Monday, June 17, 2013

Red and Black

I remember my very first endo appointment. Before even stepping foot into the exam room or meeting my endo, I was placed on the scale.

I winced at the number, but still felt pretty good that I was nowhere near the 190.4 pounds I’d seen 4 years earlier. The assistant wrote the number, in large print, on a form with my name and put it on the outside cover of my file for the world to see. When it was time for my endo to come in, she’d be greeted by the file with my weight listed higher up and more prominently on the page than my name or my presenting complaint.

I remember that during that meeting, my weight was never mentioned once. My endo and I talked at length about how I looked healthy, but felt far from it and had no idea what was going on.

My next appointment a month or so later (the one where I received my official diagnosis) also began with me stepping on the scale before entering the room. This time the assistant took my weight, looked back at the prior cover sheet of shame to see my weight at that visit, calculated the difference, and wrote, in even bigger print than she recorded my weight, the difference between my two weight measurements and circled it in black pen. Now it was the difference in my weight from the prior appointment prominently displayed on the page to greet my endo before she walked in the door. 

Since that day, for each quarterly appointment, I told them I didn’t want to know my weight and closed my eyes when I got on the scale. Over the years, I encountered the assistant who didn’t clear my weight from the scale before telling me I could step off (and open my eyes to do so safely), the assistant who talked to herself while she was taking/recording my weight (thus announcing my weight not only to me, but to everyone around me), and the assistant who last consumed a proper meal sometime in the 70s and set the scale so low that I could hear every painful notch she added to it until finally landing on my weight and declaring “oh I had no idea you weighed so much.”

Every time, the difference was recorded in black pen and prominently circled on the cover sheet of shame right on the outside of my file. And every time, before even entering the room, I could hear my endo taking a minute to look at that sheet. Before walking into the room, she had already boiled me down into numbers (weight and bloodwork).

My endo never made a big deal of my weight, but it always came up in the “you’ve lost so much weight! You look great! You aren’t doing anything unhealthy to lose this weight, are you?” Back then, I wasn’t, but I was certainly excruciatingly (and unhealthily) aware that I’d be getting weighed. Each exclamation that I looked great at my new weight made me question her prior assertion that I looked great and made me deduce that for her, thinner must have meant better. With every appointment, I was painfully aware of my weight and any amount of loss was never enough – I always wanted to be thinner to show her just how “healthy” I could be.

Then I had an appointment scheduled on quite possibly the worst day ever - December 26th, immediately after the day in which in consume the most food in the entire year. I was so terrified I tried to move the appointment but was told my scripts wouldn’t be refilled if I did that. So I went, took a deep breath, and stepped on the scale.

I stepped down expecting to see the assistant grab the black pen and calculate the weight difference as she had so many times before, but she didn’t. This time, she pulled out a red pen. As if she were a teacher awarding a failing grade to the class screwup, she finished her task, recording and circling the weight difference and bestowing a scarlet letter upon the page of shame telling my endo before she even saw the number, that I’d gained weight. During that appointment, my weight didn't come up. At all. No "you look great" no "how often are you working out?" Nothing. Nothing to suggest to me that my endo still thought I looked healthy.

And now every time I go for an appointment, after stepping off the scale I hold my breath waiting to see which pen the assistant will choose – red or black?

If the title of this post made you think of this, you're awesome. 

Truly honored to have this post selected as Best T 1.5 Post for the month of June. 


  1. Hey babe. I never know what to say or how to say it when it comes to your weight, because I know your weight is something that has bothered you for a long time.

    I just wanted to tell you, that that number in no way defines you as a person. You've been there for me through every crazy thing that has been tossed at me. You've been there for me when I felt hopeless, unsure, angry, and completely broken.

    Not only have you been there for me in those moments, but you reversed that feeling into hope, certainty, and happiness. You put my pieces back together when I fell apart and hugged me tight when I was scared.

    I know that no matter what I say you'll feel the same about your weight, but because you're such a genuinely amazing woman and girlfriend I will love and cherish everything I get to share with you, and I think you're absolutely beautiful in every way.

    This seems to have turned into a blog post sized comment, but I can't tell you enough how much I adore everything about you. You're my queen, my angel, and my shining star. I'm the luckiest man in the world and appreciate everything about you.

    You're beautiful inside and out, and I'm so lucky that I get to tell you that for the rest of our lives.


    48779 <3

  2. it's just a number, but numbers can hurt.

    you are so much more than all of this. <3