It can be so painful when we suffer with chronic pain, depression and anxiety.

We hurt – physically or psychologically. At times – not all the time, though it may truly seem that way – it feels like there simply is no relief.

Or that the brief periods of respite are followed by a cruel unpredictable wave of pain. And we don’t know what tipped the scale. Or maybe we have some inkling of what happened.

But either way – whether or not we know why were in pain – we’re often feeling vulnerable, scared, overwhelmed, hopeless, sad or angry. Maybe all of those things at once.  Or some combination.  Or perhaps those words don’t describe how we feel at all.

Maybe we’re so numb from it all that we’re afraid to feel anything.

Because we’re all different and life is always changing, I can’t know how you’re feeling right now. But I can say, as a person who’s lived with all these issues, that I have felt scared, sad overwhelmed and frustrated myself and I think it’s all par for the course.

How can we get on top of this? What can we do to take control? How can we make the pain stop, once and for all?

If I had the answer to that one, I wouldn’t be a human being. Just like you, I suffer with the same questions of how to reframe pain into a life of greater ease.

Here’s what I’ve learned – and most likely it’s nothing that you don’t already know or have heard before.

Kindness helps. What does that mean? Simply roll that word around in your head for moment.

Imagine yourself being massaged with an elixir of just the right kind of support. What does that feel like?  Breathe that in if you can. Even if your mind says “I don’t know how to do that” – just invite it along for the ride and notice your breath – as you open to what that could possibly feel like.

Sometimes we know the things we can do to help ourselves. And sometimes not so much.

Those of us who found ways of dealing with  chronic pain, depression or anxiety may fall victim to having so many strategies that knowing the things that help and not doing them has been one more way to beat ourselves up.

The thing is – this is how the brain works.   Though I can’t explain it technically, what I know about the brain is it has habitual ways of reacting to things.

And when we know what helps and don’t do it, the brain’s tendency is to say “WHY don’t you do what helps you?” which is just one more way to kick ourselves when we’re already down.   Really not helpful.

It’s so very easy and natural to get caught in the revolving door of knowing what helps to shift pain and mood instability into a giant “should”, and then use it to kick ourselves over and over again.

The antidote that works best when we “kick ourselves when we’re down” is what I call the feral animal technique. I learned this from Borat, my indoor cat who loves the outdoors.   When he runs away, I used to hunt him down with a flashlight, which only left me feeling frustrated and scared.  So I’ve learned to invite him to come home by reminding him there’s food waiting for him.

You can use the feral animal technique with yourself.   By using just the gentlest encouragement or reminder to try something different, this may be all you need to shift the pain you’re feeling in another direction.

I’ve designed Your Health Your Way with you in mind.  I’ll help you find your way to managing pain moment by moment in your daily life.

I offer a buffet of helpful techniques – in a simple, non-overwhelming way – and will support you in finding ways to get through pain, anxiety and depression, whether you go through these things occasionally or in a more chronic way.

Consider this your personal invitation to join me where there’s help and hope available for you.

Health insurance.  It’s a hot topic these days. Very hot.

I am fortunate to have comprehensive coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield.  True to form, there is a rate hike every October.

This year’s premium increase was over 30% which really put a serious dent in my budget.

So, like any good healthcare consumer, I started considering options. And gathering information.  In the process, among other things, I learned that I had been misquoted the actual amount of the increase and in fact it was roughly a 15% increase.  Considering the amount of the premium was already expensive without any increase, I continued my comparison.

Little did I know that at the end of the day, despite what the numbers told me,  I’d value my peace of mind over the potential savings I could have with a catastrophic policy and a Health Savings Account. I bit the bullet and ended up, at the last minute, keeping my comprehensive coverage.

Perhaps I channel Ralph Nader because, at my core, I am a huge consumer advocate. I can’t stand even the possibility of being ripped off about anything when it comes to money.

If I get poor service, I’m discussing it with the employee first and then the manager.  If I see an unwarranted charge on my credit card bill, I’ll be calling them to inquire.

I had to pay almost $500 to apply for the high deductible insurance while I was considering whether to make a change back in August.  Thank God I charged it to my credit card.

I’ve called Blue Cross Blue Shield 4 times and requested a refund.  Each time, I’ve been put on hold, transferred, and been told that it would be “ten business days” and then the check would be “processed.”  It is now November and . . . no check.

