Posted by: gaylejervis | January 11, 2011


Our three -year old grandson was having lunch with Greg and me and Greg was talking to him when suddenly Jackson looks up from his food and says,   “Grandpa, what you talking about?”  I began laughing and said, “I often wonder that myself.”

Later in the day, Jackson and I were upstairs putting together an Alphabet Puzzle when he said, “I’ve got a ‘P,’”  or at least that is what I thought I heard.  A moment later, he said, “Grandma I’ve gotta pee.”  Same words strung together, but an entirely different meaning.  Just as he started to pee, I rushed him off to the bathroom.

Later when we were sitting at the kitchen table doing yet another puzzle, Jackson said, “Grandma I’m peeing.”  Just as I began saying, “What?” he is repeating the words.  However, I do not need to hear those words again since I look down on the chair to see pee quickly pooling on the chair.

Well,  I thought those three incidences give three great pointers on effective communication:

First, when you don’t understand what the other person is saying, don’t pretend you do.  Just look the person in the eye and ask forthrightly, “What you talking about?”

Secondly, make sure you listen attentively so that you know the difference between a ‘P’ and a “pee.”  You could be making assumptions that you are both communicating about the same thing and you may be very wrong!

Thirdly, when words fail to communicate effectively and quickly, some sort of visual is helpful!

I was thinking that those three principles could work very well when I am sitting in the doctor’s office.  Sometimes, I don’t like to acknowledge that I don’t always understand what he is saying, or why he is suggesting a particular treatment protocol.  Often I leave his office unable to repeat what he has said – probably because I didn’t fully understand.  I should imitate Jackson and look him in the eye and say, “What are you talking about?”

Secondly, I shouldn’t make an assumption that my doctor really understands what I am saying when I describe my symptoms.  I may say I am “extremely tired” and he may think, “Aren’t we all?”

Thirdly, part of the problem with having CFS or Fibromyalgia is that I don’t look sick.  I know I am not the only person with this illness who is often told,  “You look good.”  Therefore, I need to find word pictures that better describe what I am experiencing.  I need to describe how my fatigue affects what I do every day.  A  word picture that comes to my mind since it hurts me not to be able to do this is that I don’t have enough energy to drive twenty minutes to visit my daughter or daughter-in – law not only because I start out being tired,   but because I know that by the time I leave them, I will  be too tired to make the drive back home.

I have great difficulty talking to doctors and articulating all my symptoms.  I am so aware that he sees patients who have  life threatening  symptoms that   I end up being apologetic and downplay my symptoms.  And  my facade that I often use with others often kicks in during my doctor’s appointment and I must  deliberately stop myself from responding to the doctor’s question, “How are you?” with the automatic “I’m doing pretty good, and how about yourself?”

To avoid setting more precursors for being misunderstood, I must again take my grandson’s lead.  The day he was visiting us,  he began repeating , “I’m a “Happy Chappy”  who is a character in a Donald Duck Cartoon.   I was trying to think of a character from a movie or cartoon to describe me, but so far I haven’t thought of one.  (I’d appreciate anyone’s input!) However I now I have a response to my doctor’s opening question by saying, “My grandson would jump up and down and tell you he is a Happy Chappy.  I must tell you I am NOT a Happy Chappy, but  I am hoping you can help me so that I will be!”


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