How Big IS This Problem?

How Big IS This Problem?

When things go wrong, it’s easy to assume there’s something worse going on than is actually the case. I learned this in my kitchen recently.

A week ago, my sweetie mentioned that the toaster was broken.  I thought maybe he’d just not had it completely plugged in when he discovered this, so I checked it myself.  (I am more familiar with this particular toaster.)  He was sort of right.  The toaster didn’t work when I plugged it in either.

Later that same day, I realized the cordless phone in my office wasn’t working.  The main phone of  that set is in the kitchen, so I checked that next.  It didn’t work either.  This duet had been part of the family for a while, so I assumed the main one had died of natural causes and taken the auxillary with it.

I got tired of running upstairs to the bedroom to answer the phone before I got tired of making toast in the oven–I replaced the phones first.  (Note:  this was the more complicated of the two malfunctions to remedy.  Duh.)  I installed the batteries, set up both phones, plugged them in, and left them to charge for the night.  The problem would be history in the morning, right?

Nope.  The  phone still didn’t work.

That’s when I remembered that the outlet where we use the toaster and the outlet where the main phone is plugged in are on the same circuit.  I got the toaster out of the trash (I know–gross) and tested it on a different circuit.  Back in the toast business!

I wrote myself a note to call the handyman about fixing the circuit.  I didn’t want to bother him on the weekend so we did without that circuit, which we use a lot, for two more days.  But at least we could make toast…

When I spoke with my ever so practical handyman, this little equioment failure project took an important turn in the right direction.  He asked if I’d checked GFI outlet that’s on that circuit.  “Of course,” I replied.  “The green light isn’t lit.”

“But did you try to do a reset on it?”

Oops.   Ah…duh…..

I didn’t need a new toaster.  I didn’t need new phones.  I didn’t need to repair the wiring in my house.  I just needed to reset the GFI outlet.  I could do that myself in literally ten seconds and did while I finished the conversation with the handyman.

Maybe this kind of behavior is why we go to the doctor so often.  We assume the worst rather than looking at easier-to-remedy scenarios.  A cold becomes “Maybe I’m coming down with pneumonia.”  And that fatigue?  Well, it could be tuberculosis or blocked arteries or whatever you’re imagining.  But it could be that you’re not drinking enough water.

The worst part of making this mistake in a medical situation  is that once you go to the doctor, it’s highly likely they’re going to collude with you and spend huge amounts of time, money, and resources looking for that complicated possibility.  Even if all that’s needed is a simple lifestyle change.  Or just three more days to get over that cold.

Most of the time, something much simpler is probably going on.  But professional medicine these days is not geared to simple solutions.  There’s so much technology and so many drugs to bring to bear that the non-technical options might not even been on the radar in many cases.

We need to do this part for ourselves as a baseline effort.  Really think about what simple things might be causing the problem, whether it’s medical or otherwise.  Seeing if the small things over which you have total control can make a difference rather than immediately assuming it’s a major problem can make your life a who lot smoother.


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