So, what’s a healthcare consumer to do? While talking to my friend today, I realized what many consumers do.  Give up.  Because it’s too much of a hassle.

Feeling angry, irritated and frustrated when the system doesn’t work the way it should is totally understandable.

If things worked the way they should, Blue Cross would have refunded my money without me calling in the first place.

Certainly, by the 4th time I should have my check in hand.

The insurance company is not being malicious; they’re a bureaucracy and they’re inefficient. It’s not personal.

Nonetheless, whether it’s five bucks or $500, I needed to get it back.   Since I had paid for this with a credit card, I simply called the credit card company and filed a dispute.  The charge was immediately credited back to me.  Problem solved.

What I also realized today is yet another reason why I’m offering the course Your Health Your Way. This is a class for people struggling with chronic pain, depression or anxiety to help them manage their lives moment to moment.

Frustrating experiences with merchants are just one of the many stressors that can be part of an average day. These experiences can be overwhelming and understandably cause many people (including me) to either ignore them or feel victimized.

It is these very moments which the healthcare system cannot address which often wreak havoc in our lives, increasing our physical or mental pain.

Chronic pain, anxiety and depression often carry such stigma with them that no one really wants to acknowledge them.  Instead we suffer in silence.

If you are one of those silent sufferers, I offer you hope, respect and practical support. Consider joining me – you can participate as much or as little as you like.

Many friends and family members feel frustrated and helpless as they watch a loved one suffer with the crippling effects of these conditions.  I’ve often heard others say how they wish they could “fix it” and how hard it is to see someone suffer.

I’ve been on both sides of this.  I’ve been the person suffering with chronic pain, anxiety and depression.  I’ve also watched others I care about struggle with it.

At the end of the day, we can’t take away each other’s pain. But, we can offer a listening ear, a hug, a supportive resource.

My class will help your loved one find tools that they can use to manage their health in a way that works for them.

I invite you to consider sharing Your Health Your Way with your loved one to see what they think of it.  You may be surprised by their response.

I am the proud owner of two dogs – Phoebe and Savannah – who amuse, inspire and comfort me every day. They are my very best friends.  As I let them out this morning, they horrified me by their behavior with a defenseless squirrel.  Thankfully no one was here to witness my complete meltdown.

Mid-process, my son called and said:  “What’s wrong Mom?”  I told him the grizzly story, alternating between sobbing and trying to catch my breath.  The remains were waiting for me ominously outside.

I couldn’t reconcile the love that I have for my dogs with their atrocious behavior. My son suggested I get some help with the clean up and I told him that there was no one I could ask.  I had to let the dogs out again so it was important that I handle this immediately.

How I wished someone else was here to handle the dirty work.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case so I chose to put on my big girl pants and face my fears alone.

The question I asked myself was this:  How can I make this awful situation as easy on myself as possible?  What would help me even the teeny-est tiny-est bit to get through this?

Here’s what I did.  The results were nothing short of miraculous for me.

First, I turned on the kettle to make a cup of coffee when I was done; the whistling kettle would also get me back in the house quickly.  I took the lid off the trash so that it would be waiting for me.   I grabbed a large grocery bag and lined it with another large plastic bag.  Carrying the shovel and the pooper scooper, I began cleaning up the lawn avoiding the area in question.  I found some ratty dog toys that I threw in along with some other debris in the process and finally approached the scene of the crime.  Once there, I allowed myself to scream, cry, quake, shudder and everything in between including falling into a dull silent reverence for the helpless creature.   After a few attempts and some deep breaths, it was over.

As I was coming in the house I asked myself what good could possibly come of this.

Immediately I thought of sharing this with you as evidence of what happens when we can face down our greatest demons.  To hold in my mind that my beloved dogs would do something so awful (even though I know they’re simply acting on instinct) was excruciating.  It brought up all kinds of other losses for me.

And, if I didn’t know how to ask myself the question of how I could make this easier, I could have ended up paralyzed with anxiety. Just asking myself the question somehow opened up ways to handle this that would be more merciful.

I then realized THIS is precisely why I designed my teleclass Your Health Your Way.

I was living proof of the fact that asking myself the right questions to create greater comfort and ease around this horrible situation made all the difference in my ability to move on in my day and share this powerful story.

There is so much stigma around mental health issues.  And that stigma is one of the leading reasons people who struggle with these things try and tough it out, ignore it or pretend it’s not happening.

That may work for some people.

