Friday, May 13, 2011

Medical Care Update

I 'met' (on the FatStudies List) a HAES-based naturopath today. It spurred me to reflect on the state of my medical care in the last year.

I've been seeing a naturopath in Los Gatos, CA for about a year now. I was struggling with chronic, intense sleepiness and I'd exhausted all my options with traditional medicine. The last option they offered me was to prescribe "uppers" -- with the caveat that they have side effects AND may or may not help. I was not a fan of this idea, but didn't feel like I had any other choices. My boss/colleague told me about this naturopath that had really helped her, and she was so convincing that I checked out her website. I was immediately concerned, because she offers weight loss support as one of her services... which would normally disqualify her from my life. But I'd gotten such amazing, passionate reviews from my boss, and I was out of options with regular medicine, so I wanted to try.

I did a phone consult with her before ever meeting her in person or paying out any money.On the phone, I explained to her that I wanted to see her if she thought she could help me with my medical needs, but that I did not want to hear anything about weight/weight loss. I went ahead and pulled out the big guns and shared with her that I struggle with disordered eating, depression/anxiety, and other issues that are triggered by weight loss focus in my medical care. (I wish I could have just said, "I prefer weight-neutral medical care," and that would have been enough. But past experience has taught me that even if they're open to that at the beginning, when we get into the various issues I have that are conventionally thought to be associated with weight, they cross that line.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that she took me at my word, and has diligently avoided any weight talk and has even been careful not to give food/eating rules until I ask her to. (For instance, she'll say my sugars are looking a bit high, and talks about supplements we can use to help with that. She didn't mention anything about avoiding certain foods/making dietary choices until I asked whether there were nutritional strategies we should be using too. Once I asked, she said she didn't know whether she should say that part because she didn't want to trigger me. I said I was open to general guidelines, just not pounds and calories.)

I hesitate to list her on a HAES website such as the Fat Friendly Health Professionals List or the HAES Community Resources page, because I think the only reason she's so careful is that I shared my particular issues. I don't know that she is generally HAES in her thinking. If I didn't have specific mental health issues that I had shared with her, I don't know that she'd be so careful -- so I'm inclined to think she's not generally HAES, but rather responding to a specific patient's needs. Still, that's better than the regular docs I am used to. They don't have any qualms stomping all over me with weight loss and even WLS recommendations despite -- or even directly in response to -- my sharing that a weight loss focus makes me sick, literally. Just being treated with compassion, as an individual, and having my eating disorder taken seriously, is a big darn improvement!

All of which is to say, she may not be 100% HAES, but she's 100% better for me than my supposed primary care physician. I've told my naturopath she's my *real* primary care physician. In my head, that is. I just keep the regular PCP on call for the few prescriptions my naturopath and I have decided I should continue.

I hear that in Oregon where she trained, she could actually be my PCP and I wouldn't have to mess with someone else for med management. That would be just grand! Hope California catches up someday...


  1. It is so refreshing to hear/read about health professionals that listen to and respect their patients/clients. I understand your hesitation though. If someone did not disclose up front that they wouldn't want any weight/diet related talk, who knows what might ensue. But good for you!

  2. Hmmm...I'm in Oregon, and this is relevant to me in a big way. I'm gonna have to do some research..thanks for sharing!