Misconceptions About Weight and IBD
I have written about how I feel disordered eating is not something that is talked about in the IBD community often enough. I wanted to expand a little on that and delve into the weight aspect of life as a patient suffering from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Comments on my weight with UC
A couple days after being discharged from my most recent surgery, I had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully, the doctor was sympathetic and did say what a terrible illness inflammatory bowel disease was. However, she also included things about my weight and told me that if someone comes in and says they have a form of IBD and are not on the thin side, she generally doesn’t believe them.
There is much more concern about UC when I am really thin
I was in far too bad a state to argue with her at that point but it has stuck with me because this physician kind of said what I have been thinking and experiencing for years: I am taken way more seriously when I am thinner. I once went into my internist’s office at 110lbs a couple years ago (I am a little over 5’3) and since I was 90lbs the year before, he didn’t believe anything could possibly be wrong with me since I gained so much weight.
Yes, it was a good thing I was no longer 90lbs but to completely act like there couldn’t be ANYTHING going on based on my weight alone was asinine in my opinion. This is seriously just one example of a million where I wasn’t taken seriously because I didn’t look like a skeleton.
Judgement of an invisible illness
It is hard enough for inflammatory bowel disease patients to have to worry about being believed given it is an invisible illness, but to be judged on how things are based on weight is absurd to me. Or, rather, it is an uneducated way of looking at things and the world.
What if someone was or had been on prednisone or another steroid? What if the disease is too bad for someone to exercise? What if that person also has another condition that requires weight gaining medication? What if someone can only tolerate carbohydrates because things are so awful inside? What if someone has been eating their emotions and that is the reason for not being a stick?
There are so many reasons why weight changes for people with UC or Crohn's
Point is, there are so many reasons why a person with inflammatory bowel disease might not necessarily look like they are starving with skin hanging off their bones. The fact that we are so often judged by this just makes things harder for patients. This also extends to the public, family and friends as opposed to solely physicians. It is heartbreaking to have to prove to others that you are suffering and need help.
I know I am taken more seriously when I am thinner which messes up my psyche even more when it comes to food and my body image. Does anyone else come across this? How do you handle it? Any tips on how to get doctors/people in your life to understand that weight doesn’t necessarily matter when you are talking about many chronic illnesses, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis?
What type of IBD have you been diagnosed with?