Francesca must lie down with a cold cloth on her brow

Francesca knows that you think she is always on top of her to-do list and perfectly motivated and organized all the time, but she has a secret for you: Francesca sometimes – not often, mind you, only once every long while — wastes time on the internet.

One of her favorite destinations is the “What’s New” section at Snopes.com, the site where one may investigate the veracity of internet rumours and odd news stories. Each day, in addition to well-researched information that tells you that, no, Bill Gates will not give you a dollar for each person to whom you forward that email, they post a roundup of strange or silly news from around the world.

Today, two articles caught Francesca’s attention with their references to the Big Girls . . . and made Francesca’s head come oh so very close to exploding! Yes, the Francesca has lost her equanimity! It is an occurrence to cause the concern!

First, is yet another frustrating story about a woman who had a real, live health problem, and was grossly misdiagnosed by her doctor, who saw her fat and decided that losing weight was all she needed to do:

The unidentified woman said after visiting a health clinic to complain about a swollen abdomen, she was allegedly told by a doctor to attempt to lose weight to deal with the problem, the Swedish news agency TT reported Friday.

The woman said she returned to the clinic several other times after the problem persisted and was denied when she asked for an ultrasound.

A private doctor eventually conducted an ultrasound and discovered a cyst inside her abdomen which weighed nearly 18 pounds.

The news agency said the Medical Responsibility Board has since been informed about the woman’s initial doctor, who was a temporary employee at the clinic, and his inaccurate diagnosis.

What most angers Francesca is that when a woman comes back repeatedly asking for an ultrasound, it means that she feels, in her body, that something unusual is happening.  Perhaps she had always been thin, and suddenly gained weight even though she had not altered her eating or exercising routines. Or perhaps she had always been overweight, but this time something was different — she could feel it. Either way, if a woman is insisting that there is something going on, then there very well may be something going on. But the “doctors” at this clinic did not consider that possibility, because obviously if the woman is fat, then all she is is fat. Nothing else about her is important, not even the possibility of a cyst, and not even the possibility that she is intelligent enough to know her own body.

Grrrr!

Second, we have here a sad, sad story about a woman in New Zealand who relied on an oxygen machine to breathe, and who died after the utilities company shut down the electricity at her house:

Muliaga’s husband, Lopaavea, told the court that he contacted Mercury Energy in early May 2007 to try to arrange paying their overdue power bill in installments but was unsuccessful.

He made a payment in May but the power was disconnected eight days later. At the time, he testified, he thought he only owed $26.67.

Mercury Energy said at the time that $130.12 was owed.

An emotional Lopaavea Muliaga said he was at work when the power was cut and arrived home to find his wife dead and two ambulance officers at the house.

He said by the time of her death his overweight wife needed the oxygen machine 16 hours a day to help her breathe.

In the wake of Folole Muliaga’s death, the power company said it would review the way it deals with customers with medical dependencies and those in financial difficulty.

Notice that nowhere does the article state why Ms. Muliaga required an oxygen machine. Perhaps the Associated Press reporter who wrote this story believes that by describing her as overweight, he or she has told us all we need to know. As in, “ah, yes, she was overweight, therefore she her entire respiratory system shut down– because, you know, as soon as your BMI goes into the ‘overweight’ category you only have seconds to live– and therefore she died when the electricity went off.”

Of course, we all know that the vast majority of overweight people can breathe on their own just fine, thank you very much. Ms. Muliaga was not a victim of her fat, she was a victim of whatever profound illness caused her to need the oxygen machine (and of the power company). Even if being overweight is a risk factor for whatever illness it was — and the article does not substantiate this assumption — it still does not tell us anything salient.

What is sad is that so many people think it does, including a reporter and a copy editor at the Associated Press.

Grrrrrr.

Francesca will now uplift herself with  one of these darling, darling cotton skirts, available in Woman and Woman Petite sizes at Talbots:

They are adorned with itsy-bitsy dragonflies, palm trees, or flamingos, and are much more useful and smile-making than the stupid reporters. Francesca hath spoken.

10 Responses to “Francesca must lie down with a cold cloth on her brow”

  1. Chaser May 21, 2008 at 9:52 am #

    “His overweight wife” may well have become overweight because of the condition that tied her to the oxygen because that so limits your activity–iow, the causation could be the other way around (the condition caused the weight gain rather than the weight gain causing the condition).

    What am I saying? As soon as you can see somebody is fat, of course you already know everything you need to know about him/her. You know how healthy she is, you know how in control she is of her life, you know she has terrible self-esteem and daddy issues–I mean, it’s all just so obvious.

