Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

August 11, 2010

Breaking News: Miss Plumcake is Too Fat To SIT

Filed under: Uncategorized — Miss Plumcake @ 2:51 pm

Okay, so sorry about the skip day yesterday but I’ve got a doozy for you today.

Your pal Plummy is not without a certain air of intimidating glama. I do not, as a general rule, get pushed around. Now it may be because I’m so painfully sophisticated as to be beyond reproach OR it could be that when approached by a fat girl with violet hair and a non-ironic parasol the best possibly action is to give it what it wants until it goes away. Six of one, half dozen of whatever.


Because I am a delicate petal, I need a regular infusion of the blood of virgins some crazy expensive drug made out of unicorn tears to keep me at my best. For three years, my sexseminal (which is an excitingly dirty-sounding word I just made up to mean “every six weeks”) infusion sessions have gone a little something like this:

Nurse Jabby McStabberson escorts me back to the infusion office

Nurse Jabby McStabberson SAYS MY NAME WRONG for about the mazillionth time SERIOUSLY IT IS NOT THAT HARD OKAY.

Nurse Jabby McStabberson takes my vitals, plops me in this enormous Barcalounger of the Damned and proceeds to stab me in various tender parts of my person, blowing veins with a sort of carefree insouciance not usually seen in the medical arts and eventually hooks me up to my unicorn tear IV where I hang out for a few hours until I’m done and she unjabs me.


Yesterday she escorts me past the Barcalounger of the Damned and plops me in an office chair. Fine.  That’s new, but whatever. I asked her why I wasn’t going into one of the regular infusion rooms, and she said some guy came in late and blah blah blah.

Clearly she was lying, so I gave her The Look.

Turns out there’s a weight restriction on the BLs of the D.

You can’t sit in them if you weight more than 250 pounds, so instead of sitting in the ENORMOUS industrial grade chair that weighs more than my car I have to get my infusion in a seven-pound office chair.


Except here’s the thing:

I had been over 250 pounds since the time I started getting my infusion nearly three years ago. Sat in the chair every time. Never broke the chair. Never fell through the floor piercing the earth’s core with my enormous heft and plummeting ass-first into the creamy nougat center of our humble island home. Nothing.

Now I gotta say, I’m not really that irked. I am a little, because I know Something Is Up, either someone got sued because an infusion chair broke on them, or who knows, but I’m sort of at a loss.

Was sitting in the office chair inconvenient? Not really. I liked it just as well as the B of the D, plus that office has a door instead of a swinging curtain.

Was I humiliated? Again not really. Weight limits are weight limits and I get that. It’s a safety thing, and although I wonder what sort of enormous thousand-pound chair can’t support more than a quarter of its weight, whatever.

But I AM annoyed. I’m annoyed the doctor didn’t tell me. I’m annoyed that they can’t be bothered to get ONE infusion chair that will support more than 250 pounds reliably. I’m annoyed that the nurse would lie to me, and I’m annoyed on behalf of all my fat brothers and sisters who have the Fat Shame and where, instead of it being a minor irritation to me –because I gave up shame the same time I gave up scrunch socks– could WRECK them and maybe stop them from getting the medical help they need because they don’t want to deal with the shame of NOT being accommodated the way more slender patients are.

I also wonder: would they make my brother, who is 6’2″ and built like a football player –big, not fat– and probably over 250 sit in the office chair?

What do you think about it?


  1. As a nurse, I would be so embarrassed by the fact that we didn’t have the right equipment for you. Not embarrassed enough to come with a really bad lie, though. And as you point out regarding your brother, 250 is not THAT outlandish.

    The doctor probably has no clue, in my experience they have nothing to do with the practical stuff, they just show up when everything is ready, make a mess, and then disappear while your back is turned. But the nurse should just have been up front with you, said they’d been made aware that there was a weight limit on their crazy infusion thrones and that she’d find you a REAL CHAIR (not some uncomfortable twirly-ma-bob piece of crap), and sorry for the inconvenience. Now was that so hard?

