Almost a year has passed since you visited me as I laid in the CCU at Greenville Memorial Hospital. Five days after admittance and barely a day off the ventilator, I had overcome a mountain of odds that said I might not ever wake up or that if I did, I might have significant brain damage. Nurses and other doctors from the ER had started dropping by my room. “I heard you were awake and talking, and I just had to see it for myself,” or “I can’t believe you’re doing so well so fast,” were common statements.
You, however, strolled in wearing your pristine white coat, nonchalantly glanced at my chart, and asked me how I was feeling. When I responded positively, the corners of your mouth turned up in a smirk as you said, “I guess now you’ve got your incentive to lose weight.”
I know you said your name, but the only thing I remember about it was that it sounded unusual, like it probably wasn’t spelled the way it was pronounced. When I got home a week later, I scoured the cardiology practice and lung center websites to see if I could recognize a name or a face, but nothing looked or sounded familiar. If I passed you on the street, I wouldn’t recognize your face either. All I recall is the white coat and that shit-eating smirk.
I was alone in the room, one of the few times I was during my stay, and I’m sure that’s why you took the liberty to shame me. If my mother — or, God help you, my husband — had been there when you visited, either of them would have ripped you a new one. But that’s not your style is it? If someone had been with me, a confrontation would have ensued, but me alone, wit muddled by a concoction of drugs, tethered to IVs, and stuck like a human pincushion — well, that was just too tempting for the coward in you.
It must have been such a rush for you, being able to look down from your healthy high horse at us lowly obese patients. Be honest, did you have to “adjust yourself” after leaving my room because you got a little too excited over it?
It hasn’t been the easiest of years, but I did start going to the gym in January. I hit the treadmill hard, and in April I walked a 10K over the Cooper River Bridge in Charleston, a little over six months after almost dying. Your smug-ass face actually didn’t cross my mind. I haven’t thought about you much at all except for the past week or so, now that the one-year anniversary of the whole incident is about a month away.
Some people believe fat shaming overweight people is the way to get them to lose weight. Tough love, cruelty, mean words — those are the techniques we disgusting obese people need to get us mad so we can prove everyone wrong. Then you turn it around, “See? If I hadn’t said those things, you never would have done it.” Like we should bow down and give you the glory for our success.
Let me make this clear, Dr. Fat-Shaming Cardiologist. You will never get a solitary ounce of credit for any weight I’ve lost, any physical hurdle I clear, any non-scale victory I experience. Once I’m done rattling off this letter, you’ll go back to the shadowy place I put you in the back of my mind. What I choose to remember were the other doctors and nurses who actually have a bedside manner and know how to express concern and compassion for patients who are recovering from the brink of death.
You have no place in those memories, and you have no power over me.
The Woman Who Came Back to Life