Dec 10, 2022

Life in the Middle – Hormones, Hot Flashes, & “White Coats”

I had to find new weapons. The arsenal I thought would win the battle wasn’t working.

The Russian in Dubai wanted to operate — the fibroid was my problem.

The BHRT didn’t work — wasn’t feeling better.

Exercise didn’t work.

Diet didn’t help.

Medications for Thyroid, Hormones, Type 2, supplements — nothing was working.

But before I could identify the right weapons, I had to get a real diagnosis. I had to deal with the white coats.

Did you ever just know when something was wrong with your body — but you either couldn’t articulate it in a way that it was received OR it felt like people weren’t listening?

I’ve been there. I was there for 3 years and a bit. I was there until about 27 days ago.

For a very long time, I didn’t completely educate myself about my body, hormones, stress, cortisol, adrenals — not completely. Sure, I had my information folder and spreadsheets but I hadn’t really invested time in learning how the systems really speak to each other.

I just assumed that people in white coats (doctors, therapists, etc.) would hear me say, “I’ve gained 20, 25, 35, 45, 50 pounds, I can’t sleep, I’ve got a fibroid, Peri is lurking, exercise isn’t doing ANYTHING”, and the white coats would tell me, “Aha! We have the answer.”


So I went into a phase of introspection and I spent a lot of time thinking that I was crazy. Was I was turning into a hypochondriac? I actually found myself believing some of the white coats. I mean, maybe it was all in my head, right? These superior beings couldn’t come up with an effective diagnosis, much less treatment, and so — it was me. I went back to therapy. The “crazy” was the only thing that made sense because I kept hearing how “normal” my results were — time after time.

I admit that my, “maybe I’m crazy”, phase lasted longer than it should have — I gave it way too much time, attention and power. When I regained my senses, took back my power, and my sense of my SELF, I went into overdrive, research, crazy producer mode.

I doubled down on information and started going to new doctors thinking that perhaps I had armed myself with a new language. I could now speak in a way that they would finally be able to hear me.

It didn’t work.

I entered an entirely new phase where, no matter how educated I was, despite the spreadsheets and folders, I wasn’t heard. I have learned throughout this journey, and continue to learn even today, that when a person reaches a state of “morbid obesity” (and yes, I am morbidly obese despite what all of my besties want to believe, God love them), the white coats stop listening and start to judge.

When I tell the white coats, “I have a trainer and I am at the gym 5 days a week for 2 hours a day but I cannot lose a single pound”, they don’t hear me. Instead, they hear, “I walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes a day and I can’t lose any weight”. They hear an obese person and they conclude that I am the problem. If only I just stopped eating so much and started exercising. When I say, “I have a cook. I make fresh vegetable juice every week. I eat vegan. I don’t buy any bread, crackers, etc.”, they hear, “I eat a lot of food but most of it is probably pretty healthy, I think, except when I eat a lot of junk food”. Their in ability to see me AND hear me is the only explanation I have for the white coats and their insistence that, “if you just exercise more and eat less, you’ll be fine”.

I was eating less and moving more. I was becoming obsessed with every thing that went on my plate. I drink 3 litres of water every single day. I was drinking vegetables. I was at the gym. I had a trainer. I was doing the work. I took hormones. I took thyroxine. I took more supplements than my pill organizer could manage. IT WASN’T WORKING.

So I wasn’t heard. I was seen. No, that’s not right. I was seen — as a fat person. I don’t necessarily like the idea of using the word “fat” — but I’ve also considered that the use of that word here manifests (my avid readers) a primal response — a true sense of how degrading, demoralizing and crushing it was, and still is, to watch my body slowly evolve into an physical entity I no longer recognize. To be laughed at on the bus. To be teased in certain countries and cultures where fat is shameful. To stand in a dressing room knowing that the XL and XXL might not fit. To eat alone in hotels and feel stares if I dare to order dessert. To have to ask for a seat belt extender on flights. I feel trapped in a body I do not identify with in a world that does not see me or hear me.

I had no appreciation or understanding, until the last few years, how horribly biased and uneducated white coats, and others (a lot of others), are when they deal with an obese person.

I have been lectured about Type 2 Diabetes during every consultation despite the fact that all of my results do not reflect Type 2 (thankfully). I have learned that endocrinologists do not really understand sex hormones. They understand diabetes. They say they understand thyroid — but really, they do not. I can say that because I’ve invested thousands of dollars and years with various endocrinologists all over the world including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Dubai, Mumbai, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Manila, and Singapore. (I get around.) And not one of those endocrinologists — some reputed to be the best in the world-has ever successfully explained to me what is happening with my body. They see obese Rebecca, panic about Type 2, and prescribe Metaformin like it’s candy. (Metaformin, by the way, caused horrible heartburn and I could only take the extended release version once a day. I threw it all away after 6 months when my labs continued to show no Type 2.)

So where do you go when the white coats fail? When the “specialists” stop seeing you and they stop hearing you?

Holistic medicine. Of course.

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