My doctor’s office visit yesterday shook both me and my recovery.
Let me back up.
I have been dealing with a lot of health issues lately, both side effects from long term use eating disorder behaviors (bulging disks in my spine, arthritis, and sleep apnea) and recent accidents (I fell out of a tree and almost lost my arm… trying to save my cat! #catlady). And I have been in and out of the doctor’s office SO much lately. Like 3 appointments a week for the last few months! It’s exhausting.
On top of that, I’ve been seeing my weight…
I am fully weight restored from anorexia and my body has basically settled into a set point it wants to be. However, it’s not a static number – I fluctuate. Woman and men alike who don’t restrict and manipulate their meals/exercise based on their weight do this. They fluctuate in weight! I have been in shock the past few months of the ebb and flow of my body. But it really shouldn’t be a surprise. It is what bodies do!
Yet, it’s not always easy to accept… Especially when doctors don’t read my charts and pay attention to my medical history of eating disorders.
He said what?!
While having my 30 day check-in after receiving treatment for sleep apnea, the doctor gave me the good news that the treatment is working! “Awesome”, I thought! It is nice when your body is responding well to treatment of any kind! His next comment threw me…
Mrs. Heberling, it looks like you have gained weight since your last visit 25 days ago. You understand that sleep apnea gets worse with weight gain, correct? I need you to be aware of that and watch your weight carefully.
This is one of those situations that I was dumbfounded in the moment, yet had ALL the right things to say when I got to the safety of my car. But I can tell you this – he’ll receive a link to this article… #shoutout!
What I think about this doctor commenting on my minimal weight gain in the past month… It’s absurd.
I can NEVER be one to “watch my weight.” Doing that almost killed me.
He should have read my chart and seen my history and been sensitive to my medical history and struggle with anorexia.
And If he was that concerned, he should have asked me was there anything going on the past month to spark the weight gain. I would have politely told him that my body was in the middle of my cycle, and hormones were kicking and causing all sorts of havoc on my system!
Most healthy people fluctuate in weight. It’s not an indicator that one will spiral into extremes. And even if I was, it does not change the fact that the treatment I have been receiving is working!
Weight vs. the individual
Now, I believe in Heath at Every Size…
Not all people do, especially doctors. I understand and think that good doctors will give you all the information needed to help you be in optimal health. But if treatments are working for a person regardless of their size, maybe weight is a non-factor! MAYBE treating the symptom is ENOUGH!
Maybe, just MAYBE we focus too much on weight and not enough on the individual.
As I sat in the car trying to wrap my head around my wise mind instead of giving into the ED thoughts that the doctor had triggered, I realized the best thing to do in that moment was compare. No, not compare my body to someone else’s; not compare my weight to the weight I was a month, a year, or a decade ago.
I compared the joy in my life currently to the joy in my life when I was deep in my eating disorder. A few years ago, my body was dying. My brain was plagued with torturous thoughts. My relationships were ruled by an invisible monster and my life was confined to ridged structure that left little room for anything but ED.
Now, I have highs and lows, with the lows lasting only a short time. I have connection and compassion that I have never known. Now, I can be present and experience new things with the ones I love.
I will not “watch my weight”
When I compare my ED life to the now free of ED life, I can honestly have peace. I will not fall into the trap of believing my life and health will be better if I restrict. Never again will not fall victim to the debilitating thoughts that plagued me for over 16 years. I will not allow one person’s comment to derail my hard work. I WILL NOT WATCH MY WEIGHT. Period.
Many warriors have been tested by inconsiderate and uneducated (when it comes to eating disorders) doctors. We need to take a stand. We need to stick up for ourselves. And we need to take back the ability to go to the doctor without fear of an insensitive comment about our weight. It’s that simple.
Doctors: get to know your patients, and be sensitive to their medical history.
Warriors: Keep showing up for yourself. You’re worth it.