I have a rash in the fold between my stomach and my lower stomach. Okay, that may not be accurate. Maybe it is between my lower stomach and the top of my foof – what I call the little puffy pouch of skin protecting my labia. I’m not supposed to be talking about this. Instead, we, fat women, women in general, are to talk about perfume scents and how to correctly use baby powder as a wetness deterrent. Or more delicate feminine wipes as “odor control.”
It is not one of those rashes where you go in to see the medical resident serving as this month’s primary care provider and swiftly show off your enflamed skin to sounds of “ooh” and “aah,” followed by directions for soothing on cool cream and going about your day.
This is the rash of shame, “THE FAT RASH.” The, “How long have you had this problem?” with an accusing stare toward your fat roll. Or worse yet, the, “Well, let’s see what we can do” sigh of pity. This is the rash that will not be treated with itch-cream-compassion. It is the rash that seems to demand on the psuedo physicians part “the talk.” It goes like this:
I lay back on the papered vinyl exam table with a loud squish. I raise my stomach fold and the resident says, “you seem to have a rash here.”
I respond, “yes, it seems I do.”
And then the resident is off to the races:
“Well, you know this is happening because your skin is hanging over here and the friction is causing sweat to pool. In fact, bacteria can breed here and this could get really bad. Have you ever tried anything to lose weight? You know, you are clinically obese. This rash, though not pleasant, is the least of your problems. Are you aware that you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, a cardiac ‘event’ or worse?
“Worse than this?”
And then I burst, “Do you think I woke up yesterday a size nine, walked down the hall, and poof, my ass exploded to a size twenty-six? Of course I am aware of the risks of obesity, you asshole (I just thought the asshole part). Of course I have been lectured, ridiculed, scolded about my weight. I have been sent to nutritionists, counselors, hell, even told about gastric bypass. Do you watch TV? Because I do. I am told about my size being bad, wrong, sick, dangerous ALL THE TIME.”
He is quiet for a minute as I fight tears of frustration. He sighs and says, “Well, uh, do you listen?”
“Listen? I have listened until I am going to scream. You listen for just a fucking minute (said that one). You are supposed to be my doctor – at least this month. Did you review my charts?”
“You don’t need to use that language. I can pull up your records here.” He turns to the computer.
“Too late,” I fume. You should have done that before you came in ready to lecture. My thyroid test is normal. My blood sugar is perfect. My cholesterol is 128, my heart is pumping like a pro. I am here because of a specific problem. MY SKIN ITCHES AND I NEED THE CREAM YOU HAVE THE POWER TO PRESCRIBE! Just write the script and talk about my sad denial of my weight with your supervisor.”
“I am only trying to help you – while your tests may be normal now, that is not an indicator of the future. This rash is a warning sign. Your body is not supposed to be this size. Why are you so angry?”
“Did you hear anything I said? I think you did. I think you can’t stand for me to be fine with my stretched skin, my hanging breasts, my round ass. The thought that I may actually be fat and HEALTHY is beyond you. I am here for a rash that triathletes get, that pregnant women get, that men get, that is common – skin friction sometimes causes a rash. Yes, I have it because I am fat, but that does not mean that in order to get the medicine I need to treat it I have to be subjected to the fat is bad, get off your ass and fast diatribe. Just give me the cream.”