Monday, March 5, 2012

What's in a Word?

A 17 year old who is living with me was desperately in need of a tonsillectomy. I made the choice to go through it with him even though my child bled to death, for 8 days following his tonsillectomy a number of years ago. Repeated trips to the emergency rooms were halted with the doctors saying "don't worry". Years later, I realized it is my job, as a parent, to worry and those words, used by a healthcare professional are worse than fingernails on a chalk board............... now what?

The surgeon answered all of our very suspicious questions about his history of tonsillectomies very eloquently until I asked the young man to leave the room and shared my own personal experience with the doctor. He looked me in the eye and said "I understand your concern".

Imagine my shock when the child I am caring for, on day five, began spitting up dark red blood. When I reached the surgeon by phone, he again said "I understand your concern" and again said it after he treated him at the hospital. Not until about 2 days later did I realize this physician has never used the term "don't worry".

I thought it important to share this and let people know how important words can be when there is an emotionally charged situation. 

The words "don't worry" can be seen as an order - or being told what to do (or not do). They leave no room for dialogue unless someone who is scared wants to put up a fight. Rarely will someone stop worrying because someone tells them to. They will, instead hold back their true feelings and concerns, maybe pleasing the medical professional who doesn't want to explain any more??

This surgeon was justifying my feelings. By recognizing he understood, I had no reason to pursue my concerns because he heard me.

I hope people in the medical field will throw out the words "don't worry" and try using, instead, "I understand your concern".

1 comment:

price per head said...

Excellent post. I want to thank you for this informative read, I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.