A guy named Henry needed to make some forever lifetime changes. He entered my office for diet counseling and told me that his weight was over 400 pounds. The fact that he kept the appointment and admitted his weight was a big accomplishment for Henry.
Prior to his arrival, I had a chance to look over his medical record. It was not pleasure reading. The list of his diagnoses was a master plan for disaster. Heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, mental issues, vision changes and a few more.
When he followed me to my office and waddled to the chair, he was out of breath even though I walked slowly. He sat down with a sweaty sigh and smiled at me. Henry announced that I was his last effort to lose weight before he went for stomach stapling, otherwise, bariatric surgery.
His story was sad. His story was complicated. His story needed more than a planned diet and a discussion about portion sizes.
While assessing his needs, I recognized that he understood the need for change. He told me about the difficulties that he experiences because of his weight. Discrimination angers Henry and his physical limitations upset him.
A few days before even meeting Henry, I found a quote that might come in handy. I copied it on neon pink paper and put it with Henry’s medical chart.
As Henry continued to detail the trials and frustrations associated with his obesity, I opened his chart to record the facts. My hand quickly went up to bring him to a halt. He stopped mid-sentence. Our eyes locked and I slowly smiled. Henry sniffed and rubbed the tears from his eyes.
I politely announced, “Look what I found, Henry.” He glared at the pink piece of paper as I held it up for him to study. He read the words one by one: “If you always do what you always done; you will always get what you always got.” Henry read it again, this time even slower. “If you always do what you always done; you will always get what you always got.”
Henry laughed. He was a high school English teacher, and he told me that that was horrible grammar. I agreed.
Then Henry asked if he could have this piece of neon pink paper. He wanted to put it up on his kitchen wall. He wanted to make more copies for his bedroom, his living room, his bathroom, his classroom, even his garage.
I gave it to him. Then I made another appointment for Henry to return the next week. We had a lot to discuss; specifically, diet planning and portion size.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a Diabetes Self-Management Training Program at Dunlap Community Hospital, Orrville, Ohio. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.