Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Skin In The Game

Ricky and I were the same age.  We both were struggling with the ins and outs of new parenthood.  I had a boy, he a girl.  Yet my gray coat hid the mildly protuberant abdomen, while his belly bulged into his t-shirt and formed a barrier between us.  He was at least a hundred pounds over weight.  And I, as his physician, wasn't going to pas up the opportunity to counsel on healthy living. 

Once a year, Ricky waltzed into my office for his annual.  Over time, I had noticed how his height stayed the same, but his weight kept growing.  He now fell into the category of morbidly obese.  I breached the subject of diets.  He preferred Atkins,  I preferred Weight Watchers. We discussed different methods of keeping active.  I suggested family walks with the little one in a stroller.

As the conversation progressed, I couldn't help but feel a dysphoric twinge in the pit of my stomach.  I shifted my weight in the chair.  My size thirty six pants were starting to get a little too tight. I absentmindedly wiped the edges of my mouth in order to make sure no remnants of the fast food I ate for lunch were left in plain view.

I was a hypocrite.  My girth had ballooned since medical school.  My eating habits were poor, and I lived a sedentary lifestyle.  Why ever should Ricky listen to me?  I decided to try a different angle.  I cleared my throat before speaking.

You know what?  I could do this better too.  Why don't we work together?

We put our heads down, and a few minutes later had a plan that we could live by.  Ricky would join Weight Watchers and swim three times a week, and I would cut out the fast food and walk every day.  The office visit ended with a sense of camaraderie and shared mission.


My son will turn eight in October.  I have no idea what came of Ricky.  The last time I saw him, he had lost over seventy five pounds.  His blood pressure was better, and he stopped all his diabetes medications.  I lost track of him after he moved to another city.

And me?  I dropped twenty pounds and now sport a comfortable size thirty two waist.  I walk everyday.

Ricky taught me so much about the practice of medicine without even knowing it.  I now know that to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

More importantly, over the years I've learned one essential truth.  For this doctor-patient relationship thing to work,

we have to all be in it together.


Chrysalis said...

Good for you and Ricky!

We're all hypocrites, but we don't have to stay that way. You turned it around, along with your patient.Great for the both of you.

tracy said...

Great work, Dr. Grumet...you inspire me!

i have gained about 13-15 pounds over the past year and i hate it...i never thought i would let it get this bad again.

130 may now sound horrible, but it is when one has been soooo much less...ugh!

You will be my "Fitspiration"!

Thank you so much,

AfternoonNapper said...

I love this post because it emphasizes the humanness of doctors - and the ability of doctors and patients to both teach one another. I've just recently started kicking around an idea of getting disabled / unable to work full-time patients to teach skills to doctors as part of a sort of continuing education type program. Think of patients who can write, do pottery, cook, tie a fly! How could would it be to bring those patients into a medical facility for a lunch and learn type program to help HCPs burn off some steam?