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Thanks, but no thanks! 20-40-60 Etiquette


 By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I have lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes this comes up in conversation upon learning the other person has one of these or similar. I have had both friends who are aware of my medical conditions and complete strangers (people I have met at parties, etc.) tell me I am doing terrible things to my body by taking medications.

They have each insisted upon their own version of treatment – the pink stuff, the wrap, going gluten free, dairy free, etc. In each case, I have attempted to politely inform the person that I prefer medically researched, Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of treatment and have found them to be very effective.

However, each person continues to tell me the way I am doing it is wrong and continues to push their method. I have been forced to stop responding to emails/texts or find an excuse to break away from the conversation. What is the best way to tell these people that I am not interested in their unsolicited advice and get them to stop without coming across as rude?

I am quite tired of this happening and am running out of ideas for how to handle it! Grrr!!!

CALLIE’S ANSWER: People need to understand that nothing needs to be said. I am so sorry people are being rude or pushy with their thoughts or beliefs. Keep your head up, try to smile and be gracious.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: This is easier said than done, but it seems like the right answer to these people is a short one, even if you just say “thanks.” If you keep it short and simple, they can’t rebut any statements that you make about your protocol. If you feel like it, you can also note that you’ll pass the information along to your doctor and leave it there. Even though these people are likely well-meaning, it doesn’t help you when you’re feeling terrible to hear about all these so-called “miracle cures” that fully healed their best friend’s cousin’s ex-husband’s mom or someone supposedly close to them. You are wise to stick with your doctor and science and listen to alternatives on your own terms if something isn’t working. But the more you explain to other people your course of treatment, the less some of them will hear and the more ammunition you’ll give them to jump in with whatever they are selling. Their solution might be helpful and it might not, but you can pick and choose. You could also say to them “thanks for your input; send me the information by email and I’ll take a look at it at another time.” That way you end the conversation right then and deflect it until you want to read the information or delete it.

HELEN’S ANSWER: Good grief! It is definitely not right for people to comment on your method of taking care of yourself. You, more than anyone, know what needs to be done.

It is not rude to suggest “thank you very much for your advice, but I am doing all I can do at this time.” You can also tell them to email you if something brand new comes up in medicine (you don’t want to miss anything) but that you have all the information that you need at this time. And leave it at that. You are just a brave person in having to deal with these issues. Go at your own pace!

GUEST’S ANSWER: Dr. Mark Sullivan, Oklahoma City physician: Rude and insensitive people will continue to be rude and/or insensitive.

In that case I would not waste very much time in my reply to them. I would probably just say "thanks." I might give that a try and move on.

If I did not quickly" blow them off," I would probably say something like this: " If you have been living with this condition as long as I have, you would find the best physician you could and let him outline the best evidence-based approach to the treatment of my condition as well as the side effects and safety profile" and go with that.

I might also say that I plan to be a little proactive and try to keep up with the research that is going on with my condition so that I will be able to ask more intelligent questions about my treatment as well as having a better understanding of my physician’s answers.

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›