Article Date: 8/1/2010

Living Amongst the Blobs
lessons learned

Living Amongst the Blobs

To understand your patients, walk a mile in their glasses.

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

Humorist Dave Barry once described his highly myopic naked vision in a column entitled "Randomly Amongst The Blobs," by saying that without his glasses, he had a great deal of trouble distinguishing between house fires and beer signs.

As I recall, I may have already written about Barry's seeing problems back some 20 or 25 years ago. However, I want to refer to them again, for the following reasons:

1. Those who have become O.D.'s and readers of OM since that time won't know it's not new.
2. Folks old enough to have read it back then, now probably have difficulty remembering what they had for breakfast this morning, let alone something they read that long ago. Thus, it's "new" to them as well.
3. His comments are funny.
4. It's an important reminder of how you need to fully understand how your patient's life is impacted by his or her seeing problems. Only by understanding how these problems affect their quality of life, can you provide the caring service that builds good relationships. Among the problems Barry discusses:

Appearance

"When professional photographers take my picture, they always suggest I take my glasses off, because otherwise the picture shows this head with normal top and bottom, but in the middle there's this little perfect miniature human head, maybe the size of an orange, staring out from behind my glasses," writes Barry

At the beach

Swimming at the beach is another issue for Mr. Barry. He explains that when he went in the ocean with his glasses off, which is the traditional way to go into the ocean, he could not frolic in the surf like a normal person because he usually can't see the waves until they knock him over and drag him along the bottom, and fill his mouth with sand. Also, the current always carries him down the beach, away from his wife and towel and glasses.


ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

"When I emerge from the water, all I can see is this enormous white blur (the beach?) covered with darkish blobs (people?), and I run the risk of plopping down next to a blob that I think is my wife and throwing my arm over it in an affectionate manner, only to discover that it's the girlfriend of an enormous violent jealous weightlifter, or, God help me, the violent weightlifter himself."

Necking on dates

Back when he was in high school, even necking on dates posed problems for the humorist. He complained that he had to take his glasses off when he necked, lest he cause facial injury to the other necker. So when he sat on the sofa with a girl, and figured the time was right, he said he'd very casually remove his glasses, rendering himself "batlike," and lean toward the blob representing the girl, and plant a sensuous kiss — on the side of her head rather than her lips.

"Now what?" he concluded. "Do I try again, on the theory that she has been aroused by being kissed on the side of the head? Or is she angry? Is she still on the sofa? There was no way to tell."

Again, only by putting yourself in your patients' shoes can you understand what they are going through. (Although, of course, if you are male, and your patient is a female wearing pink high heel shoes, I don't recommend you take this advice literally.) OM


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

Optometric Management, Issue: August 2010