My doctor’s office STILL thinks I’m fat, and a troublemaker too


Well, it happened again. Unfortunately, I had to go back there. To the medical office that thinks I’m fat. In case you haven’t heard this story before, the skinny, er fatty is this: the new medical group I’ve been going to has decided that my BMI (ratio of height to weight) qualifies me as overweight, causing them to give me a weight-loss handout (aka fat handout) every time I leave their office.

Against my better judgement, I went back there for a follow-up visit, but this time, determined that I wasn’t going home with the fat handout again. My strategy: if I don’t step on the scale, they won’t record my weight, and won’t be able to give me the fat handout. I went in resolved to avoid the scale at all costs.

“Put down your things and step on the scale,” the medical assistant, whom I’ll call Ethel, says after calling me back into the office. “No, I don’t want to be weighed today,” I answered calmly. I was totally unprepared for the ensuing backlash. “You have to be weighed,” replied Ethel, her voice going up a few decibels. “Um, no I don’t and I don’t care to be weighed today,” I answered, pretty calmly I thought. “But you have to be weighed, it’s our policy,” Ethel replied, putting the same emphasis on the word policy as if she were saying mandate, decree, or law. “Well, no I don’t have to be weighed. I have the right to decline,” I answer back. I’m getting a little worried now about the backlash I’m getting, but I can’t back down now.

Ethel is positively sputtering now. Her voice has gone up well above inside voice level, and I’m a little surprised that she’s carrying on this way in what should be a professional setting. “Well, I’m going to have to get the manager,” she finally sputters back, several times, I might add. She’s positively frantic by now. Apparently, this hasn’t happened before.

The manager? Really? Let’s stop and look at this situation for a minute. The issue that has caused Ethel to go to red alert is that a patient has declined to be weighed. Does she get paid by how many people she weighs every day? Or does she get beaten or fired if she doesn’t weigh every patient? Now granted, there are a few groups who really should be weighed at their health care visits: children; anyone being seen for unexplained weight loss or illness; persons with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or kidney disease, pregnant women, and people who are ill. But I don’t fall into any of these groups. I was just there a few weeks earlier and was weighed then, so this really shouldn’t be an emergency now.

But, back to reality. Ethel is still sputtering about calling the manager and their policy. She’s positively shrieking now. I would expect the manager to be more upset about her unprofessional behavior than the cranky patient who declined to be weighed. So finally to stop the standoff,  I told her to ask the provider I was seeing, and if she insisted that I be weighed I would do it, but otherwise not. “Well, we’ll just see about that” Ethel answered as she shuttled me back to the exam room.

So back in the exam room, I talked to my provider and told the whole awful story. She’s good-natured and understanding, unlike the others in this office. “I’m just sick of getting the fat handout every time I come here,” I told her. “I’m really not overweight, it’s just that I’m too short. If you could make me a little taller, I’d stop getting the fat handout.  An inch should do it”

So, I finished up the visit and left, not sure if she was willing to go out on a limb to save me from the fat handout. Then, I looked at the papers they handed me at checkout. I know I was 5′ 2″ when I came into the office. But on the way out, I had turned into 5’7″.

© Huffygirl 2012

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38 thoughts on “My doctor’s office STILL thinks I’m fat, and a troublemaker too

    • Well, now you know what you have to go through to get there. First, someone has to call you fat. Next…

      BTW I was hoping she would only make me grow an inch. This was such a big change that I’m afraid someone will notice it and correct it.I don’t think I will like being this tall – suddenly all my pants are too short!

    • Thanks Lisa. You’re right it is time – it’s been time. I just have to get what I need from them and then I’ll be done and have my records transferred elsewhere. Trouble is with specialists there is not much choice.

  1. This is great! I love any stories about people who stand up to meaningless bureaucracy. (I’ve spelled this word 4 different ways, and they’re still giving me the underline signal.) Remind me to tell you about my clinic story.

    • That is exactly what it was. Interestingly, ever since I did that I’ve been wondering if I’m going to get a call from the office apologizing for Ethel’s rude behavior, or a letter dismissing me from the practice. Since they seem to do a lot of the office business unimpeded by the rational thought process, I’m somewhat expecting the latter.

      (BTW I fixed your bureaucracy spelling. If you right-click it gives you the choices.)

    • Exactly. Are they there to serve the patients or the policies? If one of my patients declined to be weighed, and no compelling reason why they needed to be weighed, it would be fine with me.

  2. I love this post!!!! And you certainly do not look fat to me. I have a friend that when she goes to the dr. she leaves her coat on, her shoes on, and holding her purse. She just tells them their scale is so far off it does not matter. I agree.

    I did read recently that the qualifications for being obese has changed. The article showed a lovely woman who looked quite normal. I would love to have her body. She is now rated at obese! That is just ridiculous.

    • Thanks Juliana. I do admit I could lose a few pounds, but not enough to warrant being beat over the head with the fat handout every single time I go there. As far as I know, the BMI qualifications have not changed, but this office is using 24 as the cut off point instead of 24.9 I think.

    • Right…I’m still not sure if I am in trouble for getting Ethel all worked up, or if she is in trouble for raising her voice to a patient and making such a scene.

  3. Ok….there are so many incredibly obese people in this country that I am starting to wonder if you doctor is on drugs. There is no way possible you are fat. I think I would change doctors and ask them to see a doctor themselves. We had so many issues in this country with healthy eating and body images. You look amazing and are probably in the 10%. Crazy stuff! I would find a new doctor!!!

    • Yes, I plan to change, but am in the middle of something with them right now, so I can’t. It’s really a story of the ancillary folks in the office operating like drones, generating the fat handout when a certain number pops up on the chart, rather than using common sense and actually looking at a person before giving out that handout. And they are all so militant about it, that it makes we wonder if someone higher up in the office is punishing them if they don’t do it. Big sigh.

  4. What a great doctor! It’s insane that some people can’t do anything other than the routine they’ve been asked to follow. They can’t make any decision on their own, even if it is as simple as allowing a patient not to get weighed. Dumb!

    • Exactly. It makes me wonder what the administration there is like if ancillary staff are unable to problem-solve and think for themselves. Perhaps very dictatorial, has been my impression so far. But, at least I’m taller now, so that’s a plus.

      • Well, I think that can be arranged Susan. After all, I did it. What surprised me the most is that the PA, rather than tell the office staff or the office manager to stop giving me the fat handout, thought it was easier/better to just make me taller.

  5. You will understand how funny this is. When we have health assessments at work, they tell me to my face that my BMI is too high and that I have too much body fat. I like to burst out laughing in their face and ask them if they are serious. What’s really funny is when they still don’t get how idiotic it is. These are not blind people and I’m standing right in front of them. They really think I’m hiding it somewhere.

    • Incredible JB. Since I’ve seen you myself, I can attest to how wrong they are. You have so little body fat that a strong wind would blow you away. I guess I don’t feel quite so bad now.

      Now in the meantime, take the fat handout home and start working on getting rid of some of your fat! 😉 Or, maybe we could just make you taller too. Then they might start telling you that you’re too thin.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • I think if the people who needed it had the common sense to take it, it would sell out in no time. We’ve got to get Dr. Oz to promote it: he seems to be the new Oprah!

  6. Sounds to me like Ethel has issues – what a bizarre sequence of events! What a weird conversation! She was downright rude, plus was trying to make you out to be the rude one by declining. I’m very rude so I should know 🙂 Outraged on your behalf…

    • Thanks for the outrage Cakes and shakes. As far as your being a rude person yourself, I wouldn’t know about that. I figure anyone who tops her blog with beautiful cupcakes can’t be that bad 😉

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