The short version for those who don’t have much time:
- Where I live, there are 3 Great Voices of Authority: God, Doctors, Football.
- Single words, short phrases, or simple sentences, have The Power to change lives.
- When something stupid, thoughtless, inconsiderate, moronic, or potentially harmful falls out of a mouth – even the mouth of one of the 3 Great Authorities – you have not only the Right but a Duty to speak up.
- Speaking up at times like #3 can change lives, too.
The longer version:
Two years ago, at our first visit, the cardiologist looked at my husband (who was then a recent recipient of a stent in his heart) and said, “You’re lucky. You know how you’re going to die.” I sat there and said nothing, in part because I was struck speechless with such a stupid thing being said by one of The Great Authorities, and in part because this was a conversation between my husband and this doctor to which I was a mere observer who didn’t want to risk the doctor “taking it out on my husband.”
Today, this same cardiologist walks into the room, and instead of saying “Wow, you look great. I can tell you’ve been seriously exercising” or anything comparable, he immediately starts hammering away at Andy about nutrition and eventually says (and I quote), “If you want to live to be 88, you need to watch what you eat and to cut down on the fried foods.”
Having heard enough, I take Andy’s face in my two hands, look into his retinas, and say, “Baby, we’re shooting for at least 98, okay?” When he nods, I turn my attention to the cardiologist . . .
“You deal with hearts,” I say, “I deal with psychology and emotions, the driving forces in life.” And before I can finish that train of thought, he says, “I deal with more psychology than you might think.” I am both relieved and borderline thrilled to know he realizes that.
“Then you understand about the power of suggestion,” I tell him. “When you put a finite number on how long my husband or anybody else, for that matter, will live, you plant a seed that might grow into a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what say we leave out the finite numbers and ages and stick to concepts, information, and most important of all: encouragement and support.” I guess it comes as no surprise to hear that my contribution quickly brings the visit to a close.
To his credit, though, when the cardiologist shakes my husband’s hand as we exit the office, he says, “Okay, we’ll shoot for 108. Or 109. Yes, 109. Let’s make it an odd number.”
And me? I just smile and say, “I like odd.”
[ :: ]
Jeanne Hewell-Chambers has long owned and seldom apologized for her authority issues.
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