They are pretty powerful things in our life.
Being a “captain” on a team, earning my doctorate, the first time I was called an attorney… daughter, sister, friend…
And of course the most important labels in my life… when I became a Mrs. and a Mom.
Those are the good labels, the one we strive to get, to earn, to become.
And then there are the labels that kill our spirit, that weigh on our mind, that bring us down like an anchor. Names we are called, stereotypes people apply to us.
For me, one label that always bothered me was not some name called out on a playground or anything like that… rather it was a medical diagnosis that was always listed first in all my medical records….
This diagnosis has been in my medical chart for a long time. “Patient is a 35 year old, morbidly obese female…” was always the first sentence before every visit. Yep that’s the first thing the medical world knew about me.
Morbid. That word always drummed up thoughts of death, a constant reminder that my weight could kill me.
I spent several years ignoring this diagnosis. I purposely governed myself in doctors appointments like a little kid watching a scary movie through barely open fingers over their face. When I would stand on the scale I kept my eyes on the cheap art on the walls.
Out of sight… out of mind.
But I remember when I first time I really “saw” this diagnosis. There I was on the crinkly paper in the ER, my husband on a chair across from me playing some game on his phone. My kids home with my Mom as I once again had to go to the ER for a strange stomach pain I was having. By this time we were used to these visits as they happened yearly. I’d get this unbearable pain and end up in the ER. They would run tests but they always came back just fine and I would simply be sent home with pain pills to ride out the storm.
Only this time I wasn’t handed just a prescription.
I was 37 years old with a busy job, three kids at home waiting on me and I was handed a CT that showed “something” on my pancreas.
“We aren’t sure what it is” the young doctor told us jolting both my husband and I up. “It’s most likely nothing” he quickly smiled. “Due to your (cue kind doctor averting his eyes from my eyes) weight it is likely a fat deposit, but we need you to have it checked out to see what it is”.
Of course a young Mom heard nothing of that after he said there was something on my pancreas. I instantly was scared.
What followed next was a few months of a lot of fear and a referral to a hospital for a procedure to put me under and check my pancreas.
It turned out to be nothing… a fat deposit around this “morbidly obese” female pancreas.
But That was it. I had enough of that diagnosis. It was time for the medical community to know me for something else.
So fast forward two years to yesterday. Same hospital, only this time my husband and I were there for a routine visit again to try and solve my mystery stomach pains. I had not been to this hospital since my procedure.
The nurse sat down at the computer and pulled up my electronic medical record. Only this time I didn’t look at the cheap art. No way… I was at the edge of my seat looking over her shoulder. Did I finally lose the dreaded label?
Up came the screen… my diagnoses on the right side listed in order. And of course the first one was that damn label.
We meet again… damn “Morbid obesity”.
Only this time the nurse looked at it… looked at me and said “Wow… well this needs to be fixed!”
I don’t think that nurse knew that the sound of her back space on her keyboard was probably the best sound I have heard in a long time.
I sat there watching each letter of “Morbid obesity” disappear on the screen. In its place was typed “Large volume weight loss” and beneath it “Morbid obesity, resolved”.
131 pounds lost… 36.7 percent of my former self gone. The red “morbid obesity” part of the BMI chart not even close to the pleasant green color I now fell in.
Now That’s one label I’ll never forget.