(Image from a post on Watts Up With That by Willis Eschenbach found here.)
About a year ago, I went to a doctor, an internist who came very highly recommended from my nurse coworkers, from people I work with and trust. She was great, they told me. One stop shopping. She even did pap smears in her office, therefore saving a specialist co-pay. “This is my condition,” I told her, “these are my symptoms, and this is why I need to have my blood levels drawn every 90 days, at most.”
This was why I went to her.
Completely ignoring the entire reason for my visit, she proceeded to lecture me on this and that. “I’m writing you a referral for bariatric surgery,” she told me.
“But my health insurance specifically excludes it. If I were in a car wreck, and the only way to save my life was emergency bariatric surgery (crazy hypothetical, I know), I would die before the doctors could get a pre-authorization. Because it’s specifically excluded.”
She talked on and on about how I needed it, blah blah blah. Again, completely ignoring the actual reason for my visit.
“But I’m not a good candidate for it,” I replied. “If I am an emotional eater (which I am) and a compulsive overeater (which I was), it’s actually contraindicated. It’s downright dangerous and life-threatening.”
She pooh-poohed my concerns and, despite my best attempts at redirecting her to the issue at hand—the fact that I have a diagnosed autoimmune disorder which affects my thyroid (and years and years of medical files to prove it), and that THIS was my chief complaint, all else fell secondary, she kept going on and on about surgery.
I knew I’d never trust her because she did not listen.
I understand addressing things and options that, as a doctor, she is both qualified and ethically obligated to present, but, in my self-righteous opinion, those things should have been a) secondary to my actual request and b) consist of an actual discussion, as in a two-way dialogue that actually included active listening.
I had to stay with her until I found a new doctor. And it was disastrous.
By the time I found a new doctor, I was in really, really bad shape. The previous doctor had decreased my Synthroid far too much, too fast, and I was completely mentally and physically dysfunctional. I couldn’t think; I existed in an exhausted fog, incapable of even picking up my feet, so I tripped all the time.
“This is what I need,” I told him in tired tones. I looked at him and pleaded, “Don’t give up on me.”
And we talked, an equal conversation in which I spoke and he responded to my actual words, and not my diagnoses, and I listened, responding to his input. We talked for almost an hour, a thing unheard of in this day of drive-through medicine. He attended to my immediate needs and set up a long-term plan for blood tests and treatment plans.
I trusted him immediately.
The thing is, trust is everything. Trust is the foundation for all relationships. If there is no trust, there is no hope of building a sturdy relationship that can weather bad times, whether it’s with a doctor or a spouse.
The first time I met my veterinarian, Dr. Dennis Selig, it was because my cat Jitterbug was sick. My cat, who doesn’t even particularly like me, was rubbing against the vet within minutes of her rectal temperature being taken and within moments of his entering the room.
I was flabbergasted. She has a long history of not being overly affectionate, except when food or hair is involved, and absolutely hates strangers.
He talked (and talked and talked), and gave me tons of information and spent quite a bit of time with both Jitterbug and me. He listened to and addressed my concerns. I trusted him. When I received the bill, I paid it without blinking because I actually walked away from the vet’s office feeling that I received more than what I paid for.
The value was greater than the cost.
Over multiple visits, multiple animals, and multiple surgeries, my trust in him has grown. When surgery became necessary, he discussed different options with me and gave (accurate) prices for each. And every single time, I felt that I had gotten more than what I had paid for, no matter the cost.
Because of the nature of this relationship—this foundation of trust and over-value—I know, without a doubt, that, should I get a bill for $10,000, (God help me if I do. I’ll be digging through other people’s couches for change), that the value I received will far exceed the $10,000 price.
By the way, you can find Dr. Selig’s practice, Northwood Hills Animal Hospital here on the web and here on Facebook. (Disclaimer: I am NOT getting paid—in any way shape or form—to refer people to them. I just take every possible opportunity to tell people how much I love, love, love his clinic. If you do visit, though, tell him you heard how awesome he is from Lyrical Fool!)
But that’s what I want to do with my writing: establish relationships like these where if I say, “I’m not getting paid to talk about this,” people will believe me and if I say, “I received a free this-or-that in exchange for my review, but I think it’s really, really good,” people will trust that, while their mileage may vary, it’s an absolute honest, straight-up-review from my perspective.
And I want to always, always, always give people more than they paid for. I want people to walk away ALWAYS feeling like they got the better end of the deal.
To establish trust and have them always feel that they underpaid. Ideally while I am supporting myself through writing and feeling that my compensation is fair as well.
I have gotten to the point that I love writing. Not just editing, but actually in-the-dregs writing. I want to love what I do so much that I’d do it for free, but provide such quality that people are tripping over themselves to throw money at me.
That, to me, is success. That, to me, is living the dream.
And there are many steps between here and there. Many mindful steps. But every day I’m moving just a little closer.