The sun was glinting off the water as we walked along the canal side in Amiens in search of something to eat. The colourful restaurants all had tempting menus, but too many days of eating the three course ‘menus’ and a tightening waistband meant that I was looking for a smaller lunch.
Then I spotted it – a café that had one of my favourites, something that we rarely find in Britain. Galettes.
The waiter saw me looking and smiled ‘Bonjour Madam’, indicating the favoured waterside seating. But I refused to sit immediately.
Indicating the board displaying their offerings I asked in my best schoolgirl French. ‘Are you absolutely sure that your galettes are 100% buckwheat?’
‘Oui, madam, pas gluten.’ He replied, pulling out a chair for me.
This type of conversation is an everyday event for me. I have to be mindful and assertive to look after my health. Sometimes I even go and look in the restaurant kitchen to make sure the chefs understand how to prepare gluten free food.
I have Coeliac (Celiac) disease and that means I can’t eat even the tiniest amount of gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains and any meals made with these foods are out of bounds.
Au revoir Croissant, au revoir bagette, au revoir patisserie. And even goodbye to a whole range of foods and condiments containing ‘hidden’ gluten. These range from some ice creams and milk shakes, beer through to soy sauce.
This set me to pondering how others with this disease who may be less assertive than me, manage. I’m guessing they may sometimes eat meals they aren’t completely convinced are gluten free. Then they spend some time rushing to the loo and wishing they had been more persistent.
I wondered, too, how many other ways lack of assertiveness might effect your health.
Not ‘bothering’ the doctor
Passive people sometimes don’t want to bother the doctor with ‘little’ symptoms. They convince themselves that the doctor is busy and, after all, their symptoms are ‘nothing to worry about.’ Or they do think the symptoms are worrying but leave getting medical attention until things are too late.
Not pushing for appropriate tests
Doctors are busy people and sometimes don’t want to refer patients on for more specialised help. Passive people may sit in their consulting room wanting more but failing to be insistent. Result? They go away with a nagging feeling that more should be done.
Not asking questions
I sometimes wonder if doctors have training on how to get patients out of the door as quickly as possible. It sure seems like it, and that can lead many passive people to scuttle out without their questions asked, much less answered.
How to deal with these situations
My tip is to write down what you want before you leave home. Write down what you want to ask and what you want to happen. If appropriate, do some research beforehand so that you know what is appropriate for your symptoms or condition. And don’t feel you are wasting the doctor’s time. After all, without patients they’d be out of work! Your health is important, look after it.
If you want to know more about how to be assertive you’ll find many tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’ available through Amazon and other e-book sellers.
* Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t wheat, but part of the rhubarb family and so safe for Coeliacs to eat.