Article Date: 12/1/2009

A Serious Problem, But Funny Too
lessons learned

A Serious Problem, But Funny Too

It's not that we don't understand — sometimes we just can't hear

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

"Please pray for my hearing!" a mean looking gentleman requested of the evangelist at a revival.

"HEAL!� shouted the evangelist, as he looked toward heaven and smote the petitioner on both ears. Then turning to him, he asked, "How's your hearing now?"

"I don't know yet, Preacher. It doesn't take place until next Monday at the court house."

All by way of introducing "hearing" as the topic of today's discussion. However, not the courthouse kind, but instead what people do via the skin and gristle doohickies on each side of their heads.

A purpose in your problems?

The Lord may give us problems so that we can better understand our patients and their complaints. In my years of practice, I have endured the scintillating scotoma and pain of ocular migraine, the pain of recurrent corneal erosion, the ease of cataract surgery, the problems of occasional diplopia, etc. I could thus better appreciate what patients with these conditions are enduring.

Now as my hearing has gotten worse with age, I have a better understanding of what hearing impaired patients go through, and what you need to do to be certain of proper communication with them. One thing you need to be aware of is that they will often not understand your questions, and thus not give sensible answers.

What kind is it?

"I have a marvelous new hearing aid," a patient once told me. "It was terribly expensive, but worth it, since I can now hear as well as I ever did."

"That's great, Mr. Read," I told him. "What kind is it?"


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

"It's a quarter to three," he replied, glancing at his watch.

Even more of a problem is their misunderstanding of instructions. You need to make certain that hearing impaired patients understand your directions. As an example, an elderly man was walking jauntily down the street with a young peroxide blonde on his arm, when he ran into his cardiologist, Dr. Frank Stegall.

"What do you think you're doing?" asked Frank.

"Just following your instructions," replied the gentleman. "You told me to be cheerful and get a hot momma."

"No, no, no! What I told you was, 'be careful, you've got a heart murmur.'" Another example:

Big breaths

"Big breaths," said the physician to the buxom, elderly, hard of hearing lady, as he placed his stethoscope on her chest.

"Yes," she sighed. "But you should have seen them 50 years ago."

Be understanding

From experience, I cannot over emphasize your need to understand that often we older hearing impaired folks' miscomprehension of what's going on, may not be due to stupidity or approaching Alzheimers, but instead to not being able to hear much of what's being discussed.

Although I understand that there are some people who don't mind being deaf. Like the elderly gentleman whose physician told him, "Mr. Jones, if you don't quit drinking, you're going to lose your hearing."

"That's okay with me, Doc," replied Mr. Jones. "As far as I'm concerned, what I've been drinkin' is a whole lot more interesting that what I've been hearin'!" OM


JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@AOL.COM

Optometric Management, Issue: December 2009