  2. Toby Wollin May 21, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    Yep, as we all know – fat ergo every health problem you have is a) due to teh fat and b) it’s all your own fault. My mother, who was never fat, died of congestive heart failure and emphasema due to (wait for it..wait for it) smoking and heart disease. Wait..maybe she was SECRETLY fat…INVISIBLY fat…fat that no one could see…but it killed her anyway? Nope – never fat. She was 5’10”, wore a 38A bra(and just try to find those, I tell you), grew up playing basketball, tennis, and field hockey, was active and never fat. Ever. She still developed heart disease and CHF…oh, the fact that every single one of her other 6 sisters and brothers had it too(her younger brother had his first heart attack at 49; her mother died at 62 and her grandmother died of the exact same thing at 55) doesn’t count for a thing. Truly. She must have been secretly fat.

  3. Cat May 21, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Not being listened to by one’s doctors, and being misdiagnosed as a result, is not limited to big girls. It happens to women of all sizes. My mom, who has never been a big girl, was rushed into emergency gall bladder surgery several years ago. She’d been to see her doctor repeatedly about her symptoms, and he did nothing but patronize her and diagnose her with back pain, which he made clear he thought she was faking because, of course, whatever he prescribed for the “back pain” wasn’t working and she kept coming back. It wasn’t until a woman at my mom’s church, who happens to be a nurse, noticed one Sunday morning that my mother was horribly jaundiced that she went to see a different doctor and was immediately diagnosed and admitted to the hospital.

  4. Twistie May 21, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    That first story reminds me of one from my childhood. A friend of mine started running a high fever, complaining of abdominal pain, and vomiting. Her mother, of course, took her to see her doctor…who refused to even examine my friend. Why? Because she was a twelve-year-old GIRL with an hysterical MOTHER.

    Yeah, that’s what was wrong. It was all in her head. It was silly adolescent hormones whose effect was exagerrated by a woman with yet more female hormones. It couldn’t have been the fact her appendix was bursting, now could it? By the time her mother got up the nerve to just take her to the ER without the doctor’s say so, my friend’s appendix had burst and she needed a much more complicated surgery. Oh, and she lost an ovary.

    It was the one and only time I ever saw my father cousel someone to sue anybody over anything. I only wish my friend’s mother had taken his advice. Goodness only knows who else got denied medical treatment by that man for whatever bizarre reason popped into his head.

    If anyone’s got the stomach to read more stories of fatphobia and dismissal of fat patient’s symptoms, they might want to check out the blog First, Do No Harm (http://fathealth.wordpress.com/). There’s a link on the site to a list of fat-friendly health care professionals by area. If you are looking for a good doctor, you might want to take a look at the list. If you have a gem of a doctor who isn’t hysterical about OMG! TEH FATZ!!, you might want to let them know about him or her.

  5. Lysana May 21, 2008 at 7:54 pm #

    Here, darling Francesca. Have a lovely cat macro that so fits your blog:

    http://icanhascheezburger.com/?p=52472

    I do hope it makes you feel better.

  6. Jennie May 22, 2008 at 1:36 am #

    Kitteh in Crocs! So wrong in so many ways. My doctor told me my depression would go away if I lost weight. Now considering that both of my skinny sisters and my average mom suffer from depression, makes me wonder if life would be worth living if I were food deprived and thin! Somehow, I don’t think so!

  7. Genevieve May 22, 2008 at 8:58 am #

    I second Twistie- I remember when my (not big, but young) sister was in the hospital for endocarditis, and when she came home, her ankles were swollen like she was pregnant, her face was getting puffy…hmmm, all signs of, oh, I don’t know, HEART FAILURE?

    So she and my mom went back and they were like, “Well, you should expect some weight gain, and the ankle swelling will go away, it’s in part a response to being in bed for a month…” the hysterical mom response. They did some test and nothing showed up, but all physical signs were there, to the point that my sister couldn’t walk like, for two minutes without being out of breath. My mom kept persisting until she found a surgeon who was like, “Um, wtf? This is super serious, get in here NOW, and um, if they said to exercise, don’t listen to them, that is the last thing needed right now” did another type of test, found out that there was a small hole on a part of her heart that due to its location, never showed up on the original test. Thank god, he was able to fix it and she’s doing great now, but really! Puffy ankles do not = fat, lack of muscle and stamina done does not = automatic OMG UR SICK get thee to a treadmill, hysterical mom = something is very wrong and if a person who has been living in their own skin their entire lives says “look, this doesn’t feel *normal*,” then you pay attention to that.

  8. class-factotum May 23, 2008 at 8:09 pm #

    The AP. Ugh. They call Burma “Myanmar” and refuse to use the word “terrorist,” (or is that Reuters?), saying that it’s all in your perspective. What a bunch of maroons.

  9. Sarah June 2, 2008 at 3:50 am #

    class-factotum, your bias is showing.

  10. Bridey June 2, 2008 at 1:57 pm #

    So is AP’s….

    The “terrorist” maroons are at Reuters, however.