I’m not even sorry for getting that song in your head.
At the end of March, I went for my first doctor’s appointment in about 12 years. I had already dropped about 15 pounds from my all-time heaviest weight in January, but this was obviously a drop in the bucket. I had put off visiting a GP for so long because of the overwhelming embarrassment and shame I felt at going in there and having my weight read, not to mention what other bad news may have been revealed. I was finally in the right mindset to go by then, though, and so my outward adult dragged my inner child in for a long-overdue check-up.
I spent the appointment fighting back tears while complaining of incredible stress, nerves, anxiety, fear, and sense of worthlessness. I expressed to the doctor that I knew my weight was the main source of all of these things, even if there were additional external contributors. She listened to everything I said, spoke with me as if she had all the time in the world, and provided support instead of lectures. Even though I still had the expected sense of shame for being my size, it felt good to actually unload all of that on someone who didn’t have an emotional stake in it (and therefore wouldn’t tell me things weren’t that bad), but who could still be sympathetic and easy to talk to. After the appointment, my doctor ordered a full blood panel for me. Not surprisingly, my numbers could have been better. My sugars were at pre-diabetic levels and my bad cholesterol was a little elevated. Immediately after sharing this information with me, my doctor suggested I work on my weight as we had discussed, and come back and see her in July.
This morning was the follow-up appointment. I have never, ever, ever, ever, in my entire life, smiled so much in a doctor’s office. That includes when I was little and used to get pretzel rods and lollipops for getting those shots I was never afraid of.
First, the nurse who took me back took my blood pressure. Then, it was scale time. I guess she was using my previous weight as a starting point, because she moved the 50-pound weight into a category I haven’t been in in a while. I almost told her that was too high, but figured it would be more fun to let her discover that on her own. (I’m a smug little thing sometimes.) Once the nurse notated my weight, we went back over to the exam table and she entered it into the computer, where she kind of froze in place.
“When you were here last time, we had you weighed in at XXX — is that RIGHT?!” she asked.
“Yup.” I said.
“GO ‘HEAD!” she exclaimed. She continued about how hard I must be working, that I was doing great, and keep up the good work. That was pretty cool.
Then, I was in the exam room alone and waiting for the doctor. Usually, I check my phone or read something while I’m waiting around, but this time, I just kept staring at things around the room. My hands. The extra expanse of lap I could see on the exam table compared to the last time I was there. The scale weights, which the nurse had left in place, reflecting my weight loss over the last 3.5 months. My reflection in the metal paper towel holder.
When my doctor came in, she greeted me, asked how I was doing, and whether I was experiencing any new pain since our last visit — she was in the process of pulling up my file on the computer screen as I answered her questions. Suddenly, she furrowed her brow and stared very seriously at the computer screen. Then, she murmured, “Wait…” and inched her face closer to the screen. I was actually worried, and said, “Oh no, what’s wrong?!” The doctor’s face immediately broke into a huge grin as she looked at me and asked, “Have you lost fifty-one pounds since your first visit?!”
The woman did not stop smiling the rest of the time she was in the room. Before she’d come in to see me, the nurse had told her I’d lost weight, and she was expecting it to be 10, maybe 15 pounds. She kept repeating how proud she was of me, how impressed she was, how I had made her day, how I was doing this the right way. She wanted to know what I was doing, if everything felt right while I was moving, what I was eating, how often I was working out, if all of the weight loss was intentional, how my anxiety and stress were, and how I felt overall. She kept nodding and smiling throughout the conversation. She asked what my goal weight was and approved of it. When we came to the point of the conversation about the purpose of this doctor’s visit, and she realized it was for follow-up blood work, she scoffed out loud and said, “Well, you’re not gonna be pre-diabetic now.” She said we could skip the blood draw unless I wanted to do it, and I said I actually did want to see the change in numbers, and she was even excited about THAT. At some point, she mentioned that their office is going to move to a big building where they’ll have a training center, a demonstration kitchen, seminars, support groups, etc., and said she would want to bring me around as show and tell for all her patients who insist they’re doing everything they can to lose weight, but she knows they’re not because “the numbers don’t lie.” She high-fived me early in the visit and hugged me at the end. It was like getting a report card full of As and being so excited to go home and
hang it on the fridge tattoo it on my forehead. She wants to see me again in 6 months to see how I’m progressing. As soon as she finished saying that, she added in through her plastered-on smile, “I probably won’t even recognize you by then!”
The nurse who first escorted me to the exam room came back after the doctor left to do my blood work. I’ll have the results in 2-3 days. Even if the numbers aren’t in normal ranges or better, I will still be flying high from how fantastically that appointment went. I’ve had a spring in my step all day.
Guys, I know that a lot of the time, my posts sound really confident, positive, and dangerously close to obnoxious with self-congratulation. I’m sure it gets irritating, so I feel the need to explain that there’s a reason I let myself go on like that, and it’s beyond the simple “because it’s how I feel.” It’s because I haven’t always felt this way, and as I continue along my mission, the positive emotions may stop or become harder to reach. I’m allowing myself to talk to death about how accomplished and successful I feel for that girl in the doctor’s exam room 3½ months ago whose self-doubt and self-abandonment landed her there in the first place. I’m also doing it for the girl 3½ months from now whose weight is taking longer to come off and who is tired of working so hard all the time. I have to honor the past version of myself to keep me going in the present, and I have to bank my triumphs in the present to keep me going in the future.
Thanks for letting me do that.