    Comment by Rebekka — August 11, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

  2. Yeah, here’s another vote for 250 being an unrealistically low benchmark…

    I also work in a clinic, and I remember being shocked when a tumor board of physicians couldn’t figure out what to do with a patient who was too heavy for a particular machine. I should mention also that I work for a cancer clinic, and we see quite a few patients who are either large to begin with or gain a lot of weight due to their treatments, so this was hardly an OMG WHAT DOES IT MEAN sort of situation.

    Comment by Evie — August 11, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  3. Ah the Fat Shame …

    I suspect that a great deal of Fat Shame comes not from one’s personal embarrassment at one’s size, but from the knowledge of that poll that sez that, overwhelmingly, thin people (think they) would rather have CANCER than be fat. We imagine how they must look at us, and therefore … the Shame.

    The one place where that Does Not Belong is the Doctor’s office. I suspect that the nurse simply was doing reverse-Fat-Shame, that is, she assumed it would be so very embarrassing for YOU to mention your weight that she told a lie. I mean – jeez.

    Comment by Christine — August 11, 2010 @ 5:07 pm

  4. One thing my father did when he took over central supply at university hospital is order a bunch of size-friendly equipment. He’s 5’7, weighs 160 himself…it wasn’t personal, it just appalled him that the right beds and stuff weren’t available.

    Comment by GoP — August 11, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  5. I think the right thing to do is forward the text of this blog entry directly to your doctor’s office and the nurses who work with everyone in the infusion rooms.

    Ask for the responses to your questions. Truthful ones, no lies, no fat shame on either side (although shame at being caught in the guilt of not having appropriate equipment for patients of every nature, and shame at being caught out in a lie are both appropriate shames).

    I’d love to know how they respond. I love knowing they’ll probably meet about the “problem” even more.

    Comment by ChaChaheels — August 11, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

  6. I agree with ChaChaHeels. I think you should forward this post to your doctor’s office, the hospital board, and perhaps even the manufacturer of the chair.

    I don’t particularly have fat shame at my doctors’ offices, because, hey, I was over 200 pounds when I started going to them and they’re okay with it. (Well, okay in the sense they’re not always telling me to lose weight.) I am annoyed, however, when a new medical assistant gives me a sized L gown. Like, c’mon, obviously it is too small.

    Comment by BrooklynShoeBabe — August 11, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

  7. Seriously, the infusion chairs are not the place a medical office that does infusions regularly should cheap out. I required a series of infusions a few years ago at a point when my weight was well over 250 and the chairs were never an issue. They didn’t seem like particularly massive infusion chairs, either, but maybe I just got lucky.

    Comment by marymac — August 11, 2010 @ 6:46 pm

  8. Like marymac, I’ve done the infusion thing at well over 250 pounds, and nobody ever brought it up. So size-friendly equipment obviously does exist out there for the facilities that want it.

    “You’re too fat to fit” shouldn’t be any different than “You’re too tall to fit,” but in a nation drenched in superstition and sanctimony about fat and fat people, it just is. And the lying nurse probably assumed that it would cause a problem and didn’t want to deal. (Though indeed, after three years, she might perhaps have caught on that this is not a problem our hostess has.)

    Also, as far as the conflict-avoidance thing, some people do have reality issues. I know at least one woman who is quite capable of berating a nurse or assistant over a perfectly appropriate, discreet, and sensible size-related observation and who has indeed done such things in the past. I can’t fathom taking an offer of more comfortable or safer accommodation as an insult, but there are absolutely people who do. (That’s not a defense of the nurse — I mean if it happens, it happens, and deal with it when it does.)

    Anyway, that problem is of course related to “fat” being such a loaded notion — something medical types are much to blame for.

    (I also have first and last names that some people will not get right. It is one of the reasons I insist, nicely, that medical people call me Ms. or Miss Lastname. They’re about 50 percent more likely to get the surname right than my two-syllable but apparently bewildering given name.)

    Comment by Mifty — August 11, 2010 @ 7:36 pm

  9. So, let me get this right. You see this nurse at least every 6 weeks and she consistantly gets your name wrong AND can’t find a vein to save her life?

    Ask for a different nurse to start the infusion. Preferably one with more experience in phlebotomy. No one should be a human pincushion.

