What’s with the Big Chair?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • So I finally dragged myself to a visit to the internist for a very, very overdue physical.  Despite the fact that I am really on top of my health, eating well and exercising, I know a yearly checkup is part of a healthy lifestyle, especially if you want to catch early signs of disease. 

     

    The checkup went well, but we determined that I was due for a bone density evaluation, and some standard blood screenings.  Eager to get these items off my checklist, I hastened to the bone screening, and set up a blood test appointment at a local lab where I periodically check my thyroid levels.

     

    I was somewhat surprised to walk into the lab office exam room where they actually draw blood, to find a chair at least 3 times the size of a standard chair waiting for me.  It wasn't there the last time I checked in.  

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    If you have ever watched Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In or its famous re-runs, there was a recurring skit with Lily Tomlin sitting in a larger-than-life rocking chair.  That’s exactly what came to my mind.  I immediately realized that the chair swap was to help accommodate the larger body habitus of many patients presenting to the lab. 

     

    Still, the size of the chair was a bit shocking. 

     

    Coincidentally, I had just had a conversation with a doctor who told me that a patient presented to his hospital’s emergency room needed an emergency CT scan.  There was no way the regular scan platform could handle the patient who was well over 400 pounds. 

     

    The nearest CT scan that was being considered?  The local zoo. 

     

    I don’t offer this to be funny or unkind – it was a real situation that called for creative thinking.  I’m not sure they followed through, but I do know that the option was considered.  I assume hospitals and medical practices across the country are coping with this new norm.

     

    It’s no news that hospitals are now ordering new toilets that anchor to the floor and not the wall because of the need to accommodate heavier patients.  Wheelchairs now come in several sizes and the larger sizes are becoming the new standard. 

     

    We’ve all heard complaints about the unfairness of asking a person who is larger to sit in a standard theatre or airplane seat – and the discomfort of the person sitting next to them.  And if you routinely walk through mall stores, there is a shrinking petite section and a growing plus-size section in many department stores. 

     

    Still, that chair in the lab really gave me pause.  I grew up in a family of big people, big women.  My mom struggled with her weight for most of her life.  She was clinically obese and yet I do not remember her ever being so large that she needed special furniture or accommodations.  She still seemed to fit the set standards of society. 

     

    I am now hearing and seeing trends that indicate the growing need to address the new standard of weight and size.  I know the trend worries many professionals in the health sector.  As we grapple with ways to turn the weight tide, we have to meet the needs of the larger person.   And we certainly have to do it in the medical setting.


  • Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch?  Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets daily @HealthGal1103. Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.  

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    Follow my blogs at: http://www.healthcentral.com/profiles/c/86903

     

Published On: September 25, 2013