Why being fat is no fun in hospital

Right. I know I’m treading on thin ice here, and I’m about to sound fattist, but bear with me…

We all know the dangers of being overweight – it’s linked with heart attacks, increased risk of many types of cancer, osteoarthritis, breathing problems, liver problems and a gazillion other things. But that’s not why it’s a nightmare to be fat in hospital.

Being fat means a number of horrific things happen to you in hospital:

Number 1) no one can move you

If your bmi is of the obese variety then you’re stuck. Literally. They’ll need to get a hoist to get you out of your chair. So if you need a poo, a wee, or need to move because you’re developing pressure sores then you’re going to have to wait. You’ll have to wait until there’s a hoist, and two people to operate it. And if you’ve ever been on a ward you’ll know how rushed off their feet everyone is. So you can look forward to sitting in your own faeces. Lovely.

Number 2) we can’t out what’s wrong with you.

if you’re fat we can’t examine you properly. Trying to listen to bowel sounds of heart sounds or quiet breathing through a layer of blubber is so much more difficult. Trying to palpate an abdomen becomes almost impossible. So we’ll miss stuff- because we simply can’t feel or hear the warning signals.

Investigations also become infinitely harder. Trying to find a vein when you can’t even find a elbow crease is nigh on impossible. So you dig around for hours, desperately looking for the red flash that shows you’ve found some blood that we can send off for analysis. And then we stick another needle in you, and another, and another.

And it’s not just taking blood that’s harder. Often fat people won’t fit in our normal scanners so in London we’d have to send our big patients off to London zoo for an MRI. Imagine how that must feel for someone. Horrific.

3) we can’t cure you

Lots of problems in hospitals need surgery. Trying to operate on the obese makes things infinitely more difficult. Cutting through layers of fat takes time, and leads to more bleeding and possibility for error. No surgeon likes operating on fat people, except the ones doing gastric banding.

I know how hard it is to lose weight. I know lots of people with weight problems and I love them dearly, but I worry about what would happen if they come into hospital and I worry about them suffering because of their weight.

So I beg of you, if you’ve got a BMi over 25, and you’ve put on a bit of a weight, please think twice before buttering your bread and sugaring your tea. If you’ve got the choice of walking to the shops or getting in the car, put on your trainers and shift your booty.

Join weight watchers, cut out the crisps and chocolate, join a gym… Do whatever it takes. You honestly won’t regret it, and if you wind up in hozzie, you’ll be so glad you did.


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