My wife and I drove passed the office without seeing it. SIRI kept yelling that it was on our left, but we still missed it. From the outside you see two glass windows and a glass door, like a downtown shop, with the clinic name and hours in white letters that were invisible against drawn white blinds. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this level of inconspicuousness was not it.
Apparently this location is a satellite clinic that only operates in my neck of the woods on Wednesdays.
Inside the clinic was neat with carpet, several bariatric chairs, and two office personnel sitting at oak office desks. A receptionist and a certified medical assistant (CMA). Check-in was a breeze. I was given a program binder to review briefly then lead to an exam room.
I was weighed on a large scale (I kept my shoes) and then measured using a new stadiometer (I took my shoes off… BMI is everything right now). Everything was made for fat people! The chairs, the exam table, and all of the equipment. It was a relief not to have to worry that the CMA was going to try to squeeze my arm with an adult blood pressure cuff when I need a large adult cuff for an accurate blood pressure reading. After a quick intake, we were guided down the hall to a large office and were introduced to my new doctor.
There is always this moment I experience as a queer, fat woman where I introduce my wife and the world pauses while I watch for a reaction from my health care provider. Will this person provide us with accurate, timely, and evidence-based care? Will they be compassionate, respectful, and ask me questions without shame? I watch carefully for these answers, because when considering a healthcare provider my life may depend on it. This is not an overreaction, this is a practice I developed after entering the health care profession more than ten years ago and learned first-hand how dangerous ignorance can be in those that protect health and life.
I watched carefully when the wife and I met the man who will cut into my belly and change my digestive system forever. He seemed straight-forward, compassionate, and funny. He actually read the new patient paperwork I submitted! It was a good fit.
I answered all questions without using filters, I want help and experiences have taught me that liars are awful patients who have bad outcomes (and usually it’s their own stupid fault). I don’t want that for myself, so aside from my generic health history, we discussed eating patterns, my relationship with my wife, support systems, barriers to care, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and activities I love. Then he asked me if I had ever been sexually abused as a child, so we discussed my status as a survivor of sexual abuse and how it may or may not contribute to my weight and disordered eating. It was not awkward or uncomfortable, though I had a moment where I felt overwhelmed with pieces of me that I never think about. It helped to have my wife present, it is supportive and strong, and a doctor who seems to want long-term success for his patients. It was cathartic and we mutually agreed that therapy should be used in conjunction with the tools provided by Eviva for the best results.
After learning more about me, he told me that he preferred the vertical sleeve gastrectomy to the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and felt that I would benefit most from the sleeve. He explained both, drew diagrams, and layed out the benefits and risks of each surgery. Which did I want to declair as my goal? I had entered the appointment with my heart set on the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a surgery one of my best friends had done December 2015, but after hearing him I decided to take a few months to consider my options prior to making a final decision. I was marked as undecided. “Don’t worry,” he told me, “you just need to decide prior scheduling a surgery at the end of your six month supervised diet.”
We concluded the visit with an EKG performed by the male medical assistant who checked me in for the doctor. Normal sinus rhythm meant no cardiologist referral! Yes!
After an appointment that lasted about 90 minutes, I left with a happy, slightly heavy heart, lab requisitions, referrals, and more appointments!