Wednesday, February 24, 2016

6 Months of Grief Project: Day 19

Exhausted Rage at the Doctor's Office

This is Day 19 of my #6MonthsOfGrief Project. To learn more about this practice, feel free to visit Day One, where I explain this project in more detail.

Today I went to the doctor. As many sudden widows will tell you, booking appointments, let alone actually GOING to them, can feel like climbing the most impossible mountain. We never know how we are going to feel on any given day and getting up, showering, and getting dressed can feel impossible on the deep grief days. I had been putting off getting my yearly physical and check-up for months. It got so bad that my doctor threatened to stop refilling my prescriptions if I didn't go, so I finally booked the damn appointment and got there on time.

Now, some of you may not know this, but I am a Fat, Strong Lady. Being fat and going to the doctor is it's own kind of hell, because Western medicine is convinced that one can't ever be fat and healthy, despite the myriad amounts of research proving the exact opposite. So whenever I walk into that doctor's office, I have to face a lot of biased, non-science-based weight loss talk. It's a battle on the best of days, let alone when I am in deep grief. 

The first thing the nurse always does is put you on a scale. I had a cheery, bubbly nurse, so it took me by surprise when she covered the number on the scale and asked me to "guess" what my weight was. "What is this, a carnival game?" I ask. She responds in her bubbly manner, "No! I just thought you would be surprised! You've lost 20 lbs. Good for you!" I stare at her, dumbfounded. Perhaps she does not know that I am a sudden widow. Perhaps she does not know that I still have a very hard time feeding myself. Perhaps she does not realize that sudden, extreme weight loss is not something to be celebrated, but questioned, as it is a sign that something significant has changed in the body.

I Should Have Stayed in Bed

So I ask her. "Are you aware that I am suddenly widowed?" She quickly checks her chart. "Oh yes, I see," she says. "Well, at least this is one good outcome!" she cheerily responds. Again, I stand there, dumbfounded. I can't even process what she is saying to me. Is she saying that a good thing coming out of my husband dying suddenly before my eyes is that I stopped feeding myself and lost 20 lbs? IS THAT WHAT SHE IS SAYING TO ME? 

This is how blind and deep our fat shaming and ignorance go in our society and healthcare system - that the fact that my weight loss is celebrated, when the much more real and painful truth of being a sudden widow, is more or less ignored. In fact, I asked her what resources she had around deep grief, and surviving the sudden loss of a partner and she didn't have anything to offer me. They don't even offer grief counseling at my healthcare facility. All she could give me was the number of their psychiatric unit. 

So I gritted my teeth and got through the rest of the check-up. "Wow, your blood tests all look great! That's so surprising!" the doctor says in shock. "But really, you should talk to our Wellness Coach about losing that weight." Oh really? So even though all your medical tests say that I am fine and healthy, you still think I should starve myself to reach an arbitrary number that has been proven to mean nothing?

These are the times that when my husband was alive, I would return home and cry on his shoulder. He would laugh, and tell me it's all BS and tickle me or paint my toenails or make me go outside to pull weeds with him. But instead, I return to a house that is cacophonous in its emptiness and I try to soothe myself. But all I can do is go to bed, without feeding myself and hope that sleep will take me away from my heartbreaking, stupid life for at least a few hours - just a little bit of respite from the pain.

I am very aware that this project can bring up a lot around yours or other's grief and loss, I will always follow every post with some online grief support resources that have helped me. Please feel free to let me know of online support that you have found healing in your grief, as well:


Living with Grief Resources:

And remember, I am sharing this project on a variety of platforms, including my InstagramTwitter, & Facebookfeeds, as well as my Pinterest page on Grief. I use the hashtag #6MonthsOfGrief, so it can easily be found on any platform. Please share this project with anyone you think might need it.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow.

43 comments:

  1. I am shaking in silent fury over your nurse's treatment of you. You are a stranger to me - I followed a friend's link on facebook - but it doesn't matter. You deserve to be comforted, to be heard, to be treated with respect, always, yes, but especially when grieving. I am so sorry for your loss, and for your continued suffering.

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    1. Dear Tristy, I am absolutely with Sullie here. This is outrageous! All the alarmbells of the nurse and the doctor should have been ringing when hearing that you lost that weight in such a short time; and they should have asked if you tend to sleep a lot - more than usual, if you feel numb on some days, feel intense sadness on others. I studied Psychology, and I am quite sure from everything you wrote lately that you might be suffering from depression. If you can bring yourself to do that, please look at this list of counsellors in your area:
      https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_results.php?city=Petaluma&spec=2

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    2. Thanks for your witnessing and words of support and please know that I am seeing a grief counselor and a therapist.

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  2. I'm so sorry that happened. I understand.I had four surgeries in the first year. I nearly punched the third nurse who asked me to take a pregnancy test. But then she cried with me. I promise you, it gets easier. Much love.

