Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with life threatening illness, Doctor's Visits, living with chronic illness

Does the Magic 8 Ball Have all the Answers?

Remember having a Magic 8 ball as a kid?  It felt so mysterious to see the answers and the direction of your life floating in green liquid.  The answers were, obviously, quite limited because there were just so many sides on the floating piece inside the ball.  It’s nothing like the Bat Computer; just put in all the information you had and it popped out the information Batman and Robin needed.

When dealing with a health challenge or some other life trauma we’re looking not for simple yes or no responses.  We’re not seeking answers that are so generic that the answer received could apply to life and death matters as much as to decisions about what brand of salad dressing to buy at the grocery store.  So what does it take to get the “good “ answers you wanted and need?

The truth is the answers can only be as good as the questions asked.  One of the things drilled into me during my psychotherapy training was the importance of good questions.  The questions needed to be open-ended, not able to be answered with a yes or no answer.  They had to be direct, no beating around the busy.  As I often stated to my clients, “Don’t ask the question, if you don’t want the answer”; truth is the only acceptable response.

What is it that you want to ask your medical team about your health?  What do you want to know about the course of your particular disease?  How much do you want to know about what’s on the horizon for treatment or research (always make sure your medical provider is up-to-date on what’s happening in the field by reading journals, attending conferences and other disease specific trainings).

The Buddhists will tell you that life is all about living in the question.  That would require every dialogue to propel you toward the next question.  Living in the question is a type of soul-searching treasure hunt with the question being the clues to the next leg of the journey.

How good are you at asking questions?  How detailed are your questions?  Are pointed are your questions?  I guess it depends on how much you honestly want to know.  Think about it the next time you ask someone, anyone a question.  Think about the answer your seeking and let that be your guide!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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