What I offer though is a choice to face your pain and find a way through it with comfort, support and simple steps that you can apply as things happen in your life.

My class will help you see options where you may have felt helpless.  It will help you find hope, where you may have felt hopeless.

My son called later and asked me how I was doing.  I told him that I felt I had faced down one of my greatest fears.  He asked me if I felt happy.  I told him that I didn’t feel happy – but I felt empowered and independent.

My class will also help you feel empowered and independent when managing your mental health.

Dealing with chronic pain, anxiety and depression is difficult and I can’t promise you my class will make you instantly and forever happier.

But, what I can tell you is that this class will open up possibilities for independently and effectively managing your mental health in a way that works for you.

If you’re struggling with this stuff, I hope you’ll consider joining me.  If this isn’t for you, please pass it on as you never know who is silently dealing with the effects of chronic pain, anxiety and/or depression.

If you’re anything like me, I hate filling out forms.

I particularly hate having to remember the dates of past surgeries, illnesses, etc – things I’d frankly rather forget about.That is the reason that I designed the Medical History and Summary form which is part of Patient  Power.

What I didn’t realize at the time that I designed this was that the healthcare reform act would be passed. My understanding is that for healthcare providers who are accepting Medicare, the databases are being updated and all old data will be destroyed.

That is why medical providers are now requiring you to completely redo your medical history.

The other thing to remember is that no one knows your medical history better than you do. Also, no one cares more about your health that you do.

Since you are the only one who knows and cares about your health, it really is important for you to have it written down in a place that you can find it and make it as complete as possible.

Though healthcare providers do the best they can, mistakes happen. It’s no one’s fault. However, when you are the one who was keeping track of your medical history you are much less likely to make a mistake.

Picture this. Fill out your Medical History and Summary one time. Think through the dates of all of your procedures, surgeries, allergies, etc.  it’s easier than you think – pinky swear.

Update it as your situation changes.  You’ll never have to think it through again.

Take it to your provider’s office and give it to them and they will have all the information they need.  You can go to your doctor’s appointments well prepared, taking a copy of your form with you.

Instead of feeling irritated by the inefficiency of the system, you can feel organized and on top of your game.

Let me know how this works for you.

I know how hard it can be to get that FIRST opinion when you’re not feeling well. Perhaps you’re finally willing to accept that something is wrong and you need help. Or, maybe you’re so sick that you feel forced to ask for help as you simply can’t go on feeling that way. Or somewhere in between.

In any event, I know when I am willing to ask for help I really I want someone to get it right, explain it to me in a way I can understand it and fix it the FIRST time (or at least give me some hope that it can be fixed if I do some things to help myself).

We’re taught to listen to the doctor, to not question what they say, to trust their expertise. To be a good girl. To not rock the boat. To do what we’re told. It’s so easy to silence that little voice inside us – that gut feel, intuition, knowing – that says that something isn’t working for you when you want help so badly.

I know – I’ve done it more times than I can count. I’m ashamed to say I still do it – though I catch myself quicker these days. But not always.

When I had the willingness to keep my appointment for a second opinion after last week’s adventure with the hand surgeon, the benefits couldn’t be measured til afterwards. Why? Because I couldn’t know what a good fit the second doctor would be for me til – obviously – after I had met with him.

I learned so much, not only about my own health situation, but also about what helps me know I have the right healthcare provider. This healthcare provider:

Gathers Specific Information: She asks specific questions like this: “I hear you have numbness in both hands. When you have numbness in your hands, where is it? Does it wake you up at night? On the average, how many times?” She listens to my answers and asks detailed follow up questions.

  • Explains Recommendations Thoroughly: She explains EVERY test that she is requesting and answers all my questions. She doesn’t order tests without telling me why.
  • Makes Referrals to Competent Providers: She works with other providers who are also responsive to my needs, schedule things promptly and ask pointed, specific questions while listen carefully to my responses.
  • Gives Detailed Follow Up Instructions: She asks to be contacted as soon as the follow up tests are scheduled to get me back in the office to go over them.
  • Has a Support Staff That Makes Things Happen Quickly: Her staff goes the extra mile by getting me in on a cancellation as I requested and also making sure the doctor has the test results before I arrive at my follow up appointment.

NONE of these things happened with the first surgeon. And I had that gut feel that things weren’t right – though I didn’t want to admit it to myself because, understandably, I really wanted the first hand surgeon to offer me what I wanted.

