Thank you for being friendly. That’s really the only compliment I have for you after our brief encounter last week.
I know that I shouldn’t have looked at my weight. As we walked back to the room it was all I could think about. I prayed that you would ask me to list my meds or symptoms or something, anything to distract me. Instead, you asked what my weight was because you had forgotten. I told you, and you immediately said you didn’t believe me. Instead of trusting that I really did pay attention, you walked out to recheck the scale.
You came back and told me what I weighed before (almost 2 years ago now) and the huge difference between then and now. At that point I truly wanted to cry. I didn’t need to be reminded of any of those numbers. I am controlled by numbers like those every single day.
I wish that was the end of the story, but unfortunately, it’s not. I breathed a little sigh of relief as you left, because those were a difficult 10 minutes. I pulled out my phone to distract when I heard you talking in the hallway. Loudly. About my weight. You named the two numbers and mentioned the difference between them. I don’t know who you were sharing this with or why, I just know it wasn’t my doctor.
I’ll admit, part of this problem could have been prevented by me. If I had done the right thing (recovery-wise), the first half could have been avoided. I would instead choose to turn around on the scale and ask to not be told the number because I have a history of an eating disorder. Because that didn’t happen, there was no caution around speaking the weight out loud.
The rest of this is on you, though. I don’t understand how you felt your comments would be helpful. Yes, my weight has changed. Yes, my doctor should know that (btw she did not mention it AT ALL). Did you really need to have that discussion with me? I don’t think so.
What really bothered me about our interaction is that it was just a one-sided conversation. There was no asking about anything that has changed between this visit and last, whether I was aware of the weight shift, etc. It didn’t seem like you wanted to know why my weight was so different. I, like many people with eating disorders, wasn’t about to give that information up unless you actually looked in my chart and asked specifically.
I’m not going to blame you for our private conversation. Yes, things could be better, but I’m used to this by now. Having an eating disorder means that weight will always be one of my least favorite parts of any appointment. I am always terrified of the comments that may come. I’ve had many people handle things worse than you did, and some better. I expect it at this point. It didn’t shake me horribly, but what came after did.
It makes me extremely uncomfortable knowing that any of the doctors or nurses (even patients!) out in the hallway could have heard your comments about my weight. The fact that they may not know my personal information doesn’t make this feel any better.
You shared something highly personal even if it didn’t include identifying information. My weight is not taken so you can provide your opinion about it and share that with the world. It doesn’t matter what the difference is, higher or lower, because making a huge deal about it isn’t okay.
I hope that you will realize that you are projecting your voice significantly when you talk. Maybe you simply don’t notice it, which is understandable. It’s hard to judge how loudly you’re speaking sometimes, I suppose. (That still doesn’t excuse talking about my weight out there in the first place, but moving on…)
I hope that you will aim to approach the topic of weight with some more caution. It’s okay to ask some questions when they are helpful medically. It isn’t bad for every patient to be told their weight (but respecting those who aren’t interested is important too). These type of measurements can be important to overall assessments at times but don’t need to be the focus of your responsibilities.
I hope that you will choose to keep your comments about a patient between you and their care providers. If there was one thing I want to teach you from this, it would be to stop and think. If you are announcing something about a patient, who is the audience? This includes anyone within earshot because they can tune in as well. Who is meant to be the audience? Who needs to know this information? How can you keep the information as confidential as possible? These things are truly HIPAA 1.0. It can be pretty annoying to go through all the training, but these regulations are essential when it comes to patient safety and trust. I honestly do not trust you now, and even finding comfort in the practice is tough. I am now terrified that this could happen again or that another office I go to will do the same thing.
Making a huge deal out of my weight, talking extensively about the changes, using a judgmental tone, and the excessive sharing of it made a simple trip to the doctor a very uncomfortable experience. I hope that if I ever return to this practice you don’t check me in. If it does happen, however, I’ll know what to expect and advocate for myself better than I did this time.