This One’s For the Pros

I read heartbreaking stories all the time about people who are treated terribly by people of influence in their lives – everyone from family members to spouses to doctors. I don’t know why, but I have been blessed in my life to have a lot of allies, and today I’d like to give a shout out to some of them. (Friends and family, a huge thank you to all y’all for your support, but this one’s for the pros.)

First, to my primary care physician. Her name is Dr. Barrett, and while she probably wouldn’t describe herself this way, she practices Health at Every Size. Since we first met in 2003, she has been supportive, understanding, and proactive. I never feel rushed when I visit her, and I always feel like she is listening to me. She has never fat shamed me; in fact, she has told me on more than one occasion that I am one of her healthiest patients. I wish that everyone could have a physician like Dr. Barrett. I know so many people (and read about many more) who don’t go to the doctor for fear of how they will be treated because of the size of their bodies. And here I thought the first rule of Doctor Club was “do no harm.” Be more like Dr. Barrett, medical pros!

Not Dr. Barrett's office, but an office I photographed, so close enough.
Not Dr. Barrett’s office, but an office I photographed, so close enough.

Second, to the physical therapists who have helped me throughout my marathoning career. From a busted up knee (twice!) to a suspected foot stress fracture (lies!), to a severely sprained ankle, to a bunch of leg pain and muscle knots from all of the above, you could definitely say that distance walking has not been kind to me. But my PTs (including Karen at Lattimore Rush-Henrietta) sure have been. I was so super nervous to walk into Pittsford Performance Care, because it says right on their website that they treat athletes, and the place was full of thin, attractive men (both the staff and the patients!). I am an athlete too, but I often feel like other people don’t want to – or refuse to? – believe it. But I walked into PPC with my head held high, told my story, and… was treated with tremendous respect and given excellent (if super painful!) care by Dr. Mike and his cohorts. I never felt like I wasn’t welcome there, or that my needs weren’t just as important to the docs as the needs of any of the more typical-bodied athletes. I tried to express my gratitude to Dr. Mike and the others about this, but I’m not sure if I got my point across through the tears. That’s how glad I was to just be treated like any other athlete.

Post PT ankles, taped by Dr. Mike.
Post PT ankles, taped by Dr. Mike.

Finally, I want to thank my main aqua fit instructor, Keshia. I’ve been participating in water aerobics classes for well over a year and a half now, and I love it. I love the camaraderie I’ve developed with my fellow classmates, and I love the challenge of the class. I get the impression that a lot of people think aqua fit is not hard. Those people are wrong. Aqua fit’s no joke! Like any workout, you get out of it what you put into it, but with Keshia, we took things to the next level. My abs will never be the same, and I mean that in the best way. Keshia is leaving my gym, headed on to bold and beautiful new adventures, and I’m going to miss her like crazy. Her leaving is actually what inspired me to write this post. I can’t thank her enough for her dedication to my fitness, the way she constantly challenged me, and how she never made me feel like anything less than what I am: A fit woman (who just happens to be fat).

Outside my gym, hair wet from the pool.
Outside my gym, hair wet from the pool.

Somehow, I’ve been super lucky in that I’ve been able to surround myself with this amazing group of professionals who support, encourage, care for, and challenge me. My wish is that everyone – no matter their size, shape, or health – would receive the same from the pros in their lives.