I am overweight.
I don’t write this to fish for compliments or evoke pity or cries of “Shut up. You are not.” I am. I get on a scale, I see the number, I put on clothes and see how they look–I have incontrovertible data that I am overweight.
So when I go to the doctor and she tells me I need to lose weight, and she gives me all the tools I could possibly need and I tell her I will try–really try–to lose a few pounds, what happens when I don’t?
More specifically, what happens to my doctor?
Does my doctor get reviewed by the chief of internal medicine to try and figure out why I, her patient, have not lost enough weight? What if I lose 5 pounds but not 15? Does my doctor get a little note in her personnel file about her failure to do enough for me in my quest for health?
Let’s say my doctor pulls me into her office and asks, “I notice you’ve stagnated at the same weight for the past two years. While maintaining is generally a good thing, at your weight, it’s not. We have to get that number to go down! So tell me what you do.”
And I tell her that when I get home it’s either too cold or I’m too tired or there’s too much good TV on and I don’t want to go to the gym. So she gives me home exercises to do. But I counter with the fact that I live on the 2nd floor of an apartment building and I don’t want to upset the downstairs neighbors or wear out my carpet.
So she calls my employer, who tells her, “Well we have three treadmills, two ellipticals and a brand new weight room she is welcome to use anytime!” And my doctor sends me an email: “I spoke with your principal and he said you are welcome to use the gym at your school! Now you don’t have to worry about cold or neighbors and can get in your workout!”
But I tell her that it’s too much hassle to pack a gym bag and I feel uncomfortable working out in front of students. So she sighs and says, “Okay then, let’s look at your diet.”
My diet is actually pretty healthy, especially if you take out the occasional chocolate binge or Chick-Fil-A run. “Maybe cut it to one piece of chocolate a day, and challenge yourself to not eat fast food for two weeks?” she suggests.
And I think, “Yeah, I can probably do that.” Until I decide I can’t, after a particularly stressful day and I choose to grab an order of large waffle fries on the way home.
What happens to my doctor then? She has given me opportunity after opportunity to lose weight, with multiple tools, has contacted the person who is the boss of me to seek support, and still, nothing. No results.
What happens to my doctor when I refuse to do what she asks, these things that will prolong and/or save my life?
I’m asking for a friend….
Because if you swap out all of this and replace “doctor” with “teacher” and replace “principal” with “parent” and replace all the health related language with homework or tests or reading or writing or math practice, what would you say then?
What happens to a teacher when her student refuses to do what she asks, refuses to take advantage of the resources she’s provided, these things that will give the student access to education, an exit from poverty and a leg up in life?
If I never lose another pound the rest of my life, my doctor will not lose her job. She has done everything she can.
If my students fail, though, my job could be in jeopardy.
How does that make sense? Seriously. Asking for a friend.