I’ve been examining patients 20 years now, and I’ve been able to gauge America’s growing trend toward obesity by how difficult it is to fit my patients into a slit lamp.
A slit lamp is the microscope that sits on a swinging table that I use to examine the front of a patient’s eyes. Back in the late 80s when I was starting out, I hardly ever recall having difficulty getting a patient into one of those. But over the years, the increasing girth of the average American belly often has a patient forcing themselves against the table and gasping for air as I try to do an exam.
I’ve altered my technique a bit to compensate and often have the patient scoot up on the edge of the chair and lean forward so that gravity takes over and the tumor, er, I mean stomach, drops toward the floor out of the way.
And it’s not just your stereotypical Southern fried chicken-eating, Budweiser-guzzling guy either. Most of my women patients are overweight too, and with the larger bellies come larger breasts which make for some awkward moments when it comes time to use the slit lamp. Normally, I try to size up the situation, so to speak, before I start and make the adjustments so as to avoid needless embarrassment. Some patients notice what I’m doing and figure out why and are obviously red-faced, others just laugh it off.
As it turns out, slit lamps aren’t the only pieces of equipment which are begging to be biggie-sized. The retired ragin’ Reverend and now undertaker Greg (aka, “Stoogelover”) visited Disneyland recently and noticed (with no small amount of rejoicing) that the ride “It’s a Small World” was closed for repair.
He overheard a worker tell someone the reason: The boats were “dragging bottom” because the average American bottom is so much bigger than it was in the 1960s when the ride was built.
Folks, if that worker is correct, then that’s sad (or maybe “saggy?”). We have no business pointing our fingers at anyone over food shortages when “average” Americans seem to think that they absolutely can’t get by on less than 3,770 calories a day.
“It’s a Small World?” Not anymore.