Will the Waiter Spit In Your Soup?


You’ve heard this fear before – that if you are too demanding of your waiter, or challenge him or her in any way, then he might spit in your soup as a form of revenge.

Unfortunately, too many of us think the same of our doctors. As if, if we are difficult patients, then the doctor might metaphorically spit in our treatment soup; in other words, not provide for us what we need.

Whether or not you realize it, you may be acting as if you believe that!  You don’t ask your doctors more questions, or you don’t ask for additional clarifications or explanations. You don’t ask what treatment alternatives might exist, or don’t question a prescription, or ask about possible side effects. You smile politely, leave the exam room, and are left asking, “What were his instructions?” “How often should I take that drug?” “Which test am I supposed to get – again?”

In fairness, you may not hold back due to a fear of being difficult. Maybe you just don’t want the doctor to think you aren’t smart enough to comprehend her instructions, or you think you should have understood something and decide to try to figure it out at home.  After all, the doctor makes it clear he’s in a big hurry, and he did sigh out loud when you asked just one question, much less the six you have.

So let’s look at this another way:

The truth is, the better your relationship with your doctor, the better the outcomes for you both. Yes – that’s right – for BOTH of you.

Obviously if your health improves, no matter how benign or dire your diagnosis, then you are better off.

When your health improves, your doctor is ‘better off’ too. For one thing, he or she prides him/herself on helping you – that’s why doctors go into medicine. So your doctor feels good when your health improves. On the flip side, if something goes wrong and your doctor doesn’t help you, and in particular if new problems arise, that can become problematic for the doctor in ways you probably are not even aware, including how he/she bills your insurance company.

So, knowing that you both want to achieve good outcomes, then it will make sense that your doctor wants to be sure you comprehend well during conversations. Your doctor wants you to come prepared with answers to questions he or she asks you. And your doctor wants your buy-in on treatment, with clarity on now to proceed.

So be prepared! Answer questions completely and concisely! Write down your questions before your appointment. Ask your own questions so you’ll understand well!

And if you can’t…  forget the concept that your doctor will spit in your soup. Your doctor would never even consider providing you with care that won’t serve you well. That benefits no one.

Instead – find yourself a patient advocate; one who can go with you to your doctor appointment, can help clarify concepts and questions, can be sure you understand instructions, and can translate some of the medspeak you may hear.

By the way – doctors love advocates!  Remember, your doctor can’t go home with you after your appointment to monitor you when you aren’t in her office… but your advocate can fill those shoes as needed.  Your doctor will realize that your advocate is “boots on the ground” by your side, keeping track. Especially in cases when you are too sick to process well, or too tired to be able to keep track, it becomes win-win-win – for you, your doctor, and your advocate, too.

No – there’s no danger of anyone spitting in anyone else’s soup.  But there’s plenty to be pleased about when everyone works together to be sure your health improves. That’s peace of mind worth planning for.

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