I didn’t know the difference between a responsive hand surgeon and one who wasn’t until I had something to compare it to. And, I had to be willing to trust my gut that something was off. Thank God I was willing to do that.

Having said all this, people vary. What’s the right provider for me may not be what’s right for you. And your opinion is the only one that counts when it comes to getting your healthcare needs met.

If you’re struggling with something that is overwhelming and hard for you, it’s understandable if you’re frustrated, sad, angry, numb, shocked or anything in between. Permission granted to feel whatever you’re feeling . . . . and also there’s help.

There’s more than one way to deal with what’s hurting; in fact, there’s so many that that can be overwhelming in and of itself especially when you’re not feeling well.

If you choose to see a healthcare provider, go to your appointment prepared and trust your gut feeling on whether you’ve got someone who can really help you.

Here’s the most important take away for you today:

Remember . . . . though you may be in the role of a “patient”, you’re not damaged goods. You have some issues that you need help with. You’re a healthcare consumer and making a purchase for your most important client – yourse
lf.

Get more than one opinion if you have any doubt about the first one. And keep looking for help until you find the healthcare provider that’s right for you. For every provider that is inattentive, I believe there is another provider who practices with integrity and professionalism.

I’ve heard it said that you should never go to a surgeon’s office by yourself; you need a second set of ears to make sure you get the story straight.

Though I believe that’s true, what is also true is that I didn’t have someone with me today while I was at the surgeon’s office.

And you know what?   Even though I was in pain and scared and overwhelmed by the whole situation, I felt grounded and focused.

Why?  Because I had prepared for my appointment ahead of time by using my Appointment Preparation Worksheet.  It took two minutes to fill it out.  I also kept track of my medications, symptoms and medical history using Patient Power so I had all the information I needed right at my fingertips.

At a time when I felt so vulnerable, I had the tools I needed to stay on track and remember what hurts, what makes it better, and what aggravates my symptoms.

And you can have these simple tools too, and walk into your healthcare provider’s office feeling clearheaded and secure.

Here’s what happened to me:

I arrived early, filled out the necessary paperwork and was greeted promptly by a very helpful nurse who performed some initial tests.  So far so good.  However, I was thrown off track because, after explaining my symptoms and how the computer aggravated them, the surgeon said:  “You have bilateral carpel tunnel and it’s a myth that working on the computer causes carpel tunnel.”

I felt angry when he said that and I said to him, “What I’m saying to you is that my symptoms are worse when I’m on the computer, and I know that for a fact.”

He simply retorted: “And what I’m telling you is that the computer is not causing your symptoms.  The computer has nothing to do with your symptoms.”  He then went on to quote a prominent study to support his statement.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t interested in science.  I wanted help understanding why my hands hurt, what my diagnosis is and what my treatment options are.

Telling me that my symptoms, which are most intense when I’m on the computer, are not caused by the computer felt invalidating and unsupportive.

Though he may be correct and I’m sure he’s up on the latest scientific studies, this kind of information did not give me the feeling that he understood how much I use my hands for work and how this adversely affects my daily life.

This is just the kind of thing that happens to me (and lots of other people) all the time.

When I’m uptight and uncomfortable and a healthcare provider appears to be challenging me on the legitimacy of my symptoms, it’s easy to forget why I’m asking for his expertise.

(In fairness to this surgeon, I’m sure what he was trying to do was to dispel a myth about carpel tunnel and give me some data in support of his statement.  It just wasn’t a match for my needs for empathy and understanding.  And it caused me to momentarily  lose my focus about what I really wanted information on.)

Here’s what’s important for you to remember:

If you tend to get overwhelmed when you’re dealing with your healthcare provider, by writing things down you can stay on top of your game. Just the act of writing things down helps you remember them even if you forget to look at them as you’re talking.

Why?  Because writing things down gives your brain a break from remembering things. And everyone’s brain deserves a break in this very hurried world we live in.

If you are forgetful – as I am –  writing things down helps as well.

And, if you know you’re forgetful, you can train yourself to look at what you’ve written down OR go back to the office (as I did) when you forget to ask something important.

Next, when a healthcare provider is talking so quickly that you can’t take it all in, you can verify your understanding by using my materials. It’s easy to make sure you’ve understood what they’ve said correctly and a good provider will want you to understand their recommendations clearly.

Give your good brain the rest it deserves especially when you’re not feeling well.