    And start mispronouncing her name. Loudly, and often. See how long it takes her to get your name right next time. ;-)

    Comment by htownnole — August 11, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

  10. htownnole is right … time for a new nurse for you. Seriously- the infusion nurses are supposed to be among the nicest ones- you seem pretty sanguine about your delicate flower status, but what if you had something Really, Really Scary and Bad and she was pulling that shit?

    I fear you’re right that the issue probably boils down to some lawsuit. That said, a large chunk (so to speak) of the population of the Great State of Texas is sufficiently Great they they are topping in well over 250. And some big lawyerly person sure won’t be comfy in an office chair 3x week doing chemo, and he or she may well raise this issue in yet another suit.

    So, the hospital is likely to be caught between dueling lawsuits, until they shell out for new chairs. Sad.

    Comment by pelican — August 12, 2010 @ 10:39 am

  11. First of all, I’m so sorry you were treated so badly. And I’m really proud of you for handling it so well at the time AND blasting them so eloquently here.

    It’s awful that we have to manage everybody else in situations where we should ya know, GET TO BE THE PATIENT.

    I agree that contacting the facility management is a fine idea, not to complain about the nurse as much tell them about their shoddy equipment. And I know we all have constraints of insurance etc, but is it possible to shop around for a better facility to provide you with the aforementioned unicorn tears?

    Thank you for sharing your story. Way too many medical professionals, media, parents etc. feel perfectly justified in insinuating that all our medical issues are our fault and we should ‘just lose weight’ whether or not it’s relevent to the issue at hand. The same people are only to happy to coddle the 50-year-old distance runner who has to get a knee replacement because he refuses to change his ways and act his age – because somehow their behavior is considered admirable…..but I digress…

    Comment by Thea — August 12, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  12. Unless that infusion was a matter of life or death, I would have stormed out – with strum and drang of the highest degree. If you’re paying as much as everyone else, you deserve the same level of service. Service providers need to accomodate to customers no matter the size, shape, sexual preference etc. Otherwise have a sign out that specifies to whom service is not provided to. You should give em hell and then some.

    Comment by Retna — August 12, 2010 @ 11:20 am

  13. I insist, nicely, that medical people call me Ms. or Miss Lastname.

    I hope that you also insist because it is the polite way to address someone. If the doc is “Dr X” to me, then I am “Ms Y” to her and to everyone else in the office. Especially the 20-yr-old receptionist who doesn’t even look up from her paperwork to shout my name.

    Comment by The gold digger — August 12, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  14. Hmm. This is sort of like the differently-sized blood pressure cuffs we have in our office; larger arms require a larger cuff… for a proper reading. There is a legitimate reason that a special item is required for some folks, and we have no problem relaying that to them. But then again, we do see many overweight and/or fat people who have various medical issues leading to and resulting from their weight, so if they’re coming here for coddling, they’re coming to the wrong place (the doctors will and do tell people they MUST lose weight, but in their cases, it would actually really help their health drastically… especially the patients with blood pressure so high that it’s causing their kidneys to shut down…).

    But I digress.

    Did you call her out on her obvious lie? Did you ask the doctor? Do you weigh more now than you did on your last visit? I’m rather suspicious of why they would do this…

    Comment by Katsu — August 12, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  15. @ Katsu Your first paragraph says it all. You see, what you probably see as “coddling” I call “being treated with the respect I freaking deserve no matter what my health status is because I am a human being.” You are not a judge and jury; you’re a health professional. You can lay whatever veneer you want on top of it: the paragraph just drips with what medical people seem to think is a professional free pass to bully and shame people in the name of “treatment” rather than go to the *work* of learning to partner with people as they are–flawed, complicated, coming from different support systems and environments–in working towards health–needing support probably as much or not more than they need some stranger with a clipboard acting like the “new sheriff in town” and confronting them with the hard reality they need the obese cup.

    It’s one thing to matter of factly say “These problems are related to weight; let’s think about treatment for the weight so that we can start dealing with these issues .” It’s another to treat somebody you’ve just met like a piece of meat who somehow “needs” to feel yet more shame about something they feel shame about every tme they step outside.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a teacher over the years; tough love can be a great strategy and it also can be dangerous and you don’t do any of it until you have earned trust and made it clear you’re on somebody’s team.