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    1. Oh, Lacy. That's so brutal. I'm so sorry that happened, and I'm thankful to have so many widows in my life who can share their wisdom with me.

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  3. I thought it was a simple mistake until you pointed out the probable cause/source of your WL and still she was clueless. I work at a medical school that prides itself on teaching the ethic of care which is something many in the current medical field are sorely lacking. A little empathy (and sometimes sympathy) goes a long way. I really hope that future medical professionals are being taught how to treat the whole person and not just what they see on the surface or read on a chart. I'm so very sorry for your loss of someone so special and meaningful in your life. That very thing is something I fear most. You say it's not easy, people are dumb (paraphrasing of course) and that this part of life is a day-to-day struggle gives people a reality check. It's not pretty, it is hard and we need to be able to say that to one another freely rather than cover it up with something fake or flowery because it's more comfortable. My heart truly breaks for your loss and others who have lost their loves and I wish you strength and continued courage to overcome obstacles as they arise and to love yourself as you are able. You are doing a good thing with this blog. Helping others often helps us in the process. Please take care and know someone out there in the world is thinking of you right now.

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    1. Thank you, H.S. Your words of support mean a lot to me. Thanks for witnessing my story.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. So sorry for your loss. This is the first post I've read, so you might already be aware of this author, but Alan Wolfelt has written some amazing books on grieving. As well, Pinterest has a Grief Group Board.

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    1. Thank you, Cynthia. I did not know about Alan Wolfelt's books or the Grief Group Board on Pinterest. I will check both of them out. I'm also pinning some Grief Art on Pinterest. You can see it here: https://www.pinterest.com/revtristy/grief-art/.

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  5. that nurse needs education about what is healthy. It is disgusting that so many people, especially in the field of health equate skinny with healthy.

    You should refuse being weighed. The only reason a doctor needs your weight is to monitor your weight - which you can do - and for medicating you. if you aren't getting medication you don't need to be weighed. If you do, still refuse it and make your doctor do it later.. they are generally more compassionate about it.

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    1. you can refuse being weighed even if you are taking medication. they can figure it out. it's like cooking [i was a chef]. for people who don't do it every day, having measuring cups is a must. for people who do, guessing is easier, and probably more precise, than even than measuring things out.

      i should note that for the last [i dont even wanna say how many] x years, i've had no choice but to refuse it; it just is not worth the severe, obsessive bulimarexia, which at this point would possibly end my own stupid life.

      x years of EDs have made me not real well, and you have to be well to keep up an eating disorder. sometimes, if you have a ¼-way decent clinic, they'll turn you around on the scale, but the best thing is to go to a doctor who will be kind and understanding. the cat-dragon list [http://cat-and-dragon.com/stef/fat/ffp.html] is wonderful for that— it is where i found my clinic. i just wish there were more clinics listed.

      where i go is good about everything else as well, i must say. i've been going there longer than two years, and they have even been very kind about what you may sign me,
      yr weary friend,
      +edi+
      widowed three years, six months 5½ days, by drugs [which they know]
      [what i know is that it gets easier, kind of, after a while, but it also gets stranger. i think there will be many days you do not feel entirely alone in yr house.]

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    2. Thank you to you both for your words of support and good information. I don't have a scale at home, so I am kind of interested to see how much I weigh when I go to the doctors, especially this time, because I was concerned at what I noticed seemed to be a bit of an extreme weight loss. Thank you for the cat-dragon list. I wish there were doctors listed for my area. I really need to get away from Kaiser, because they have this whole "Wellness" system that they keep trying to put "overweight" people in. It's a factory based on nonsense and I'm sick of it. Hopefully I will be able to find a weight-neutral doctor soon.

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  6. Hi Tristy, Thanks for your post(s). I can't imagine some of the things you're going through, but what your're writing, and how you're sharing, is giving me bright insights into a wonderful soul.

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    1. Thank you, John! I appreciate your words of support very much.

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  7. Oh my goodness. What a blatant lack of basic human empathy. I'm so sorry.

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    1. Thank you. It really does feel like that. I appreciate your witnessing and your kind words of support.

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  8. I don't know you, but i have experience lose--YOU are a different person. Losing a partner, or a parent, or any important person changes you. And you change as a result. sometimes the change is deliberate, sometimes it just happens. It is a part of grief, an outward change to partner with the inward change. You might gain the weight back (or not) but you will never be the same. Yes, the nurse was wrong--but you are going to be OK.

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  9. Offering you comfort and support at this devastating time. It's so hard to take that crap on the best of days. Hopefully she will understand her mistake and learn from the experience.

