I’m no expert on cars but I’m definitely an expert at having a body and there are some questions that are pretty powerful that can put you in the driver’s seat in these interactions!
I’ve learned by studying communication skills that the person asking the questions in a conversation is the person in control in the conversation. In dealing with intimidating conversations it is so helpful to know what questions to ask.
I hated dealing with the mechanic so much that in the division of labor during my last partnership, I asked her to be responsible for doing all the car things–taking it for oil changes and to the mechanic.
It’s not like she had any mechanical expertise (and it’s not like she took on the responsibility without whinging). But I think she saw that I didn’t want to deal with femmephobia at the mechanic and she could step up to that task with more leverage because of her masculine presentation and people skills. (I’m proud of how much work I’ve put into developing my communication and leadership skills and healing my social anxiety!)
First thing I do before a situation like the doctor, the mechanic or air travel is to pray that everyone seen and unseen is working behind the scenes on my behalf. These can be stressful situations full of bad news and might as well enlist the help that (I believe) is as close as your breath. You don’t have to have a faith for it to work, and as with all of my advice here take what you like, and leave the rest!
I started the prayer before the doctor when I went to my first Kaiser primary care appointment with a new doctor in 2016. I ended up with a really body positive PCP who asked MY advice about how to connect with her other fat patients and encourage them to make choices that support their well-being.
After decades of shitty doctor experiences (especially as a young adult) I actually haven’t dealt with fatphobia in a medical environment since 2016. (Knock on wood!)
At the mechanic, when they give you the run down of what needs to be fixed on your car ask them to show you physically. I only just learned this tip yesterday from Rachael’s spouse J who rolled into my DMs on Instagram dot com after seeing my story post about the $1,000 estimate to repair the rust on the wheels of my car that are causing tire leaks.
“Can you show me the rust? Can you show me the _____?” I am not saying this will totally work or you’ll fully understand it. I’m just saying whenever the Jiffy Lube folks bring my air filters to the counter to show me what a dust storm is living in there it makes me feel more like taking action than simply the “idea” of what might be in the air filters. It’s also a good idea to take pics of what’s going on so you can get second opinions!
“Can you help me make this a list of priorities?” As a self-funded self-employed artist for many years, I’ve not yet experienced being ready with cash or credit available to do what needs to be done all at once for car repairs or dentistry.
In Los Angeles in 2019 after my gay divorce and before I moved up to the North Pole the laundry list of what my car needed was heartbreaking. I asked this priority question based on what’s likely to cause my car to break down, what can I live with putting off.
I was grateful for the awareness of what my car needed because it helped me decide to stop driving my car out of town and rent cars for traveling to gigs.
It’s SO MUCH CHEAPER to not break down on the side of a highway and miss work. A stitch in time really does save nine.
Okay, for the doctor, a life changing question for anyone who has dealt with fat bias in the doctors office is:
“If a thin person had this [ailment/diagnosis] what would be the treatment protocol you suggest?” Fatphobia is rampant in the medical industrial complex because it’s a multi billion dollar industry to treat fatness as a pathology.
There are lots of reasons folks have adipose tissue, including benign genetic diversity. Fat is not unhealthy it is adipose tissue. Lots of fat folks are robustly healthy; lots of thin folks are unhealthy. Unlearn your bias so you can live a happier life no matter what your size.
You deserve medical care from folks who are willing to see you as an individual. Fat thought leader/speaker/activist/funny human being Ragen Chastain has an incredible blog post about what to say at the doctor’s office and she says wisely that she likes to treat doctor’s visits as a dialog about health.
I just read the same thing about death and dying in my death and dying book! Your doctor is just a teammate in determining your care you need to be in dialog with them.
“I started getting much better care when I decided that my healthcare was going to be a dialog between my healthcare providers and me, rather than thinking that I had no right to ask questions, challenge advice, or request that I be treated based on my values.”–Ragen Chastain (she is my guest on Episode 81 of my podcast)
In our society we give a lot of undeserved “status*” to people based on their jobs. (As a former attorney allow me to assure you there are plenty of idiots and bigots that can pass exams in all fields, including law and medicine. They don’t deserve your money.)
Don’t treat anyone you hire as a God, they are just a human and they go home, eat ramen over the sink, clean the cat litter box and have IBS accidents in their pants like everyone else. The people you hire should have your best interest at heart and if they don’t fire them and move on to someone else.
I also like this question “Will you write in my chart that you refused to address [insert your concern].”
Okay, I really want you to go read Ragen’s post and stand up for yourself! I love you!
*I like the acronym “Still Too Arrogant To Understand Success.” Humility is a quality you want to look for in any leader you follow or teammate in caring for your car or your body!
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