The most powerful question to ask your doctor

The first time I used this question probably had something to do with purchasing tires or service for my car.  (Not what you were expecting?!)  It was my first time doing whatever it was with that car out on my own and my dad coached me – ask the service guy if this is what he would do to the car if the car belonged to his wife or daughter. 

I can remember being really uncomfortable asking but then amazed when the service guy’s attitude completely changed. 

He went from being all business to discussing the recommendation with me and explaining why he thought it was the best thing.  And then he looked me squarely in the eyes and said, yes, he would do the same for his wife or his daughter. 

The same shift happens a lot when I ask my doctor the same question after they have recommended a treatment or medication.  It asks the doctor to switch from doing a job to taking care of a person.  That’s a big shift in a really short period of time – especially when most providers don’t have more than 5-6 minutes with a patient. 

There is some strategy to using this question.  Consider the age of the doctor and the age of the patient – maybe it is more meaningful to ask if they would do the same for their mother or grandmother.  Maybe asking about a sister would be more appropriate.  (And, guys, if you’re reading this ask about fathers and brothers…make it relevant!)  My hope is that most doctors would understand the motivation behind the question even if the life circumstances aren’t an exact fit. 

And I’ll go ahead and throw this out there – I ask this of female doctors I see, as well.  It sounds like the question is trying to activate the paternalistic side of the relationship but that is not the goal.

The goal is to engage any doctor on a more empathetic and compassionate level. 

And don’t think there is any situation where this question doesn’t apply. 

Is the recommendation to start hormone replacement for menopausal hot flashes?  Or maybe a new blood pressure or cholesterol medication?  Or surgery?  Maybe it’s an anti-depressant or a referral for counseling…

The question applies in every one of these situations.  You want to know if the doctor would make the same recommendation for someone very close to them. 

As with most things in a relationship, there are no promises with this one.  But it can be a really powerful tool to use the next time you see your doctor! 

Sixty-Second Self-Care Tip...

Having a hard time with mood these days?  You’re not alone!   One thing to try is making music.  Sing, hum, whistle, beat out a rhythm with a couple pencils…whatever appeals to you.  It can even simply be listening to your favorite music.  Music ties into the dopamine reward system in your brain and boosts the “happy” hormone, not to mention it activates your Vagus nerve and increases the safety signals in your body. 

And if fatigue is a bother, check out my free resource all about fighting fatigue with true self-care - just click here!


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60-second self-care, music, self-advocate, Self-Care Strategy


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  1. A very good and thoughtful way to turn a Dr’s consult into sincere advice. Thanks for the suggestion Dr O.

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