Take on obesity one bowl at a time

Take on obesity one bowl at a time

Practice in the real world
May 01, 2005

The Anecdotal Epiphany
Dr. Randy Miller looked across the exam table. Sitting in the corner was a pair of pumpkins. At least they were shaped like pumpkins. These pumpkins had legs and were actually Mr. and Mrs. John DeArmo. The DeArmos had been sitting placidly albeit precariously for about 10 minutes on the two relatively smallish fiberglass seats in the exam room

When Dr. Miller opened the exam room door, the couple started to move around anxiously within their sea of clothing and unidentifiable paraphernalia. Theoretically, somewhere underneath in the same corner were two cats — Killer and Frankenstein. In the far corner, two cat carriers lay askew — one contains a fresh and aromatic deposit from Killer.

"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. DeArmo," Randy chimed.

Although they did not answer, they smiled and constantly shook their heads in deference to Dr. Miller. This was just one of their unusual ways. The DeArmo's were, if anything, wonderfully friendly people. A sudden turmoil ensued in the corner as the overtly plump couple grappled to find their cats. Several seconds passed until it was realized that both cats had unknowingly retreated to the backs of their carriers. Killer's paws were now undoubtedly painted with the fresh coat of feline "do-do".

In order to save at least 15 minutes, Dr. Miller took immediately to the task of extracting cats from their respective sanctuaries. Frankenstein came easily despite his enormous size and girth. Killer was a chore. Somehow she had been able to wedge her claws into the plastic in such a way that extraction was hopeless. Randy had to dissemble the carrier in order to expose Killer. Since the DeArmos had remained seated during all of this and did not try to help, Dr. Miller estimated that he had saved another 10 minutes of exam room time.

Janet Fritz had entered the room somewhere in the interim and was providing support for the multi-tasking event in progress. Janet was a longtime technician for Dr. Miller and was used to these scenarios.

Finally, at least 50 pounds of cat lard and savagery appeared before them on the exam table . They were here for "shots".

Randy hesitated. Did he dare bring up the weight of these felines as he had mistakenly done last year and the year before? He decided to wade into the issue at hand. After all, he considered himself a good vet.

After a lengthy presentation of the medical facts, the following conversation ensued:

"Dr. Miller, they hardly eat a thing," cried Mrs. DeArmo.

"They only are fed once per day in the morning, and I fill it up again each morning!"

"Do you feed them any treats?"

"We give them some cheese and crackers every night — but not very much?"

And then finally, the inevitable question arrives (this question if answered truthfully requires some careful history taking, some outside research and multiple calculations): "How much should we feed them?"

Dr. Miller realizes that he started it and now must finish it.

After a considerable amount of time is spent with the calculator and some cardboard feeding guides, Dr. Miller comes back in and makes his recommendations. These include exercise and a change to a prescription diet.

After a few moments, Mrs. DeArmo exclaims that they are already on a "light" diet from the store, and they cannot get the cats to move, much less exercise.

Dr. Miller continues to make his case and starts to become quite demonstrative in the exam room. While in full battle mode, he suddenly looks again at the pumpkins on the other side of the room and a small balloon deflates in his mind and realizes he had been defeated before he even began. He decides to finally finish his war dance and give the "shots".

Mr. DeArmo starts to nod his head and slightly bows as they leave the room. They are happy — their cats are not.