Taking a Stand at the Doctor's Office | Psychology Today

2022-08-01 07:36:36 By : Ms. Anna Fu

We all harbor secrets. Some are big and bad; some are small and trivial. Researchers have parsed which truths to tell and which not to.

Posted July 29, 2022 | Reviewed by Tyler Woods

I’ll tell you what it is—it is a nightmare.

Recently, I went for my annual check up with my doctor. I scheduled an appointment online, and prior to meeting with the intake practitioner, I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to get weighed. I didn’t want to know my weight, and I didn’t need it to be documented.

When I walked into the room the first thing the nurse did was escort me over to the scale. I informed her that I was not interested in getting weighed, and she proceeded to say that I could turn around so that I wouldn’t have to see the number. I hesitated, yet she just stood there waiting. A wave of emotions took over me and I felt unanticipated pressure, need I say bullying, and reluctantly got on the scale.

I hated myself for backing down. I had rights. I had a choice, but the overall assumption that I must weigh myself or else I might not be seen for my examination kept me compliant. When I got off the scale I became angrier. I wasn’t heard. No means no. Right?

Afterwards I watched her input the number and I couldn’t let it go. I asked her why it was necessary to get weighted and she proceeded to tell me that the doctor needed to know my BMI. I became more irate. I replied, “If I don’t want to be weighed I should be legally allowed to respect my body and my choice.” I didn’t know my legal rights and wondered if I did decline if she would have asked me to leave, and I’d lose my appointment. At that point, what was the difference? It was already done and I just wanted to get the whole appointment finished.

Disappointed in myself, and annoyed with the whole situation, I had no idea it was only going to get worse. When I was escorted to the examination room I was informed that I only had to take off my clothes from the waist down. More confusion struck me. When I initially booked the appointment and it asked me the reason for my visit, I wrote pap smear. When I got there to sign in at the front desk, I specified that I was there for my annual full body examine. I figured if there was an issue with my request I could sort it out with the doctor upon her arrival.

The next thing I know a physician extender walked into the room. I had never heard the term before and it sounded like a euphemism for a lower-level provider. I am sure there are some reputable ones out there, but this was my experience.

So, here once again, I was in a position where I was worried if I didn’t do the examination, I would have to rebook an appointment and come back another day, which the physician extender confirmed. First, I told that the doctor would see me when really a substitute affiliate was there to see me. Next, I’m told I can’t have my full body examined, but just a quick smear, and it all turned into a nightmare.

After the examination, I said I wanted everything tested, to which she agreed. She said I would have some spotting, which she claimed to be normal. None of my previous doctors ever told me, nor did I ever experience any bleeding in the past. Once she left, I jumped off the table, grabbed a paper napkin and blotched the area. There was no minor bleeding, there was full-on blood. I’m out. I swiftly gathered my belongings and jetted out the door.

This spotting continued into the next day, and I phoned the office see if I should be worried, but again I was told that spotting was normal. By the third day the blood went from a red to a brown hue, so I figured it meant that the stabbing effects were ending.

The following week I called to find out the results of my labs and I was informed that she didn’t request all the tests we had agreed upon. It was too late to re-run the test, and I would have to come back in.

When I got off the phone I googled “physician extender” and it was defined as the following: "A provider specially trained and certified to provide basic medical services under the supervision of a licensed physician. Physician extenders may order tests and make referrals related to the member's medical needs."

I wondered if this was the result of some failed and compromised health care system? Was this because I didn’t have a PPO, so I am forced to work with a HMO establishment already in place? Was this because I was so bogged down, depleted, and at such a loss for words during the appointment that I didn’t stand my ground on not getting weighed, nor assert myself on the status of my examination? Was I to blame?

Yes to all of it. However, I take more responsibility in the matter because I didn’t advocate for myself. I felt awkward and ended up acting like an insecure teenager going to my first appointment. But it’s not all my fault. The level of sensitivity to my needs as a consumer was not met, and there was zero consideration for my preferences.

When I got home I realized I was not going to put myself in a similar situation again. I will know the specific terminology I need when I book an appointment and stand my ground. I’ll know my rights as a consumer before I succumb to standing on a scale.

Erica Loberg graduated from Columbia University. She is a published poet and author of Inside the Insane among many other works.

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We all harbor secrets. Some are big and bad; some are small and trivial. Researchers have parsed which truths to tell and which not to.