Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mrs. Magoo

I wanted to take this opportunity to do a small but vital PSA for the medical professionals out there – specifically all you doctors. I realize you spend an inordinate amount of time and money on medical school, and when you graduate and start practicing medicine, you’re all wicked smaht, as they say in Boston. But there seems to be one thing they’re not teaching you in medical school, and I wanted to share that with you today.

It seems like it would be obvious to everyone, but apparently not. The thing that some of you doctors are missing is the fact that almost all of your patients didn’t go to medical school like you did. That should make sense now, if you think back on it, because your classes were regular size, and didn’t include all the rest of the people in the world.

The end result of that fact is that you might need to explain the things going on in your head out loud to your patients, because your patients might not inherently know what a high blood CRP level means, for instance. Or what “wow,” means when you stick that cold thing in their ear and shine the light in there.

You might also want to take a second to put yourself in your patient’s gown, as it were, when prescribing medicine or advising on treatment, and think about some of the challenges your suggested course of action might present. Let me give you an example...

My wife was recently diagnosed with iritis, which is an irritation and inflammation of the irises (which, after I Googled it, turn out to be the colored parts of your eyeballs). We had to go to the ophthalmologist to get that diagnosis, because she had another issue going on with one of her eyes.

Besides being very bloodshot, her iris was stuck to the lens behind it, so her pupil wasn’t opening and closing properly, causing it to be almost rectangular instead of round. One eye looked normal and the other looked like a cat with a severe hangover. She’d been to the optometrist the day before for a routine visit, so she went back to have them look at the new problem.

They saw the funny shaped pupil and immediately opted for the worst possible diagnosis, guessing she had an eye-threatening condition that would likely leave her homeless, wearing a second-hand eye patch, with no friends and a bad case of mange.

(That might not have been exactly what the optometrist said, but it was something like that.)

The second opinion from the ophthalmologist was a little more upbeat. You get to keep your eye and your home and your friends. We just need to keep both your eyes dilated for a week while we put steroid drops in them to cure the iritis. Dilating your eyes will also un-stick the iris from the lens.

Hmm... Well, that does sound better than the mange scenario, but I have to keep my eyes dilated for a whole week? That’s going to make seeing a lot harder. OK, well, let’s do it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had your eyes dilated, but it’s not very fun. You can’t drive, light hurts your eyes, and everything is fuzzy. My wife is a high school teacher, so keeping her eyes permanently dilated for a week was interesting. I needed to drive her to and from work., and she wasn’t able to see anything that she, or anyone else, was writing on the board or on their papers, which made teaching much more exciting.

Her district didn’t have an extra Braille computer lying around, so reading her emails was a challenge at best. She could just start to see a little as the drops were wearing off, so she basically had a half-hour window right before her next scheduled dilation to get six hours of grading and computer work done.

It was a rather frustrating, tiring, headache-y, and overall non-productive week for her. Back at the ophthalmologist’s office for the follow-up visit and he tells her she needs to keep up the dilating for another week. After a very heavy sigh, she turned to me and said something about emails, or not being able to read some other thing.

“Well, you just need to get stronger readers. Then you’ll be able to see.”

I’m sorry, what?

“Yeah, you just need a stronger magnification on your glasses when your eyes are dilated, then you can see again. Just buy the strongest ones they have at the drugstore.”

You see, doctors of the world, this is what I’m talking about. We out here with non-doctor jobs have absolutely no idea how the eye works. We never studied it at the medical school we didn’t go to. You just assuming we would know something like that is really unhelpful. That was an offhand comment that really would have helped out a great deal... A WEEK AGO!

So, off to the Dollar Store we went. I found her a sweet pair of Mrs. Magoo glasses with a classy zebra print on the sides. She put them on and shouted, “Holy crap! I can see!” Since we were at the Dollar Store, no one even noticed.

We splurged and got her two pairs of zebra print glasses, just in case she took one of them off and couldn’t find them again in the blur.

Mrs. Magoo sure is a lot more pleasant to be around now that she can see! Thanks, Doc.

Is there anything else you want to tell me?

See you soon,


Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen

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