THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
My Freaky Friday
This O.D. plays "What If" and finds relief
with the humorous fantasy.
BY MICHAEL C. BERNER, O.D., SAN DIEGO, CALIF.
I desperately needed to come up for air. Submerged in a sea of macular degeneration and cataracts, my next patient offered the perfect antidote to a senior citizen morning. Eight-year-old Hillary, perky and chatty, had arrived for her annual check up. I try to establish good rapport with kids, putting myself in the child's shoes, speaking to them in a playful, higher-pitched voice than I would ever be caught using anywhere else. I'm successful most of the time -- except for the future Jerry Springer guest I wrote about in a previous article that kicked me as hard as she could in the shin! But why bring up the past?
Anyway, this exam got me thinking: What if the script were switched? What if this precocious eight-year-old became the doctor examining one of my elderly patients?
Shhh. Here comes Dr. Hillary now in my twist on "Freaky Friday."
ILLUSTRATION BY PAULA
Meet the good doctor
"Hi, Mrs. Smith, I'm Hillary. I'm eight and I'm going to check your eyes today. I have a dog named Specs and a little sister who puts lipstick on him. Specs hates it and rubs it off all over our new carpet. Do you wear lipstick? Oh, I see you do. Why is it smeared all over your lips like that? It's just how Specs looks! Don't feel bad; when I color I have a hard time staying in the lines, too. My mom says I can't wear make-up until I'm sixteen. That is sooo old! Now, let's get to how you're seeing. Can't read too well anymore? I can read good. Would you like for me to come over and read you a story sometime?
"Part of the problem is that your glasses are really scratched. Do you keep them in your case? My case is lost under my bed somewhere with my pet turtle, so my dad makes me put my glasses in a sock. I usually use my brother's dirty socks because I never have any clean socks. Specs chews up all my clean socks but rolls over and whimpers near my brother's dirty socks, so my glasses stay safe. You can borrow one of his dirty socks anytime you want.
"I want to check your eyes for any icky diseases. I'm going to put some drops in. These drops will sting but try not to yell. If you start crying, here are some tissues you can stuff under your sleeve with all those other ones you have. The drops make your vision blurry. My eyes get blurry after I read for a long time, which I really like to do at school except when I'm in the Time-out Chair, which I'm in a lot -- mostly for talking to my best friend Mandy who's also eight but her birthday is next month and she's going to have a really, really cool laser tag party that I'm going to."
(Dr. Hillary now takes a well-deserved breath.)
"After the drops work, I'll use a big bright light and look for anything that might make you blind soon.
"The last thing we are going to do is test the pressure inside your eyes. The blue light we use makes your eyes shine green like a monster. There's one that lives in our hall closet. I hear him every night.
She's thorough, too
"We're almost done. Your eyes look good for a grandma. My mom says she always knows what I'm doing because moms and grandmas have eyes in the back of their heads. Since you're a grandma, I better check those next."
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
Optometric Management, Issue: June 2004