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  10. I don't know you but I've been where you're at. (My Husband of 29 years passed in 2010 less than 30 days after his initial illness - 48 hours after being told he was terminal.) Do yourself a favor, don't internalize their lack of intelligence. I too experienced a dramatic weight loss. When I finally went to the doctor for help (PTSD, anxiety, depression), she found an underlying health condition more than likely caused by my inability to sleep. You do what you need to do and don't let anyone put you on a "timetable". As another poster said, you are different and your life will never be the same. You need to get comfortable with the "you" you are and will become. I have found that the pain of loss never really goes away but becomes more bearable over time. I send you strength and good wishes...

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    1. Thanks for your wishes of strength and good wishes.

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  11. There are no words to convey the fury I feel for what you endured today. No one should ever have to go through that. My husband is about to turn 40, and nothing scares me more than the thought of losing him. I cannot begin to imagine what you have endured, and the bravery with which you are sharing that humbles me.

    I am so sorry you endured such callous treatment at the hands of so-called medical professionals. It's sickening and makes my stomach literally turn.

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    1. Thanks for witnessing my journey and for your words of support, Lucie.

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  12. That's actually unbelievable. I'm so sorry you had to go through that on top of everything else you have to deal with.

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  13. Tristy,
    I'll go with you next time - nobody will treat my new friend that way! Last time I went to the doctor, when it came weigh in time I told the nurse to write down "patient doesn't care", and SHE DID.
    I see that you call your husband your "Bear"; I lost my "little bear" 5 years ago. He was 15. I feel your emptiness. Your description of the "cacophony" of the empty house brought an immediate flashback. Keep breathing and living.... you'll reach solid ground again one day!

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    1. Thanks, Deirdre. I'm so sorry to hear you lost your "little bear." That's heartbreaking. I'm looking forward to finding solid ground someday.

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  14. I am a sudden widow as well and my heart breaks for you. I am so sorry that you had to endure that on top of your deep grief. Hugs to you. xo

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    1. Hugs to you, Ann. I'm so sorry you have gone through this too.

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  15. Tristy, I thank you for your honesty and courage in sharing your journey. Your story above made my blood boil - as a woman, as a griever and as a grief coach. We are so fearful of grief that it turns some people SO insensitive, it always blows my mind, no matter how many stories I hear. I am SO sorry this happened to you. This loss has changed you, for sure - and has also opened you to many avenues of support. Take things a moment at a time (because a whole day can feel like forever) and take excellent care of yourself in whatever way you can. And bless your big heart for sharing your experiences so that others may benefit. I wish you heartfelt healing. www.youcanhealyourgrief.com

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    1. Thank you, Claire. And thanks for the great work you do in the world. I'm happy to hear about your work and look at your website. Thank you for witnessing my journey and for your words of support.

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  16. Almost 30 years ago, at aged 29 I became a sudden widow. I can still remember sitting in the ER with a broken foot at about the 6 months mark, not wanting to check the box for marital status because the reactions were always so random, and sometimes stunningly painful.

    I wish the web had existed when I was going through the first few years. It can be very isolating, so thank you for creating and writing and making visible the hidden grief.

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  17. I'm so sorry that nurse treated you so(!!) poorly, and also very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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  18. I found you through Dances With Fat.
    I'm so sorry for your loss, my sincere condolences.
    I'm also sorry for the BS; you shouldn't have to go through it.
    ((Big Squeezy Hugs to you))

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  19. I found this through Dances With Fat. I don't even know where to begin. Because skinny at any cost includes wasting away from grief in our society. I'm sorry you had to experience both the sudden death of your husband and that horrendous nurse. I wish you all the best with finding appropriate help dealing with your grief.

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  20. I am so sorry for your loss. And dumbfounded by your experience today. You are not alone. In your grieving, nor in these other struggles. Best wishes to you, today and every day.

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  21. Tristy, I am totally not a medical professional but 20 pounds in 19 days is very dangerous and I'm so sorry these ass hats didn't put 2 and 2 together. When I had a friend lose weight at that speed, he had regular twice-a-week doctor checkups to be monitored. Please, take care of yourself. And find a new doctor. Seriously.

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  22. Jesus. I wish I could say I can't believe it, but sadly, I can. I've been both very thin and now, very not, and I'm dealing with a chronic illness that has nothing whatsoever to do with weight. But somehow they skip all the important stuff you have to fill out every damned visit and just look at size. You showed great restraint. I know I haven't in certain situations.

    Thinking of you.

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    1. Thanks, Lori. I'm sorry you are dealing with a chronic illness and have to deal with this blatant size-ism as well. It's exhausting.

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  23. Oh my! I am beyond shocked and horrified at this "This is how blind and deep our fat shaming and ignorance go in our society and healthcare system - that the fact that my weight loss is celebrated, when the much more real and painful truth of being a sudden widow, is more or less ignored."
    Has this woman no shame!???
    I am so sorry for your huge and sudden loss and furious on your behalf at the hands of these imbeciles. Much love and support hun xoxox

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