Today's Weight 173.0lbs
I dislike myself intensely today - I’m ashamed and disgusted at myself for being such a yellow-bellied coward.
I work in the finance department of an NHS hospital, and this morning I had a meeting with the Director of Finance and the Director of Patient Services. We were discussing the alert status of the hospital (we were on black alert, which means that things were very very dire with not a single bed available in the hospital and folks queuing in A&E for a place to lie down), and the conversation turned to demand management as the way to solve the capacity problem in the longer term.
The conversation went something like this:
Director of Finance (DoF): One way to reduce demand would be to refuse to treat patients who smoke or who are grossly fat. It’s not fair that they block beds from more deserving patients when they’ve bought their condition on themselves.
Director of Pat Svs (DoPS): Hmm, that’s a tricky one, because where do you draw the line?
DoF: Well, smokers should have to agree to quit before we commence treatment, and no-one with a BMI over 30 should be treated unless they’re classified as an emergency. Elective surgery just shouldn’t be an option.
DoPS: Isn’t drawing the line at 30 a bit extreme?
DoF: Not at all! You can’t argue with the facts, and it’s a fact that a BMI over 30 makes you obese. As a surgeon would you want to wade through someone’s wobbly fat before you could even see their internal organs? Ugh, it’s disgusting.
DoPS: But 30’s not exactly gargantuan, is it?
DoF: (with a shudder) It’s big enough. I see them waddling round the corridors, wheezing and puffing and hauling themselves along to the orthopaedic department on sticks. It’s not sticks they need, it’s their jaws wired shut. That’d solve their joint problems AND our bed capacity problems, wouldn’t it?
The DoF carried on in this vein for some time, to the increasing discomfiture of both myself and the DoPS (himself not exactly snake hipped and lean). Her choice of words became more and more colourful, and she crossed the line from outlining a valid (if extreme) argument, into being gratuitously rude towards the obese.
She included words such as gross, wobbly and disgusting in her comments towards fat people, and generally belittled and derided them, without batting an eyelid or seeming to have any conception that her comments could be offensive.
I wanted so badly to say something, but I just sat there and tried not to look as if I was taking her comments personally, and I didn’t say a single bloody word.
What a fucking coward I am.
Partly I kept my mouth shut because I felt humiliated, and partly because she’s my boss and she has a filthy temper, and partly because I didn’t want to sound like some prim and proper missy who took offence at the drop of a hat.
But hell, I WAS bloody offended!
I remembered her telling me when I joined the Trust that I would be held responsible for ensuring that my staff respected the Trust’s Equality and Diversity policy, and that I mustn’t let them get away with any off-colour jokes or comments that could be construed as racist, homophobic, sexist etc.
But it seems to be open season on fat people.
Presumably she wouldn’t have dreamed of making racist comments in front of a person of colour, or homophobic comments in front of a gay person, but (not for the first time) she openly insulted fat people in front of one of them (me).
I phoned K to let off steam, and he told me I should see her obtuseness towards my feelings as some sort of backhanded compliment, as it suggests that she doesn’t consider me to be one of the much-maligned obese brigade. Hmm, that’s small consolation. She voiced the same views when I had a BMI of 43, and it didn’t seem to make her pause or think that I might find her attitude and comments insensitive and rude.
I know I should have said something, and I wish I could turn back the clock and act with a bit more backbone.
I am utterly ashamed and disgusted with myself. Having missed the opportunity to say something at the time, I can’t decide now whether I’ve left it too late, or whether I should bite the bullet and raise the issue with her again.
Any advice, anyone?