In the family way

Break it to me gently, doc

I recently became aware of something that had really never occurred to me: there are times when it is almost as important to break good news gently, carefully, tactfully as it is for bad news.

Item 1: this great post from mimismartypants.

Item 2: my own phone call recently to a hospital department to check on some test results. Doesn’t matter what the test was, everything’s fine so yay, but I had been really worried about the whole thing for a few weeks. So I phone at the designated hour and give my details.

“Yes,” says the very efficient person on the other end, “the results are here and are normal.” Done and dusted.

And you know… that really wasn’t enough. It’s not that I needed any other information. It’s not that I needed cosseting and handholding. But with my head having been full of the “what ifs” for so long, it needed a bit of room to be made to receive the good news. It took a bit of work to make the logical connections: “normal” = good, so it’s a negative result, so I can be happy now? Is that okay? Are you sure?

I thought it was just me being silly, except when I reported the conversation to Armin, and he had much the same reaction as me. “Normal” wasn’t enough. It should be; it’s perfectly clear and unambiguous and logical; but we needed a bit more than that. Armin in fact, because he is Armin, felt quite strongly that Somebody Should Be Told that that’s not how to do things.

I’m not about to go Telling Somebody. But for the record, this, I think, is how it should be done:

“Yes,” says very efficient person, “the results are here and I’m happy to tell you that they are normal.”

Just a few extra words. So simple. But that little emotional cue would make all the difference.

It’s a weird thing to learn.

5 thoughts on “Break it to me gently, doc

  1. I really do agree with you. I’m facing the same thing myself this morning. I had an MRI for a back problem the other week and whilst they were doing it they found something else, which they told me was nothing really to worry about but I might like to tell my GP. Again, I was shocked and relieved at the same time but I wanted more information. So it is a simple “cyst” – how simple, and what is simple ? Can it change? Are you going to check…the questions go on and on..I have a list of questions to ask her this morning..I almost feel sorry for her. Plus..I have several questions relating to the actual reason I went for the MRI in the first place!. I feel like I’m falling apart!

    1. Ouch! Sorry to hear that. At least you have a good idea of what your questions are, though? I tend to be more “eeeek… I need more information, but I have no idea what to ask!” Good luck, anyway.

  2. HI.Alll went ok thank you. Nothing to worry about just needs checking up on but will most probably go on its own.
    Just need to get my spinal op out of the way..!!
    It never rains does it……?

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