Honesty. . .The Overrated Virtue
I had just completed an annual physical on Miss Ruby, a feisty eighty-year-old retired nurse, when she turned to me and snapped, "Dr. Sally, why have you let yourself get so fat? If I had let myself go like that, you'd be all over me. You need to lose weight." Ouch! I wanted to slither into the red plastic Sharps container in the corner of the exam room--if only my lardy legs, blubbery belly, and chubby chins would fit--for even pokes from contaminated needles beat the humiliation of her scolding eyes. Must she be so blunt? Even fat female physicians have feelings. And talk about role reversal--she, the patient, was telling me, the physician, to lose weight? Awkward.
Yes, I admit it. I've put on twenty-five pounds in the last fifteen years and it isn't pretty. So hang me from a pole (preferably one where the rope is made of link sausages and string cheese), but not until after my Saturday lunch date at the Puffy Muffin. I know I need Weight Watchers. And Jenny Craig. And a whole lot less French Silk ice cream, but I don't need some eighty-year old whippersnapper pointing it out.
Unfortunately, Miss Ruby wasn't the only one. A month ago, another patient inquired, "When is the baby due?" I bit my tongue from snapping back, "You're no Skinny Minnie yourself, sister!" I didn't know whether to cry because she thought I looked pregnant, or to jump for joy that, at fifty-three, she thought I still looked young enough to get pregnant.
My mortifying encounter with Miss Ruby was unfortunately not over. As she exited the exam room, she wagged a finger in my face and said, "I expect to see a whole lot less of you at my three-month follow-up."
Honesty, I've decided, is an overrated virtue!