Prepare ahead of time for your appointments, make sure you got the story straight, and then you’ll have what you need to use the healthcare system in a way that works for you.

As a Jewish Mother, let’s just say I fit the stereotype of overprotective quite nicely.   Though I know there are some things that are better left unsaid, the frustrated lawyer in me sometimes gets pretty indignant about things when I feel life has dealt my kids something they didn’t deserve. I do a fairly good job of keeping myself in check so they can learn the lessons that are available for them when things don’t go as planned . . . . . but what happened to my oldest son the other day has really got me steamed up. With his permission, I’ll share this little rant.

He has had some serious bad bike karma.  Two times now his bike has been stolen.  The first time happened while he was in college.  The second time, he loaned his bike to his roommate who went out and “forgot” to lock it up in Washington, DC.

Apparently, bike thievery is rampant there and you’re asking for it if you don’t lock your bike up in at least two places.  After collecting the money from his roommate, my son proudly purchased a new bike complete with two bike locks from Revolution Cycles in Washington, DC.   His bike is his primary mode of transportation and he made his selection carefully, being especially mindful about bike security – hence the kryptonite lock plus the cable lock recommended by the store.

Three days later, while out to dinner with his friends, he comes out of the restaurant to find his wheels and seat which were locked up with the cable lock missing. Immediately he contacted the store and shortly thereafter took everything in.

The store was completely unsympathetic, wouldn’t stand behind the cable lock that they sold him and the cost to replace the wheels and seat were almost as much as a brand new bike. When I heard this story, I went bezerk.  How could they not be sympathetic to his situation?  The bike was three days old.

The fact that this store sold him the cable lock expressly to protect his wheels and seat, and still were  unwilling to stand behind its product- which is the reason he bought it in the first place – was appalling.

My son is self sufficient financially and did everything he could to protect his property, and some idiot decided he needed his wheels and seat for reasons I’ll never understand

He said it’s a bought lesson – his next bike will be a cheap used one. I guess, given his bike history, that makes sense.

Though I agree with his conclusion, I have a big problem with Revolution Cycles and the way they handled this situation. They are out of integrity when they didn’t offer some reasonable ways to handle this unfortunate situation.  Had they offered him a discount, a refund on the lock, some used parts, or some other accommodations given the way this happened – I’d feel differently.  Their unsympathetic uncaring attitude is deplorable.

There are bigger problems in the world than a stolen bike I realize.

And since my passion is helping you make informed choices about your healthcare, I would like you to consider your relationship with your provider, and a health situation that you’re in the process of addressing. Like the bike shop I mentioned, your healthcare provider is advising you on what you need to do to take care of yourself.  I want to be sure that your needs are being met – and that you’re not being offered solutions that won’t work, much like this cable lock that turned out to be worthless.

Perhaps you’re frustrated that your provider doesn’t fully understand your situation as you’d like her to.  Maybe you’ve used my Appointment Preparation Worksheet, been as clear as you know how to be about what’s going on with you and your provider still isn’t getting it despite numerous office visits.

Just like my son who used two locks on his bike to keep it secure, you’ve done all you can to be sure your healthcare provider understands what your needs are.  Maybe you keep shelling out money and time – and you’re getting nowhere.

Or perhaps your frustration is with some of the staff who aren’t getting your messages straight, not returning phone calls or not getting your prescriptions correct.

If you’re frustrated, I get it. I’ve lived my own version of all these scenarios and I know how exasperating it can be to be doing everything possible to be pro-active about my health and still not get the attention I need costing me time, heartache and unnecessary expenses.

But, here’s where it gets interesting.

Instead of deciding that that’s just the way it is, here are a couple options:

  • Speak up: Tell your healthcare provider exactly what isn’t working for you and what you want in one sentence.  Ask them if they can help you with it?  Clarify that you understand their answer and then make a plan together complete with follow up instructions.
  • Send a Letter:  If it’s a staffing issue, send a letter factually describing the problem to the provider and suggest that they read your letter in a staff meeting.   If you want a response to your problem, let them know that.  If you just want to make them aware of it as the situation has been resolved already, you can let them know that as well.  If your healthcare provider doesn’t know how their staff is interacting with their patients they can’t correct any future problems.
  • Find Another Provider: This one is often easier said than done especially in these days where primary care providers are harder to find.   If you’ve been with your provider for a while, it’s important to weigh whether the benefits truly outweigh the burdens and whether it makes more sense to speak up or send a letter.
  • File a Complaint: This is a legitimate option where the provider’s conduct has been unconscionable and not one to undertake lightly at all.  At the same time, there’s a reason we have licensing boards, ethics boards and similar administrative agencies:  they are there so that all patients are protected from behavior that is unprofessional.  If you choose to use this option, I strongly encourage you to let your provider know that that is what you are doing and give them a chance to resolve the situation first.

