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