    Comment by Lisa from SoCal — August 12, 2010 @ 2:40 pm

  16. Plumcake, that nurse’s story and her tratment of you has been bugging me. I happen to be sitting around recovering from some back-related unpleasantness so I have too much time and too much internet on my hands.

    Here is a link to a sample of online infusion chair sales:

    Notice how the cheapest one has a weight limit of 290?

    It especially bothers me that it took months for this nurse to make this an issue.

    I don’t have a good conspiracy theory here or anything, but I am firmly with the commenters who think you need to say something to your prescribing physician or the supervising nurse about this incident.

    Comment by Deb — August 12, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

  17. @Lisa from SoCal’s response to Katsu

    Standing ovation. I started to respond but couldn’t say what I wanted to convey, and you said it so well.

    “If they’ve come here for coddling, they’ve come to the wrong place” is somewhere between judgmental and plain hostile. I sincerely hope that no one I care about ever comes in contact with a medical professional with that as any part of his or her attitude.

    Comment by Mifty — August 12, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  18. I work for an office furniture dealership and had a quick conversation with one of our super-experienced sales people (25+ years.) Your average medical seating will handle 250-260 lbs with ease. Of course….so will your average office chair. Which means Nurse McStabby should let you sit wherever the hell you damn well please because it’s all the same and you should be comfortable when getting your unicorn tear infusions.

    Comment by LL — August 12, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

  19. Katsu

    Yes, there is a legitimate reason for a larger blood pressure cuff and the need to weigh a patient – so that you can get accurate information necessary to diagnose appropriately. Ditto the need for appropriate medical equipment to service all patients appropriately.

    And just as there are medical issues leading to and resulting from weigh gain, there are also many medical issues leading to and resulting in weight gain.

    All patients deserve to be treated with dignity and without judgement. There is a huge difference between working with a patient to give them honest information about their health and how to improve it, and judging them.

    Judging is not providing medical treatment and it’s not a part of a medical professional’s job description.

    Comment by Thea — August 13, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  20. Can I share something with you all? It’s not related to this post, but it hit me like a ton of bricks today and I wanted someone to tell it to who would understand.

    I have a distinct memory from when I was 14 (nearly 20 years ago) when my mother was doing the laundry, and my married sister was there (she was 20 at the time). I don’t remember he exact words, but my mother was shocked at the size of the bras she was washing. And my very slender and fit sister who has always been the most beautiful girl in our family, says “Well don’t look at ME. I’m nursing a baby.” And I don’t think I said anything to either of them, I just thought, “I’m a freak and I’m a fat-ass.” I just sort of assumed it must be true. I didn’t even question it. I take it my sister viewed my mother’s comments as an accusation, too, or she wouldn’t have felt the need to defend herself. I doubt either of them even considered how their comments would affect me:that it was OK for my sister to have large breasts because she just had a baby but what the hell is wrong with you, Cambiata?

    I know little nothings like this were never intended as the accusation I took them for, but because I thought I was already fat (I wasn’t), I destroyed my body with bad eating, thinking “It doesn’t matter now, it’s too late for me to be beautiful.” I just wish that my sisters and mother had treated my breast size as a lovely feature instead of an abnormal growth. I guess they didn’t realize that for an awkward teen these things need to be said. I hope that I’ve never made my gorgeous 5’11” niece feel like she’s a freak because of her height. The next time I see her I’m going to compare her to a supermodel.

    Comment by Cambiata — August 14, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  21. This is just weird. Did she suddenly look at your chart and realize you were 250lbs? I find it hard to believe you’re the only big person who ever comes in there. There should be proper accommodations. I guess she could have made a scene about it to make a point so that is one good thing but I’d like to know about the sudden change of venue.

    Comment by Moe — August 14, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  22. Oooh, I’d be pissed. It’s one thing to sit in an office chair for 30 minutes or so, but what about people over 250 pounds who need infusions that take several hours (I’ve been in the Barcalounger of the Damned for up to six hours at a time)? Or require pre-meds that make them drowsy (IV Benadryl being a pretty common one)? Someone falling asleep and falling out of the office chair would be an excellent reason for a lawsuit.

    Comment by Elizabeth — August 15, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

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