This past Saturday I spent the night at a local hospital’s sleep center for a study because it’s been a long time since I’ve had a good night’s rest. My doctor wanted to know whether I have sleep apnea, a disorder in which one’s breathing stops or becomes shallow while asleep. That’s where I met a concern troll disguised as a sleep technician… let’s call him A.
As I waited for the other technician, H, to get me set up for the study, A came into the room to explain the procedure and felt it necessary to also mention several other things. Part of the conversation went something like this:
A: So you know there’s different types of masks for the machine. If you don’t like one, you can try another.
Me: Who’s saying I need the machine? Isn’t that what the study’s for?
A: I’ve seen guys, 5’2″, 250 pounds (my height and approximate weight) with the thick necks and they can’t breathe so they need the machine. Sometimes they do the study because they’re getting weight loss surgery. Your doctor should get you into the weight management program here at the hospital. It’s good.
Me: I don’t want to discuss weight loss or surgery. That’s not what I’m here for.
A: You mean your doctor never said you should get the lap-band?
Me: No, because we agree that a lot of weight loss surgery patients have complications or regain the weight. Now can we NOT have this conversation?
A: Oh, but that’s because the surgery makes their stomachs the size of a little pouch and they freak out because they can’t eat as much as they want.
Me: Once again, can we not have this conversation?
A: But you’ll sleep so much better after you lose….
Me: DUDE! Can you PLEASE change the subject? I am not discussing this with you.
Fortunately for A, H arrived and wound up being the one to observe me through the night. I don’t have the results yet but H did inform me that my breathing didn’t stop at all. I did a lot of kicking, tossing, turning and snoring. So much for A’s analysis. I left the center thinking about how triggering and devastating that conversation could have been for someone who’s not as comfortable with their body or outspoken.
So this morning I called the center and spoke to S, the director, about A’s and my conversation. Before I could explain how inappropriate it was, she apologized and said it was not his place to discuss anything with me other than the sleep study procedure and answer any questions I might have had. She assured me that she’d speak to A and asked if there was anything she could do to make it up to me. I told her that her time, understanding and talk with A were more than enough.
It’s so important to be our own advocates and speak up when situations like this happen. We shouldn’t tolerate less than adequate care or treatment and medical personnel need to stop making assumptions about our health simply based on the size of our bodies. It’s not their job to be concern trolls. Sadly, there’s already too many of those.