What It's Like to Weigh People Constantly As Part of My Job
By: Brenna Briggs I work in a medical practice. I’m a medical assistant. I greet the patients, escort them to their exam rooms, get all of the information, and take their vitals. When we get to the “I’m just going to have you step on the scale so I can get your weight” part, there is always a pit in my stomach. I have not had one person that is eager or happy to oblige with the task I suggested. It brings down the entire mood of the person, eating disorder or not.
It’s a terrible feeling for the patient, but also for me because I get it. We allow this silly number to have so much power over us that it literally can make or break someone’s day. I have gotten used to dealing with the patient’s comments, because well, we have no choice. I need to get their weight, it’s part of my job, it’s protocol. I try to make jokes to make light of the situation, and normally we get through the awkward moment fairly quickly. The part I’ll never get used to is the patient’s that say to me “If I looked like you I wouldn't have a problem getting on the scale.” I grit my teeth, and I smile, because what else can I do?
I can’t tell them that I was a slave to the scale, I spent my days not eating, or getting rid of every little morsel of food I did let myself indulge in. I did this because I didn’t want to look like me. I was depressed, I was sad, I was trapped in my own body and I was a slave to the scale and my eating disorder. One hospitalization and treatment center after another, hostage by my own mind for 12 years. They don’t know this though, how could they? I’m short, and at my healthy body weight I am on the smaller side, but I’m healthy. I’m strong, I’m courageous and I beat a disease that almost killed me.
I’m proud of the way I look because it took me a long time to get to that point, and you know what? If you were me, you wouldn't have a problem getting on the scale because I don’t have a scale, I don’t weigh myself because I am more than a number and I will never let a day be ruined by a number. I will never be a hostage to a number and I am damn proud of that. Recovery has given me my life back, and it has given me so much more than that as well. A new outlook on life, a new power. A new passion for helping people especially those struggling just like I was. I know these patients don’t mean any harm by what they are saying, but I guess my feeling is, you can never be too careful with blunt statements. Everybody is fighting their own battle and demons, think before you speak, bring each other up. Spread love, not hate, and especially not germs.
About the Author: Brenna Briggs is a Project HEAL Boston Chapter volunteer.