With Halloween just around the corner – it’s interesting to see how you can put on a costume and somehow become that character – how just a change of outerwear can cause you to behave differently and cause others to perceive you in a different light. A shy little girl becomes a scary, outspoken force while wearing a dark, black witches costume and hat. And I became Jackie Kennedy a hundred Halloween’s ago – too bad the mojo didn’t last – I never found myself an Onassis. Anyway, I wonder, can we recreate this same empowerment phenomena pre and post Halloween?
What am I talking about? During my four months in the hospital with my mom – I watched a lot of people come and go. Many were dressed so poorly – I even saw one lady visit her dad while wearing frayed, pink flannel pajama bottoms with polar bears – muddy, pink fuzzy slippers and a black down jacket. And I pondered at the time – do people react to you based on your look? No, I didn’t say your looks, but rather, how you choose to present yourself?
Let’s say that a family member is in the hospital. You are the designated caregiver or advocate and you show up every day in old sweatpants, dirty shoes and tangled hair. Can you expect the healthcare providers to take your questions and comments seriously if indeed you do not present yourself as a serious person? Ah yes, I know it’s what’s inside that counts. But face it, you are judged at least initially on your external appearance.
Let’s turn this around for a minute. If on your first visit, your doctor walked into your hospital room wearing jeans, tennis shoes, had a blue flowery neck tattoo that said Rachel and had a nose ring and a pierced lip – how would that make you feel? He or she might have graduated at the top of the class and performed world-class surgery on kings and queens, but on first impressions would this person look serious and believable to you? Would you feel comfortable taking this person’s advice without knowing the background?
No matter how we feel about it, there is no denying that people do judge others by how they dress and present themselves. I’m not saying this is a good thing – but people bring years of preconceived notions with them when making initial decisions about you. The point I’m making here is being an advocate for someone in the hospital is not easy. Doctors and nurses are busy and overworked. More often than not, you are viewed as a nuisance with all of your questions and comments. No one knows at first glance that you are an intelligent, empowered patient who understands healthcare safety.To make the staff aware that you intend to proceed from a position of knowledge and power – look, behave and speak like a professional person. You don’t have to wear a three piece suit or a fancy ball gown. Just dress politely, clean, neat, and well-groomed. If you want respect, you must be respectful. You may not buy into what I’m saying, but why be at a distinct disadvantage when you don’t have to?
Watch a fun viddy – A Halloweenish Medical Drama
A hospital stay is hard enough – there are so many things you cannot control. It’s plain silly to ignore those things you can control. Play the game and dress for success. Like the shy little girl in the powerful witches costume – we can transform ourselves, not only how we are perceived, but how we feel. Maybe I should drag out my Jackie O mask. (TRICK OR TREAT)