Article Date: 10/1/2003

reflections: THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Just Have Fun
When it comes to humor, seize the moment.
ANDREW S. GURWOOD, O.D., F.A.A.O., PHILADELPHIA, PA.

Humor brightens up the day for patients and practitioners alike. Feelin' crummy? See the humor in yourself, your patients and your practice and you'll enjoy every day more than you may already. Besides, having a good time while you're in the office will also make your days go by faster. Why do you think they say that laughter is the best medicine? Meet two patients who made me realize that "going with the flow" and being less serious makes the exam more pleasant.

Second guess your first impression

He had the worst case of cerebral palsy I'd ever seen. His hands were gnarled and his posture was crumbled into the motorized wheelchair upon which he depended. He could barely speak. He could laugh, though.

I started to communicate with him but saw that there was no way he could reply, so I turned to his sister and began to ask her the history questions -- after all, what response could he possibly give me? But his sister wouldn't answer and instead asked me why I was asking her. "Ask him!" she said. Reluctantly, I did.

Understand the person

When I looked into his eyes, I could see there was somebody in there. I started with the ever popular, "How are you?" His reply came from a small box that was Velcroed to his wheelchair in a place where he could trip the button. In that monotone, computer-generated voice we've all grown accustom to hearing on Star Trek, he said yes.

"Ahhhh . . . I see -- yes and no questions." I said.

"Yes."

"So, you are in there."

"Yes."

"Let's try the 'no,' shall we?"

"Yes."

Scratching my head, I asked, "Was that yes, let's try the 'no' or . . ."

"Yes."

"Very funny. Hit 'no' please.

"No."

"Was that a refusal?"

"Yes."

There was only one thing to do in this unique circumstance. In my best French accent, I asked, "The doctor, he is handsome, no?" Before he could draw, like a rabid Jesse James, I found the yes control. "Yes!" He laughed. His sister laughed. We all laughed. Of course from there it deteriorated. The three of us had a yuk fest.

We do weddings too

Sure, he was schizophrenic, but boy, could he tell a story. All I asked was how he was "doin' today."

"Well, I'm fine. You know I was quite a ladies' man."

"Okaaaaaay," I replied. "A ladies' man?"

"Are you kid'n me, kid'n me? When I lived uptown in New York. Oh, baby. Yeah, baby, 89-piece band (Why not round it out to 90 I wondered) -- flute, bass, cymbals. Oh, the women were all over me. They love those Hollywood types, I tell ya."

"A ladies' man, I see," I said.

"I can sing like Sinatra," he added and immediately launched into "She get too hungry for dinner at eight. She like the thee ­ ate ­ ha, but never come late." What could I do? I joined in -- in harmony.

DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENÉ LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8132 OR LUTHER@BOUCHER1.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

 


Optometric Management, Issue: October 2003