A Medical Rant

A friend of mine has a medical problem that has nothing to do with her weight, but her weight means doctors refuse to treat her. She was in a car accident and had her knee replaced years ago. the replacement is now shot, though it lasted much longer than it was expected to.

The orthopedic surgeon she sees wants her to lose *130* pounds before they’ll replace her knee. Not just come down under 250 pounds or out of the “obese” BMI category. They want her to drop more than half her body weight and get into the middle of the “normal” category.

Keep in mind that she can’t fricking exercise because her knee is shot. She’s doing good to walk around a mall or amusement park for an afternoon without needing a scooter.

The kicker, though, is the reason they give for not doing the surgery. It isn’t that she’s at a higher risk of complications or anything like that. No, it’s that the replacement will wear out a little faster. Really? Seriously? So you guys are okay with having her in continuous pain for the next couple *years* (assuming she can maintain what’s considered a healthy rate of weight loss, a pound or two a week) because otherwise she might need another new knee in twenty years rather than twenty five?

Not to mention how they can really think someone who can’t exercise is going to lose weight without pretty much starving.

It just boggles the mind that doctors can see someone in pain and instead of helping, basically go “Oh well, sucks to be you.”


17 thoughts on “A Medical Rant

  1. maggiemunkee says:

    that kind of crap absolutely boggles my mind.

  2. maggiemunkee says:

    and i’m sure they’ve suggested gastric bypass as an option to help her get there, right? *fumes*

  3. JeninCanada says:

    That’s sick. How about “No. I’m telling you to replace my knee right fucking now (or as soon as fucking possible) or I’ll be taking my business elsewhere.”

    • KellyK says:

      That’s my suggestion. Problem is, she’s been told the same thing by multiple doctors. My advice was to go through the phone book until she finds someone who will fix it.

      • Ampersand says:

        That would have been my advice too. And if no local doctor will do it, find a doctor in Costa Rico.

        But I can understand why it’s really hard. Rejection hurts, asking hurts, and there are only so many spoons any of us have. 😦

      • KellyK says:

        Costa Rica…there’s a thought. The trip itself might be prohibitively expensive, but if worst comes to worst, saving up for a trip is a lot more feasible than losing 130 pounds.

  4. John Grebe says:

    That is insane that they would use weight as a BS excuse for refusing medical treatment for what should be a weight neutral condition. It is also something that it hitting very close to home given that the main reason why I’m trying to lose weight (which is pretty much not happening despite my best efforts) is joint problems and already having hip replacements which I want to last as long as possible as well as being able to put off needing knee replacements for as long as possible. Sadly I think my one hip replacement is starting to fail which makes it virtually impossible for me to be active, I can imagine how frustrating it is for her to be in that situation and hearing about that has me concerned that I might find myself in a similar situation too. Although quite honestly I probably would not be that nice about it and threaten (and likely do so if it doesn’t work) to take their refusal to provide needed medical care to the ACLU and or a medical malpractice lawyer, since after all doing nothing as a doctor when it is within your power to treat the condition is even worse than a well meaning attempt to treat going very wrong.

    • KellyK says:

      I really hope you don’t have that experience. I know there are good doctors out there, and I hope you will end up finding one.

      I’m sorry your weight loss attempts aren’t working–that’s hugely frustrating.

  5. T says:

    And people wonder why I distrust the medical profession so much. I hope your friend finds a doctor who is willing to treat her like a human being and get her a knee replacement soon.

    (Just to be clear, I am very much aware that there are tons of wonderful doctors, nurses, etc. out there. Unfortunately in my experience you don’t know which doctors etc. are going to be awesome and which are going to be sizist jerks until you’re sitting in their office, wasting your precious resources to listen to them berate you and refuse you treatment because of your size. As a result of stories like this one and the treatment I have experienced at the hands of sizist doctors, it takes LOT to get me to visit a doctor these days.)

    • KellyK says:

      There are definitely tons and tons of wonderful doctors and nurses out there. A huge part of the problem, I think, is that even the ones who are bad are not necessarily *trying* to be bad. They see fat as horribly unhealthy and completely within the patient’s control, and feel it’s their duty to get them to lose weight by any means necessary. I’ve gone to that same practice for ankle issues, and they were actually really helpful. (I’m amazed that they didn’t mention my weight, to be honest.)

      I think there’s something about the medical profession that either attracts or creates (or maybe both) ginormous egos and a sense that you know everything.

  6. Sarah says:

    It may not even be an issue of the knee replacement wearing out at all – but rather it could be pure blackmail, which is what happened to me. I needed a minor surgery and was initially refused the surgery to pressure me into getting WLS. I have a great GP and when he found out, he ranted at the hospital until they approved the minor surgery.

    • KellyK says:

      Yeah, I can picture it being blackmail “for her own good.” I’m glad your GP backed you up, and I hope you got the surgery you needed without any other problems.

  7. Emerald says:

    Kelly, they do this to people in some parts of the UK – it depends which NHS trust you come under – my own areas is one of those that won’t ‘do’ knees or hips on anyone over BMI 30, and they give that reason: ‘we’ll only have to do it again sooner because it’ll wear out quicker’. People who can afford it are going to Europe and having it done privately – I heard of one local lady who got her knee done in Belgium, no questions asked, and she’s been fine ever since.

    This really sucks. I hope your friend can find someone who’ll treat her, because the reasoning behind leaving someone in pain and immobile seems to go against what the medical profession is supposed to be all about.

    • KellyK says:

      That’s really messed up. I mean, I can understand wanting them to try to lose weight first (I don’t agree, but I can understand it), but after someone’s tried and failed, there should come a point where they’ll actually help you.

  8. Slyjinks says:

    Maybe the answer really is to find a whistle-blowing type news agency willing to call them on this bullshit. Unfortunately, these days most media just seems interesting in backing up the WLS story. :/

    • KellyK says:

      Yeah, and that sort of publicity would expose her to a lot of negativity, I think. (I’m picturing the local forum’s take on it, and shuddering.)

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