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It's the part of a regular doc's visit that an ED recoveree dreads the most:

"Ok, ma'am (or sir), hop up on this and we'll get your weight."

No problem for some. But for an ED/post-ED patient it's more like, oh, pick one....

Yeah, you got it. Torture. Why? Because that number--whatever it is--will roll around in your head for minutes. And hours. And days after the visit. It will start to affect the way you think, breathe, and yes--eat. And it SUCKS.

Plus it's medically unnecessary in all but a few cases. And today it was not necessary. I voluntarily choose to be weighed once or twice a year. I was weighed earlier this year, which is why I opted out today. Usually nurses ask why, and I don't mind at all. Because when I tell them that I beat the odds against anorexia, bulimia, exercise addiction, 5 hospitalizations and the brink of--ya know--personal doom--they almost always respond with, "Wow, congrats." Or, "Go you!" Or, "You look strong and healthy, good job!"

But not today. Oh noo hoo hoo. Ms. "Ratched" (as I'll call) her wasn't having any of that. So our conversation went like this:

Nurse Ratched: Ok, ma'am I need ya to hop up on this scale so I can get your weight.
Me: No, thank you. I'm not doing weight today. It's in my chart from last visit.
NR: Well I NEED a weight today. (yes, the emphasis was on *need*)
Me: I understand. But you see I'm a recovered eating disorder patient so....
NR: I NEED a weight. It's part of my job.
Me: I see. And I'll be happy to let you take all my other vitals. But weight is a trigger.
NR: Well if you (sic) in recovery, then we need to see if you gain or lost weight (sic, sic, sic).
Me: Um, no. I'm sorry, but for me recovery means I do mindful weigh-ins. I will not be doing one today.
NR: You trying to tell me how to do my job?
Me: Uh?

Realizing she's not going to get my (un)happy ass up onto the Detecto-nator, we move onto blood pressure. Which is about 1000/300. And pulse. Which is, oh, 179. Huh, wonder why?

As she's about to stick the thermometer into my mouth, she mumbles sotto voce, "I bet you think you qualified to tell me how to do this too."

Me: (*don'tsayitdon'tsayit*). Well, actually yes--I am. I'm a professional Standardized Patient Educator. So yes, I can safely say that I am qualified to tell you how to do this. And you did not do my blood pressure correctly. (*Ahhhh. I said it*)


And she looks at me like this:

And I look at her like this:

Then she steps out and calls for help with her "uncompliant patient". I can clearly hear her mocking the way I asked her not to weigh me. And I can hear the other person laughing along with her. Welp, just like that I have a reputation up and down the hallway. Drama at the medplex, room 3.


Folks, this is what happens when you are a recovered ED patient and are forced to interact with a medical professional who has been...let's just say...very poorly informed on protocol when it comes to patients like you. I'm sure it can be like that for folks with other conditions--either the nurse/doctor/orderlies/specialists/etc. get it or they don't. And when they don't, well, see above.

In the end, the visit turned out well. I had the presence of mind (and two decades of training) to take a deep breath, center myself and speak to her superior. Who, in the small world of New Orleans, happened to have earned her masters in the same department at the same university as I did. Big living room much? All that aside, I calmly related the facts and my feelings. She could not have been more empathetic and promised to incorporate eating disorder awareness into training protocol, effective immediately. She also told me that if I were treated that way in the future (i.e. if the staff didn't adhere to the protocol) she would support me in filing a written grievance. She assured me that I was in the right and (literally) gave me a pat on the back for speaking up for myself and defending my recovery. SWEET!

You know how I said that today turned out well? It did--and given my history today was the exception. In the past 24 years (ever since my being diagnosed with anorexia nervosa) I have had interactions with medical staff like that dozens and dozens of times. Those times, I didn't collect my thoughts. I didn't lean in or opt out or speak calmly. Instead, I bit my tongue through torturous encounters and went outside in the parking lot and screamed like an animal with a spike in its brain (I'm quoting my 20-year-old self here). Or I screamed inside the office or hospital...and sometimes didn't leave for months. Or I kept quiet until I could lock myself in a bathroom and cut. Because back then I didn't have the words to explain what was going on. I didn't feel like I had the right to assert myself. I thought "they" must know better than I did. I could go on and on. But today I didn't do any of that.

Today I had the courage to say no. Repeatedly. Today I had the poise to engage in dialogue and strive to educate someone. Today I had the patience not to blow my top when it became obvious that that someone--a trained member of a medical team--had no interest in learning about a condition from their patient. And today I had the composure to state my case and--very likely--help to make some lasting changes. It was a small move on my part, but it was also my way of paying it back--to the 16-year-old in me who nearly ripped herself to pieces. It was also my way of paying it forward--to all those girls and boys who walk the halls of medicine with a mile-long file of Dxs that may or may not fit who they really are or what they really struggle with--as they talk to professionals who may or may not get it. Here's to hoping--and working--for more that do.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2015 07:51 pm (UTC)
I've had three appointments with the local psychiatric team this year...should have only been two, but the first shrink I spoke to was distracted, rude and lacking in any kind of empathy. I put in a complaint and it's good to know that, as in your case, superiors do actually listen to patients concerns.
May. 8th, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC)
Stay strong, friend!
For some reason my initial reply didn't post so I'm rewriting from my (somewhat poor) short term memory. Yes definitely--keep speaking up. Loudly and as often as needed. It can be frustrating and exhausting--especially with all the other things going on that bring one to the doc's in the first place--but I truly believe it works. You deserve nothing less than empathy and undivided attention. Nobody has the right to undermine your position as a willing patient. You know yourself and your case better than anyone, and a medical professional should be your ally in the treatment process.
May. 8th, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Stay strong, friend!
The last guy I saw was part of the therapy team, not a psychiatrist. The teams share a building, yet his lot do treat us like allies. Bizarre that they all have diametrically opposing methods.
May. 8th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Stay strong, friend!
It is bizarre. My former (awesome) NP moved recently, so I'm getting established with this new clinic. My initial visit was great. This (follow-up) was like night vs.day. Same building, same team...totally different ethos.
May. 10th, 2015 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Stay strong, friend!
Well here's to our journeys...

Edited at 2015-05-10 06:53 pm (UTC)
May. 10th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Stay strong, friend!
Indeed! Wait, did I remember to buy a round-trip ticket? What time does the train leave, anyway? Oh well, at least I remembered to pack snacks.
May. 9th, 2015 04:19 am (UTC)
You. Fucking. Rock!
May. 9th, 2015 02:51 pm (UTC)
Aww thanks!! :-)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Me and B.
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