I felt sad when my son decided it was time to get a cheap used bike as he couldn’t afford to keep the bike of his choice safe in the streets of DC. I want him to be able to have a nice bike and enjoy it – and this is out of my control.  He has to make the choices that are right for him and no amount of Jewish mothering will insure that his bike won’t be stolen again in the future.  I think he’s smart to cut his losses and get a cheap bike actually – though I hate to admit it.

I also feel sad whenever I hear of patient’s whose healthcare needs aren’t being met.

I do believe that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” (pardon the terrible pun) and if you aren’t getting your healthcare needs met in a way that works for you, you owe it to yourself to go back to the drawing board.  Look at your options. See if you can address the situation with your healthcare provider first.  Or, if you’d rather be done with that particular provider, figure out exactly what was missing in that relationship, get referrals from people you trust, and interview new providers before allowing them to treat you.

Are your healthcare needs being met in a way that’s working for you? If so, that makes me happy.  If not, you’re welcome to contact me privately or leave a comment and we can brainstorm on how to get your healthcare needs met in a way that’s a match for your needs.

Can We Talk??

August 25th, 2010

Have you ever been out to lunch with someone and they ask you a question when your mouth is full?  What do you do?  If you’re like most people, you probably never thought about this – and I wouldn’t think about it either – if it hadn’t been for this story someone shared to me about a recent dental visit.  But, I’ll get to that later.

Coming back to our original story here.   How do you answer a question when you’ve got a mouth full of food?

Ann Landers would say that the polite person notices your mouth is full of food and waits to ask you a question.  Or maybe she would say that you hold your hand up before responding, finish chewing and then respond.

And in this hurry up world of ours, I often find myself answering questions with my mouth full. I know – not a pretty site.  Since I love food, I tend to rush while I’m eating anyway.    If I’m answering as I’m in the midst of a mouthful, chances are good that I’ll answer the question quicker or less thoughtfully than if my mouth was empty.

Which brings me to this story about the dentist.  Have you ever noticed that the dentist asks you questions with his hands in your mouth?  Talk about having your mouth full!

I can understand when a dentist is probing for sensitive areas and has to get feedback as he’s poking around.  It makes sense that he would say something like:  “Does it hurt when I touch here?”   It’s easy to give yes or no feedback – even a grunt will do the job.

But, when they ask things like, “When did you first notice this pain in your gums?”  it’s almost impossible to fill them in on the whole story. If you’re anything like me, I struggle to give a complete response so I give them less information than I would otherwise.

The other thing that has surprised me is though I know what I am saying, it comes out pretty unintelligibly and yet they seem to get what I’m saying.  How do they do that anyway?

And when they don’t have all the information they need, it makes it harder for them to do their job.

Once I heard this little vignette, I tuned into my own dentist’s modus operandi.  I’ve been with her a long time.  I also have to say that I’m a dental nut.  My beloved Uncle was my dentist and he instilled in me the importance of good oral hygiene while I was in utero.  I interviewed my dentist extensively before deciding she was a good fit for me and my family.

Anyway, here’s what she does every time I see her.  She reviews the notes from her assistant which are on the computer, she comes and stands in front of me, asks me whatever her questions are and THEN probes around checking for sensitivity and other issues.

If she asks me something I can’t answer fully, I stick up my hand and let her know.  Why?  Because I want to get the best care possible and I know she needs all the facts to do this.

When she’s done examining me, she tells me what she’s found without her hands in my mouth.  I make sure I understand her instructions and then we usually share a quick laugh about something to do with our kids.  I have always appreciated her – but I never knew why – until I heard this little story about dentists talking to patients with their hands in their mouth.

The world moves quickly as we all know. It’s up to us to stay connected enough with our own experiences to let our provider’s know when what they’re doing is interfering with our ability to either give information or understand what they are saying.

Here’s the important part.  If your dentist is asking you questions and you can’t respond fully as their hands are in your mouth, stick your hand up or find another way to let them know you’ve got more to say.  If a doctor is probing around and telling you about treatment options, findings, or anything else – and you’re feeling distracted by what they’re doing to you and trying to listen at the same time – say something.

