Stereotyped – Deficiency

I love working for myself and the advantages certainly outweigh the disadvantages, but one of the cons is not having health insurance.

So, for months I’ve been suffering from a condition that became unbearable. The corners of my mouth were cracked and bleeding and my tongue! My tongue had a indescribable, painful burning sensation and it was covered with white icky stuff. I’ll stop there. I thought maybe I was allergic to some food item so I started experimenting with staying away from certain things, but no luck. I researched possible conditions online (the wrong thing to do) and was convinced that I was dying. Not only did I have this urgent condition, but since I turned 40 this summer I’m in need of a mammogram and an overall physical. Heavy sigh. What’s a girl to do?

I done some research and found a clinic that accepts a $40 copay and then works on a sliding fee. Score! I finally was going to get to the bottom of this burning, icky tongue and maybe get a physical too. By the time my appointment came around last Monday I could only concentrate on the tongue issue — I was in so much pain.

The visit:

The medical assistant completed the initial check-in: Weight (that scale has to be broke!), height (I shrunk I’m now only 5’2), temperature, blood pressure (a little high), and purpose of visit.

Moments later the doctor showed up. As the doctor looked over my chart she noticed my blood pressure was a little high. I assured her that wasn’t typical for me. She replied, “Oh, that’s pretty common for people around here.” I’m thinking, “Hmm… people around here.” Anyhow, I went on to tell her my symptoms. She examined my mouth, but of course the white icky stuff wasn’t visible. Don’t you hate when that happens? I figured that might happen so I had taken a photo one day when it was totally inflamed. She wasn’t able to discern much from the photo. But mentioned that folks with diabetes can get fungal infections so she would test me for diabetes. I’m thinking: “Oh yeah, of course I’m black and fat so I have high blood pressure and diabetes too. How stereotypical.” I kept my comment to myself, but I did joke with her and told her if I have diabetes I was going to be really ticked. I worked so hard to lose weight to improve my health and after all this hard work now I develop diabetes — no way!

Anyway, the good news — I’m not dying and I don’t have diabetes (I knew it couldn’t be possible!) but my blood work indicates I’m anemic. That explains the elevated blood pressure, tongue and mouth issue.  A normal Hemoglobin score is 12.0 – 16.0, I scored 7.5. The doctor was pretty concerned about such a low score and feels if the number doesn’t raise with the help of the iron pills she prescribed I may need a blood transfusion.  Yes, it’s that serious. Wow. I’m so glad I got to the bottom of it and it’s treatable.

Once I found out that I was anemic, I researched my condition and it all makes sense — I have most of the symptoms: Numbness or coldness in hands and feet, burning tongue, cracked corners of mouth, brittle nails, shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, fatigue (very common), weakness (very common), dizziness, and headaches. Come to find out lots of folks suffer from iron deficiencies about 3.5 million and it’s very common in women.

I’m sure the doctor meant no harm when she stereotyped me as having diabetes. I mean she sees lots of people who look like me (brown skinned and overweight) and they typically have diabetes. She wasn’t at all rude about it and she ordered the necessary tests, which revealed my iron deficiency. So really that’s all that matters.

For those who are without health insurance in the Clark County area and are in need of health care — check out, SeaMar Community Health Center they may be able to see you on a sliding fee scale.


Chrisetta Mosley

Chrisetta Mosley

I am a product – and now a survivor – of childhood obesity. As a child, my family always told me that my extra weight was merely baby fat and I’d eventually grow out of it. I never did. Instead, my childhood is filled with memories of not being able to ride a bike, flattening its training wheels from being over the recommended weight, and avoiding P.E. classes by any means necessary. For years, I wore my fatness like a wounded soldier wears a Purple Heart - with pride. I owned the look. I dressed it up. I worked the room. There wasn't a skinny girl who intimidated me. I made sure my hair was laid just right. Nails polished. Outfits coordinated to the tee. Accessories to compliment every outfit. But everyone has a breaking point, and mine came in the spring of 2004 when I tipped the scale at nearly 400 pounds 388 to be exact. I was MISERABLE trapped inside of that body. I no longer wore my Purple Heart with pride. Rather, I was ashamed and frightened. Ashamed that I had allowed food to become my everything – frightened I would die because of it. Drastic times called for drastic measures... Today, I’m bound and determined to live a better, healthier, active lifestyle. I realize I’m no longer a passenger in my life, I’m the driver. I’m overcoming my inhibitions and I’m slowly but surely saying farewell to my old childhood nemesis, obesity. For once and for all, Farewell Fatso!

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