Lou Gehrig's Disease - Motor Neuron Disease - Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Thought it had been cured by now? Still no known cause. Still no cure. Still quickly fatal. Still outrageous.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Scales Tell More Than Your Weight

They tell a lot about poor healthcare delivery.

Story I.

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.

Story II.

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.

Story III.

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.