You may think they don’t have time to listen or that this is no big deal – and that may in fact be true some of the time.  But, tune in to when it’s not true and when you’re censoring yourself because you’re really not in a spot to talk about what’s going on with you or you can’t listen fully.  By gently noticing this, you can trust that you’ll know when it’s time to find another way to get your healthcare needs met without “talking with your mouth full”.

Time to Say Goodnight. . . .

August 14th, 2010

Let’s pretend it’s the end of your day.  Imagine with me for just a moment – no matter what time you’re reading this, that you’re going to bed right now.

For some of you – you may go wheeeeee, that’s just where I want to be and it’s 8AM.  Or 2PM.  Or whatever.

And for others, it may be hard to find your way to bed when there’s so much to do . . . . still.

As for me, when I get to the end of most days – I have trouble giving it up. I have insomnia and it seems if I don’t start winding down by 10PM, I’m up til 2 or later.  And that really doesn’t work for me for so many reasons – it makes my life chaotic and stressful, when I know it would be easier for me if  I’d just go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Now, why is that sooooo hard for me? Well, because it involves looking  at what’s not working for me and having a lot of the “P” word. And I hate that word.

What’s the word I hate so much????  P-a-t-i-e-n-c-e. Oooooh, such a hard concept for me.

What I’m realizing is that I have to look at where my system for getting to sleep is breaking down.  Why?  So that I can find the little tweaks to make going to sleep and actually sleeping more restful and less a form of slow torture the way it has been.

So, I’m asking myself this question:

  • If I knew what to do to make it easier to go to sleep, which I do, what’s the first thing I’d try?  Hmmmm – get off the computer by 9PM comes to mind.

(this idea of “which I do” – or what I would refer to as the “gut feeling” -comes from my colleague Janet Bailey whose an ace with mindful questions~)

And then, I’m back to that “P” word again – patience.

Because I don’t want to  get off the computer by 9PM.  I love surfing the web, and connecting with other people.  The world’s such an interesting place – especially when the busy-ness of the day subsides.

Oooooh, that’s interesting.  I’m missing connecting with others.  Well, is there another way to get that met?

Yeah, and I don’t wanna do that either.

So, is there a compromise here? Is there anything I can do to make this slightly easier?

This took a while but I finally came up with committing to being off the computer by midnight. It’s a teeny tiny step towards creating more ease in my daily life and a start towards getting more rest.  And more rest will eventually lead to feeling more rested during the day.

Here’s my question for you:  If you knew what would make it easier for you to sleep, which you do, what’s the first step you’d take?

I was at the dentist today getting my teeth cleaned and the hygienist and I were chatting about our kids.  We were talking about how, at a certain point, it does no good to strategize for them – especially when they aren’t interested in our point of view.

She then was describing how her daughter, who has an hour commute, calls on the way to work most every day to talk about “this, that and the other thing”. I laughed remembering how I used to do the same thing with my Mom when I was in my 20’s and how my two boys answer most questions pretty straightforwardly – there is NO “this, that and the other thing” with them.

Which also made me laugh because “this, that and the other thing” is a pretty common way of describing what’s going on with us  a lot of times.

But, the problem with describing things generally like this or in a rambling way is twofold:

  • We may not know what we really want or need
  • Someone else may not know what we want them to do or say to them

Here’s an example.

I was talking on the phone with my friend Janet who was telling me about “this, that and the other thing”.  There wasn’t room for me to get a word in edge-wise other than an uh-huh or a quick question.  Janet wasn’t interested in what I had to say – or so it seemed.  I actually never got around to asking her because she had to go.

I’m not sure if there was anything in particular that Janet wanted me to know about or whether she was asking me to do something.

What I do know is that though I felt engaged with her story and interested in the details, I wished there was some room for me to share what was going on in my world.

The truth is – I never asked her to listen to me so I can’t know what would have happened.   And that’s no one’s fault.

So, what does this have to do with ‘this, that and the other thing”?

Here’s the point.

When we talk about things in a general way to other people when we really want them to know something specific, it’s difficult to get our needs met. In terms of taking care of your health, in my humble opinion, there is no place for “this, that and the other thing”.

There is a huge need for sharing specifics about what’s not working with us and what we want help with.  Here’s a way to do this so your healthcare needs can be met in a way that works for you.