They tell a lot about poor healthcare delivery.
Mom was around 5'6" tall and was always fit. She lost a lot of weight because of bulbar-onset ALS. We called it her Gandhi weight. She was so very thin. At a neurology appointment the helper took her to the scales on the way to the exam room. She wrote something secretively on the chart. I asked her how much Mom weighed. She said 168. My reaction -- "Oh, come on." She said, "What's wrong with that?" I said, "Look at her." The helper was not happy, but we got another weigh-in at about 50 pounds less. Had I not asked, Mom's medical record would have been dangerously wrong.
I had a weigh-in last winter at a busy doctor's office. I had my backpack and coat with me, neither of which I wanted to include with my body weight. The helper said, "Step on the scales." I looked around for a place to put my stuff. She offered no option except the floor. I said, "You really need a hook next to the scales." Silence. I said, "You know they sell them at Home Depot." She snapped back, "I can't do that." Next year I think I'll take one that sticks on the wall because I didn't detect any initiative on the healthcare worker's part to fix a problem.
This isn't my story, but it's a must-read. And the story isn't really about the scales, but in a way it is.
When I read Sarah's 65-pound story, I thought of Mom's Gandhi weight. Then I thought of our vet's office. It's pretty basic. It's not a fancy place. They have a scale at floor level with a huge metal plate that the big dog walks onto. It's simple. I'm thinking that kind of scale would work for a wheelchair. Drive it on, read the weight, subtract the weight of the wheelchair. Voila. Why would an ALS clinic not have a scale like West 56th Street Veterinary Hospital's?
I know it's hard to fix healthcare, but please, it's not that hard to get the weigh-in right.