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Ya Gotta Ask

By Dave Balch

Asking Questions

The e-mail came just yesterday. A friend had a friend that had been trying for 20 years (that’s not a typo… twenty years!) to get Permanent Residency status but, due to INS paperwork snafus and red tape, had been frustrated in his efforts. The issue was not whether she qualified; the issue was the paperwork.

Can you imagine being that frustrated for that long? Neither could my friend, so she sent an email to everyone in her address book asking if anyone knew anyone that could help. It sounds pretty unlikely, doesn’t it? You’d think there would be a better chance of winning the lottery than fixing a government paperwork problem with an e-mail shot out into the universe! Why bother even asking?

Guess what? A member of my motorcycle club works for the INS, in the same office where the problem has been! What are the odds? I called him and then passed his number to her.

There is a very important lesson in all of this, and here it is: if you want something, no matter how unlikely it may seem, ya gotta ask! My friend could have easily thought that it was ridiculous to send out such a message because of the overwhelming odds against getting results. But she did it anyway. Ya gotta ask!

How does this affect you in dealing with your or your loved-one’s illness? Here is an example. Chris (my wife) was scheduled for a 2 p.m. surgery and we were told that she couldn’t eat or drink anything after midnight. It’s standard; they tell all their patients that regardless of the actual time the surgery is scheduled.

That’s a big problem for Chris, as she tends to get low blood sugar if she doesn’t eat, which causes her to become faint or even to actually faint! 14 hours was waaaaaaay too long for her. Enter Dave (that’s me) who is very protective of my patient (aren’t we all?) and I said that that wouldn’t work. I reasoned that ALL surgical patients are told not to eat after midnight, so that means that if her surgery had been scheduled for 8 a.m. she would have been without food for 8 hours. If an 8 a.m. surgery required 8 hours of fasting, then a 2 p.m. surgery should also require 8 hours of fasting, which meant that she actually had until 6 a.m. to eat rather than midnight.

I asked the nurse and she said, “No. That’s what the instructions say and we can’t deviate from the instructions.”

I pressed on. “What if the doctor says it’s okay?”

“Well, then I suppose it would be okay.”

“Let’s ask the doctor.”

What do you think the doctor said? “She only needs to fast 8 hours, so as long as she doesn’t eat after 6 a.m. she’ll be okay.”

Ya gotta ask!

Why don’t we ask these things? Here are some reasons:

1.      Assumption (we think we already know the answer)

2.      Fear of appearing foolish or stupid

3.      Fear of rejection

4.      We just don’t think to ask

What can we do about this? First we have to adopt a new way of thinking, and then we have to get into the habit of thinking that way.

Let me introduce you to “Dave’s Rule of Wrong”. Simple yet powerful, you can use this tool to determine whether asking is a good idea. Ironically, the “Rule of Wrong” involves asking yourself a question: “Which would be better? To ‘ask’ and be wrong or to ‘not ask’ and be wrong?”

Which would have been better? For my friend to ask for help for her friend and been wrong (not gotten any help), or to not ask for the help and been wrong (in this case, someone did know someone who could help; had she not asked, she would have been wrong because of the missed opportunity)? It’s pretty clear that there is no harm in asking and getting no results, but harm in not asking and missing an opportunity.

Got the idea?

Sorry… I had to ask!

Photo: iStockphoto
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