Making contact: Experiences from the weight loss surgical clinic

Nicole M. Glenn


Weight loss surgery is an increasingly common treatment for medically defined class III obesity and related comorbidities. A rise in demand has resulted in progressively longer waiting times in Canada, lasting upwards of ten years. Extended surgical waits impact the lives of people pursuing the procedure, no doubt – I wonder in what way? What is the experience of waiting to have weight loss surgery? I sought to explore this question using a human science approach to phenomenology of practice. It is within this broader inquiry that this particular text is situated. The multiple interviews I conducted with people who were awaiting surgery revealed the experiential import of contact, of touch, metaphorical and otherwise, to the overall waiting phenomenon. In this paper I consider this particular dimension of the wait – I question the experiences and meanings of contact that occur within the pre-weight loss surgical period. I reflect on the possible ethical and clinical significance of contact within this particular context while focusing on the relational aspect of the phenomenon, particularly between patient and clinician. Ultimately this deeper understanding of the experience as it is lived may elicit new and possibly more tactful ways of being with, of making contact – as in touch, hearing from or connecting with – within weight loss surgery-related clinical encounters.

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ISSN: 1913-4711