Thursday, March 18, 2010

Honesty - the best policy?

NewFNP had a bullcrap day at clinic. Sometimes that happens - no big whoop.

But then sometimes a patient says something that just sends newFNP into a personal tailspin.

NewFNP has cared for this patient for years. She's anxious and depressed, but kind. She's very thin and forever trying to gain weight. NewFNP, on the other hand, has the metabolism of a stoned hypothyroid tree sloth. Thus, the only amount of exercise and diet that allows her to be truly thin is an amount unattainable when working full time, visiting her elderly grandma, walking her dog, shopping and doing all the other activities that make newFNP newFNP. And because newFNP is a thirty-something year old white girl who has been conscious of her weight since the days of Seventeen magazine and Forenza, her issue with her weight is both omnipresent and frustrating.

So when her well-meaning patient told newFNP that she was "mas gordita," newFNP wanted to cry in the room. She felt as though she had been punched in her doughy lady belly.

NewFNP supposes that perhaps it's good that her patients feel so comfy cozy with her as to comment on her habitus. But damn if it doesn't feel badly to have her major issue voiced in an exam room. It feels more than badly - it pretty much ruined her GD day. Maybe newFNP should go on Kirstie Alley's TV show with her, sans the Scientology of course.

For crap's sake, her own PMD didn't even call newFNP chubby.



Kimberly said...

I don't know if this will be helpful or's never easy when people trip over our triggers like that (and I say 'our' quite consciously, as a 40-something woman with weight and body issues)... but 'gordita,' doesn't carry the same connotation in Spanish as in English. The literal translation is problematic, but she was probably complimenting you... I think where I've put it in my head when my pts/clients (I'm a medical social worker) say that about me is that it's a term of affection (the ones who don't like me never seem to use it).

Again--not sure if that's helpful at all. Sorry it threw you.

Elle said...

I know how you feel to some extent. I recently started to break out and people are offering all sorts of random suggestions, as if I don't have access to the internet, cash monies, or a mirror. Ahhhh!

As someone who is a first-generation American, I will say this: A lot of cultures tend to offer their opinion on a person's appearance and genuinely feel as if they are being helpful and eye-opening. Despite my awesome cultural sensitivity, this sort of thing still made me sick to my stomach. When I would go to India and extended relatives would touch my face without asking and suggest three or four pureed roots to use on my blemishes. Urgh!

Anonymous said...

New FNP, I agree with Kimberly. I'm not Hispanic but have lived with lots of 'em in Texas and "gordita" is actually kind of an affectionate term. I'm sorry, though, that she thought it was OK to say it to you. I'm sure she thinks you're a wonderful healer or she wouldn't keep coming to you.

k. emvee said...

I have no advice for you here that hasn't already been said - but this rockets me right back to my time spent studying abroad in Kenya where I was told very affectionately, "Look at you! So young, and already so fat!" And just because I knew intellectually that they were telling me they thought I looked great and healthy (as opposed to skinny and therefore malnourished), it didn't make it any easier.

NPSROCK said...

I hear you loud and clear. I mean, what kind of culture calls their fat kid "Gordo"??? If I called my kid "Fatso" on a regular basis, someone would report me to CPS! I'm tired of being told I need to learn "cultural competence". Why can't these folks be expected to show a little respect for our culture!