. There is no excuse for not talking to me (or reading my file). No matter what I look like I am still an athlete.