Dear medical assistant,

Thank you for being friendly. That’s really the only compliment I have for you after our brief encounter last week.

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.

Ramblings

Fair warning there will probably be a ton of word vomit in this post because I have a lot to process and I don’t feel like burdening someone with it all.

Therapy. It definitely gave me some much-needed processing this week. We talked about the downward spiral that Ed is and steps to stopping it. My goal for the week is to get rid of some stress and tackling some issues the end of the semester brings. I want to make a schedule and checklist because that tends to ease my nerves a bit. I also have to try to eat. This isn’t easy. I feel gross just thinking of the minimums I’m supposed to have. Jenny and I also discussed how I’m ever going to choose college. I want to cry because this disorder is ruining my future college experience. I don’t know how I’m going to make it next year, even if I end up going to Grace where I have support. Realistically I can’t do all of the things I should be. I am terrified what will happen when I’m on my own. Ultimately there’s so much to think about with my future. I also showed her the article I found earlier last week about physiological damage that anorexia causes. That article scared me so much. The more I read about it and look at statistics, I start to give up the notion that I can’t get sick like that. I have this belief that I won’t ever have to deal with those effects, when I’m actually already facing some. There is less and less doubt in my mind that my body will stay healthy if I keep doing this. As I said before, just tons and tons of information to process and go over.

Eating. I want to sugar coat it and say how well I’m doing, but that would be a huge lie. I have gone back to pure restriction, past even where I was most of last year/this summer. I maybe get one meal in. Even if I do get one, it usually is lacking majorly. I know I am starving my body. I know this is slow suicide. I know these things but I can’t stop. I don’t even have to think about lying and throwing away food anymore, I just do. I have guilt from throwing food out and also from eating thee little bit I manage. I don’t think I’ll be able to hide it much longer and that scares me. I’m not sure what to do.

Ed thoughts. Some moments it feels like they’re on a loudspeaker and other times not, mostly because it’s all I hear anymore. I just make decisions solely on Ed and I feel like the real me doesn’t have a voice. I think she’s too far gone to even get back right now…

Doctor appointment. Today I visited my new doctor for the first time. I was so nervous going into it because speaking about my eating disorder and other MH issues is hard. Luckily the nurse there and my doctor were amazing and accommodating. She was respectful and completely different from what I experienced with my pediatrician last year. Right away she pointed out that I have an enlarged thyroid that could be contributing to depression. I asked her why Paul wouldn’t have noticed because she thinks it’s been going on a while. I’ll have to get lots of blood drawn tomorrow for that and labs for the anorexia since I haven’t had a full  workup in almost 5 months(!!!). I’m pretty scared for the results but I know it’s better to catch something early. Maybe it would be motivation to fight harder. Either way I am not going to freak out. It won’t help me any and it won’t change the results. I am in good hands no matter what.

Two and a half weeks. My goal right now is to get through this semester. It’s nearly over now and I absolutely can’t do anything that would jeopardize me finishing. I have to hang in there, even if I feel half-dead most of the time. I will put my health on the line if I have to, not that I’m to that point. I’ll have a month off and whatever needs to be done then can be done. At this point, I don’t think I need treatment again. I don’t really know what I need, but I guess I have time to figure it out. I know that life will get 1000x more stressful food-wise once I’m home all day. I definitely am not looking forward to it, but the thought of spending my time  off in the hospital is not too enticing either. Besides, I can’t be that sick when I’m clearly not as bad off as I was this summer. Maybe that’s Ed talking, oh well.

Pictures from this week:

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Look at all the lovely snow… yuck!
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My lovely NEDA necklace I got for my birthday 🙂
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Milo being all cute and tired
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DELICIOUS asian salad I had for lunch today
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The last three were so hard to write down
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Pretty proud of myself for this
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Basically my feelings for this week in general.