Last week, I went to the student health center to get an allergy prescription. I'm a grad student and student health is free! I still have to pay for the prescription because I don't have health insurance for the moment, but the appointment is free! Maybe you get what you pay for, because it was a weird little experience that I've probably retold to five or six different people in the last seven days.Reactions to Karen's experience?
The nurse had me step on the scale in the hallway. I did, and watched the number appear, all digital style, the same number I've been frowning at when standing on the YMCA scale, jiggling the non-digital balance thingy, hoping it'll bounce up, er, down, a little.
The nurse, on the other hand, was shocked at the number. Not because she knows me (never seen her before) or saw that I'd gained a significant amount since my last visit (I haven't) or was even looking at my chart. She was shocked because, as she put it, "Wow. You do not look like you weigh that much!"
I chuckled or snorted or something, perhaps slightly uncomfortable, but not hearing the alarm bells that later reflection told me I should have heard. My people-pleasing kicked in, and I said, with a little slap to my, ahem, outer thigh, "It's all in my hips!"
"Seriously," the nurse continued, unable to impress this upon me with only one inappropriate comment, "You do NOT look like you weigh that much."
Heh, heh, I might have said. I went into the room, briefly chatted with the doctor, got my script, and I was gone. It wasn't until after class, on my hour-long drive home, that I thought, Huh. Something was not right about that.
I probably should write a letter to the medical director, as more than one of my post-event confidantes told me. I should probably include in that letter that no staff member should ever comment on a woman's (or any patient's) weight while weighing them and writing the number in the chart. If a comment needs to be made, as it might, about significant gain or loss, or concerns about medical complications, it should be made by the primary provider, in a sensitive, confidential way.
Here's the thing. I think she thought she was complimenting me. "Wow, you look skinnier than that number!" or "Wow, you look like you weigh ten pounds less!" But isn't there also a subtext:
"Wow, that's a high number!" or "Wow, you don't look that fat!" And what about this? What if I were recovering from or still dealing with an eating disorder? This is university student health. I know I'm 36 and don't flatter myself that I look 18, but eating disorders have been around since my college days. If it bothered me, who has never been particularly obsessed or concerned about my weight, what would it have done to someone who was finally at a "normal" weight after years of anorexia or bulimia. What if I'd heard negative things about my weight through my whole life from my mother or other important role models? (And isn't that A LOT of women?)
Monday, February 02, 2009
Karen, over at Some of My Other Random Thoughts, emailed me an excerpt from one of her recent posts. Check it out: