Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Modern Medicine, Meet Obesity . . .

A colleague sent me this story.

A 5' tall, 275 pound woman was allegedly refered to the ZOO for an MRI when she was discovered to be too big for the MRI machines at the University of Kansas Hospital in the Kansas City area.

Now - I know very, very well that obese people can't fit in any/all situations - especially medical equipment and I have had my fair share of humiliating medical experiences (including having to go to the emergency room to be weighed, breaking one of my dentist's chairs in my DC days and having a primary care physician in Connecticut (that I shan't mention by name here) who might have been the rudest "professional" I have ever dealt with as a morbidly obese person, etc.) but I would hope a medical "professional" would know that there are options, like "open" MRI machines that might preclude them from refering an obese patient to the ZOO for medical treatment.

I respect the fact that the medical community, save the kind and understanding professionals who work in obesity-specific environments (like the outstanding surgery and support teams at Danbury Hospital and the folks I worked with at Union Memorial in Baltimore too), focus more on the harm obesity does to your body and the troubles of medicating the obese more than the empathy it might require to deal with and help the obese. I get that MOST of society, at the end of the day, has an anti-obesity bias (despite the fact that we are, statistically, all getting fatter) and I, sadly, am well aware that obesity is the last, "great", socially acceptable form of bigotry that we cling to in this country.

I was flicking channels for Ava during her TV time last night and even an episode of the always-pithy Hannah Montana featured a "Jabba the Gut" pun from some kid on an airplane who was seated next to a fat man who was stereotyped right down to the loud, Hawaiian shirt so another generation of Americans will learn it is okay to make fun of fat people . . . just not washed-up country/pop music singers and their hack daughters/meal tickets (yeah - guilty as charged of NOT being a Miley Cyrus fan).

Anywho - let's just try to remind people that you can find open MRIs in most communities and most zoos won't treat people anyway . . . even the unlovable, animal-like obese. Tsk, tsk in the meantime - Jayhawk nation!


Larraine said...

As an obese person who has had THE surgery, I understand your frustration. However, in some cases Open MRI just doesn't cut it. That's a true story by the way. There was a television show on TLC about a weight loss clinic in NY that had a man there who was mortally afraid that the pain he was experiencing was cancer. So they agreed to take him for an MRI. The staff called hospitals all over trying to find an MRI big enough. In the end,if I remember correctly they did. I have had an MRI, and was afraid that I wouldn't fit. Luckily I did. Quite frankly, I think they could be a little bigger. I have a touch of phobia about closed spaces.

Sean C. Amore said...

To be clear, Larraine, I understand that open MRIs don't have the resolution or power that might be needed to evaluate and diagnose for certain medical conditions. I'll give you that (and was not looking to argue that point). I just think there are other options for the obese before the ZOO.

I don't expect the world to get bigger to accomodate the obese but I would like mindsets to expand . . . not too much to ask!