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doctor phobia!

April 30, 2010

[Current Weekly Question: What does it feel like for you when you are in touch with your body?]

Sigh.  I need a root canal.

I have pretty good teeth, or so I thought.  I had never had a cavity before, so I guess I didn’t realize the warning signs when one of my molars started aching a few weeks ago.  Or, maybe I just ignored the signs.  Much more likely.

Even though teeth have little to do with weight or the rest of the body, I think my extreme resistance about going to the dentist is actually closely linked to my history with body shame.

Because let me tell you:  I HATE going to the doctor.  It makes me outright panic.  And I think I associate the concept of going to the dentist closely enough to the whole doctor scenario that I dreaded it too.

Most people do dislike going to the doctor.  It’s certainly not what most people think of as a good time.  But some people go into the doctor’s office and feel like criminals; some people look at the BMI chart and see the words YOU ARE BAD in thick red letters across the top.  People like me.

I haven’t always feared doctors.  My first pediatrician, Doctor B, made me feel comfortable & accepted and he had a good sense of humor.  He told my parents that, even though I was on the heavy end of the spectrum, there was nothing was wrong with me physically (besides my knee).  Unfortunately, this was the start of an interesting but damaging controversy.

My mom, who has always been of the “acceptance over weight-control” philosophy, readily agreed with Doctor B without a second thought as to the potential health risks of de-emphasizing weight.  My dad, however, was so concerned that this approach was too lenient that from then on I was only allowed to see pediatricians with strict beliefs about weight who would recommend more rigid regiments.

As my parents battled over their philosophies, the focus started to shift towards weight OVER health, not simply in conjunction with it, and as a child I experienced a pervasive sense of being pulled apart and punished rather than cared for; these are the things I came to associate with doctors, and with weight-loss in general.

The irony & the tragedy is that everyone thinks they are helping.  Acceptance is an important piece of the picture, but it alone is not enough;  alone it can lead to neglectful inaction.  On the other hand, although there are certainly health problems associated with being heavy, I think we have been taught to fear and loathe excess weight so much that we believe it is a crisis worthy of extreme measures, which can be damaging: one side effect of this fear is that people who are naturally heavier are pushed farther and farther away from taking care of themselves, ashamed and scared off from the whole topic of weight-loss and from going to routine medical appointments that could prevent actual health crises.  Either way, you are neglecting what your body really needs and not loving your body.

This is what I am trying to overcome.  The truth is, my parents were both wrong in certain ways, but they were also both right, and I am finding the balance between their philosophies.  You have to accept yourself and love yourself and then you have to do what it takes to take care of yourself from that loving place.

So, now I am taking control!  Better late than never.  Today I went to the dentist (and the endodontist)!  And I didn’t even panic when they took my blood pressure, apparently, because it was a beautiful 112 over 71.

I am still overdue for many routine medical appointments, so I’m making it my goal (now that I have broken my boycott of all things medical by going to the dentist yesterday) to make (and keep!) these appointments in the month of May.

Wish me luck!

❤ Diana Banana

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 11:50 am

    Hi,thanks for the great quality of your blog, each time i come here, i m amazed.

  2. Jody Savage permalink
    June 19, 2010 11:07 pm

    Wow. Thank you for writing this.
    BTW when I worked in diabetes care, I read that people with diabetes who floss their teeth have better controlled diabetes. Doesn’t mean there is a cause and effect relationship – maybe people who floss are also more conscientious about diabetes management – but preventive care is a form of self love.

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