The Hippocratic Oath

Yesterday I wrote about my disgust over a former White House doctor’s comments regarding NJ governor, Chris Christie’s weight and health. I wanted to give Governor Christie major credit for taking Ms. Mariano to task on this story. Christie said, ” that a doctor in Arizona w has never met me, never examined me, never reviewed my medical history or records, knows nothing about my family history , could make a diagnosis from 2,400 miles away is completely irresponsible. my children saw that last night. and she sat there on tv and said i’m afraid he’s going to die in office. my 12-year-old son comes up to me last night and says, “dad, are you going to die?”

Ms. Mariano replied, “it doesn’t take a physician to look at him to observe he’s overweight.”

Really? Gee, thanks for that enlightening tidbit, and also thank you for reaffirming my belief that the way you practice medicine is to diagnose based on looks. Well done, Ms. Mariano.

Mariano has also said she has no regrets over her comments, and that they were meant to be “constructive” Yeah, because fat people all over the world don’t already know that the majority of people – and doctors – see them as walking heart attacks.

I want to take a few minutes to look at the oath that doctors swear. It’s the Hippocratic Oath, and while there are many versions of it, both modern re-writes and multiple translations of the original, the take away is the same no matter which variant is spoken upon graduation from medical school. And nearly 100% of medical schools in the US have some form of this oath.

Let’s see how many different ways Ms. – oops, sorry – DOCTOR – Mariano broke her profession’s supposedly sacred oath, shall we? For the sake of this post, I’m using the modern translation found here.

“I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.”

Despite plenty of scientific research to support the claim that diets not only don’t work, but often result in increased body mass, Dr. Mariano still promotes weight loss. That doesn’t sound like “respect” of “scientific gains” to me.

“I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”

I don’t really think there’s any question whatsoever about Mariano’s lack of warmth, sympathy and understanding. She demonstrated that clearly in her original comments about a man she’s never even met, let alone treated, and she only solidified that when she didn’t even have the decency to apologize for upsetting Governor Christie’s children, who saw her ridiculous report on the news.

“Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death.”

Very cavalierly stating that you’re very worried that a man you’ve never met or treated (I cannot reiterate that point enough) will die in office pretty much breaks that oath. To do so publicly and in a forum that will garner worldwide attention only makes it even more disrespectful. I think we can say Dr. Mariano trampled all over this bit of the oath.

“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability.”

Well, maybe Ms. Mariano feels exempt from this, seeing as how she NEVER TREATED THE MAN… but since she decided to weigh in on the absurd situation, let’s consider the fact that she isn’t seeing Governor Christie like as a person. She doesn’t see the man, she only sees the fat. She showed no remorse or regret for the fact that she upset his family, and I doubt she gives a rat’s ass over the fact that her comments, as a former White House physician, have the potential to affect his future political career – and therefore his future economic stability.

“I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.”

So, instead of trying to “cure” one man of what you consider an illness, Dr. Mariano, why aren’t you doing legitimate research that results in the end of the so-called obesity epidemic? Right, because you’ve bought the party line on fat and health, and your narrow mind can’t think outside the paradigm you hide behind. Moving on.

“I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

While I’m sure you think that your snarky attitude and casual comments about a man’s life and death and career are helpful, let me assure you, they are not. As you so eloquently pointed out, it doesn’t take a physician to see that Governor Christie is overweight. The man has made plenty of references to his struggles with his weight, as well as jokes. So you can’t claim that he’s unaware of what you consider to be his problem, can you? Your little performance wasn’t about enlightenment. If you truly were concerned for him, you’d have reached out to him directly and privately, instead of taking your “normal” sized body on tv and spewing risks for his health without having ever met the man. I’m not sure what your agenda is, but I’m quite sure you have one, and Mr. Christie’s health is not even slightly at the forefront of it. The only obligation you seem to be paying mind to is that of your own career goals.

Dr. Connie Mariano is hardly the only doctor to break these supposedly sacred vows. Millions of doctors do it every time a fat patient walks into their office with a health issue and they tell said fat patient that the problem is their fault for being fat. Plenty of doctors get in front of cameras and make false claims, or throw out scary statistics that are skewed to this idea that being fat equals certain and imminent death. Doctors who perform barbaric surgeries on people who are not healthy enough – mentally or physically – to have said surgeries break this oath. Psychiatrists who approve those patients for surgery when they know full well the patient is not mentally prepared for the realities of life post-op break those oaths.

Dr. Mariano is simply the most recent and most public of medical professionals to open her mouth without thinking about the ramifications of what she is saying. Doctors like Ms. Mariano have no business practicing medicine. They are irresponsible, arrogant and presumptuous, not to mention bigoted and biased. We will never “solve” the so-called obesity epidemic as long as we continue to empower people like Dr. Mariano. Instead, we will see exactly what we’ve seen the last 20 years… a steady increase in weight gain despite all the so-called “lifestyle” changes or diets that people try. We’ll see the continued rise in bullying that happens when the media decides to seize on a perceived epidemic. We’ll see people waste their lives hating themselves, hating their bodies and living in shame over something that should be irrelevant.

How I look has nothing to do with the kind of medical care I deserve. It has nothing to do with whether or not I am qualified for a job. And it should have absolutely nothing to do with how happy I am in my life. I am lucky enough to have a husband and friends who love me for who I am, not how I look. Not everyone gets that opportunity, but part of that is that we need to empower ourselves. We need to realize we are worthy of love, of respect and of quality healthcare regardless of our size or looks. Only then can we find true happiness.

~Jessica

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