When a Lake Heights woman heard a doctor describe her as ‘‘too fat’’ for a routine procedure, she wanted to curl up into a ball and hide away from the world.
At size 26, she has no trouble admitting she is ‘‘overweight’’, but to suffer humiliation at the hands of medical professionals was a confronting reminder of just how cruel society can be.
‘‘I just wanted out of there, I was in tears, I went home and I was physically sick, sick to the stomach for two days over the whole thing, I was devastated,’’ Bev Ashton said.
‘‘Normally I would brush it off, I get those kinds of comments all the time. People think that because you are fat you deserve it, but this would have to be the worst case I’ve had. To get it from the medical profession, I was just so shocked and distressed.
‘‘The next time I have a medical issue I will really honestly hesitate to seek medical attention. That’s the way I feel after that episode,’’ she said.
The mother of three girls has medical issues that make it difficult for her to lose weight but says none of that matters in a society obsessed with slim.
‘‘If I fell over and broke my arm, it would be because of my weight, that’s how people think.’’
Mrs Ashton has a regular doctor she visits but chose to see a female on September 10.
‘‘I had to go for a routine women’s test so I wanted a female,’’ Mrs Ashton said.
‘‘Every time you go to a new doctor they look at your size and say ‘if you lost weight I don’t think you would have this problem’.
‘‘There I was, lying there half naked, no cover over me for privacy and I hear the lady doctor standing a metre away from me telling her superior on the phone ‘I can’t do it, she’s too fat’.
‘‘I was lying there in tears, then the male doctor came in, did the procedure and was gone. It wasn’t my fault she couldn’t do it.
‘‘I went around to the service area, the lady in the front office gave me a box of tissues, I told her what had happened and said I needed to go home, I just wanted out of there.’’
Mrs Ashton’s husband Denis was irate. ‘‘For any woman of any size and shape being called fat is bad enough, let alone a female doctor who doesn’t know your medical history,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s devastating to her emotionally, spiritually and to her soul.’’
Mrs Ashton was initially happy to be photographed for this story, but had second thoughts, fearing her children would suffer.
‘‘Something has to be said but not at the cost of my kids and the crap others will put on them for having a fat mum. It will happen as it always does and it’s one of the main reasons I no longer take my kids to school. And it doesn’t just come from kids either.’’
A spokeswoman for the doctor’s surgery said the issue was ‘‘being investigated’’.
‘‘Due to patient privacy and confidentiality we are not able to discuss this matter with you and we will be contacting the patient direct to discuss her concerns,’’ the spokeswoman said.