Obesity and Checking Medical Records with Your Doctor

Phat in My 40's Health Guide August 24, 2010
  • At the beginning of this journey, I set out to keep an accurate record of my weight as it has changed from week-to-week.  I believe that I haven’t missed a single weigh-in besides the Sunday in June when I was on a cruise ship in the north Pacific Ocean.

     

    One thing I had not thought to do until this past week was to contact my doctor’s office to check my files and tell me what I weighed during at least one visit per year for the past decade.  I already knew that my highest documented weight was 283 pounds in February 2009.

     

    I was somewhat surprised at what I learned.  For years, the nurse would lead me down the hall and ask how I was doing.  I would dutifully stand on the stand and stare at the wall, only giving a minor glance to the number displayed.  I didn’t really want to know what I weighed and would rather ignore that bit of information.

     

    Some of my doctors confronted me with the information and others simply chose to focus on the reason for my visit.  I had become a statistic, one of the 1/3 of adults who are obese in our country.

     

    Last week when I picked up the phone and called my doctor’s office, the nurse was already gone for the day.  But the receptionist took the time to look up my chart.  By the way, my doctor’s office has kept electronic records for many years.  They were early adapters and I’ve noticed that record keeping is very efficient during office visits.  This was a case proving the point that sometimes having information in the computers is much more handy than the thick paper files.

     

    So anyways, I asked what my weight was last year (which I already knew).  I asked what my weight was in 2008.  I asked what my weight was in 2007.  The year before that.  And the year before that.  All the way back to 2001, the year that the records went electronic.  So the only year I was missing was 2000, the very first year I was in this doctor’s office.

     

    The resulting chart is very interesting.  First of all, I wasn’t aware that I truly weighed so much after moving to the Washington, DC area.  That means that I gained a lot of weight from my lowest during graduate school to the time I began freelancing in the DC area.

     

    I wish that I knew what my weight was the summer that I moved to DC (1998).  Those first couple of years in town were very stressful for various reasons and I think that’s when I started hoarding food.  It was also the first time I had had a roommate in almost 10 years.  I believe that probably contributed to my behavior.

     

    But looking at the chart, there have been two distinct dips and climbs in the past 10 years.  A peak in 2002 was around the time that my gynecologist said that I was “killing” myself by being obese.  I resented her words, but apparently I took them to heart and dropped 7 pounds.  That is, until a catastrophic event occurred in 2003 which sent me on another upward move.  The guidance of a counselor helped me during the next year which was the most stressful I had had up until that point in my life.  In 2004, I began dating again and joined a water exercise class at the local rec-center.

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    At the beginning of 2005, I began swimming regularly and keeping track of my laps (miles).  By the summer I had reached 100 miles in the pool!!  I also dropped 12 pounds.  That is... until I was being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis that same summer.  I took lots of steroids and underwent months of physical therapy.  I stopped swimming and I started to gain weight.  Lots of weight.

     

    I gained 34 pounds in four years.  Both my neurologist and rheumatologist advised me to lose weight in order to benefit my overall health and the effects of my diseases.  I think that it was a physical therapist I was seeing in the winter/spring of 2009 who helped to give me back some confidence and showed me how to care for my body.  I lost 11 pounds in 2009 which brings us to the beginning of THIS year.

     

    The chart has taken a serious downturn this year which is great!  I’ve lost 36 pounds in 7.5 months.  I’ve lost 47 total since 2009.  I’m halfway to where I should be which is about 190 pounds for starters.  Actually anything below 200 pounds would be awesome!  It would be a 30-33% loss (depending upon which starting point is measured).

     

    As I travel back in time with my weight, I must continue to keep visualizing a new me.  A lighter, more emotionally agile, me.  A me which is off the charts.  :)

    Way off the charts!!

     

    August 15, 2010
    Weight: 237.0 lbs
    Blood Pressure: 121/78
    Pulse: 72

     

    August 22, 2010
    Weight: 235.7 lbs
    Blood Pressure: 110/70
    Pulse: 63

     

    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.