You might – just might – have patients who don’t take your advice and return with same problem again and again. For such patients, like inveterate smokers with recurrent upper respiratory infections or refluxers who just have to have that bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack, this story has worked for me. Be aware, though, that it must be related goodnaturedly and with a smile on your face, because you are making just a bit of fun of the patient:
I walk over to a wall of the exam room and start to rhythmically knock the side of my head against the wall. I say:
You know, Doctor, I have terrible headaches all the time.
I stop knocking my head and continue, now playing the role of me:
Well, Mr. Jones, if you stop banging your head on the wall, they might go away.
I resume knocking:
Oh, no, Doctor, I can’t do that. I like banging my head on the wall.
That might fall a little outside your comfort zone, but for the right patients, it does knock a little sense into their heads.*