Article Date: 1/1/2005

reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Going the Extra Mile
Some patients need a little extra help, but they're worth it.
BY LINDA MORGAN, O.D., OMAHA, NEB.

Everyone's busy. Doctors have to fit more patients in smaller time slots. Patients routinely want "those drops that make your eyes go back to normal." Then you meet that special patient who makes you slow down.

Presenting the challenge

Fifty-six-year-old Lois Anderson (not her real name) was just that person. On a balmy fall day, Lois walked into my exam room with a gloomy look. "I just can't see anymore." I checked her old prescription and the findings from the autorefractor and sighed. There had been a significant change. "When is the last time you saw your family doctor?" I asked her.

Lois launched into a dissertation regarding her distaste for doctors. First, her granddaughter had been hospitalized and then refused fluids, resulting in dehydration. Lois produced a photo of a lovely five-year-old girl who was missing her hands. Then she told me the story of her husband's death in the hospital: The staff thought he was in a diabetic coma when in actuality he was having a heart attack.

"This is going to be tough," I thought. Despite my obvious questions as to the validity of her stories, Lois was quite disenchanted with the prospects of seeing a doctor. I took her hand and said to her, "Baby steps." And I smiled at her.

I asked where she lived. "Louisville," she answered. Well, I had driven through that small Nebraska town and remembered seeing a doctor's office around there somewhere. I told her I'd find a nice doctor for her.

Mission almost accomplished

That weekend, as my husband and I packed our car with kids and swim gear for the lake, I asked if we could swing through Louisville on the way. He looked at me strangely until I told him the story. Then he smiled and nodded. We drove into Louisville and found the office. I jumped out of the car and walked to the building entrance. It was Saturday and the office was closed for the weekend, but it did have a phone number on the door.

The following Monday (my day off), I called the doctor's office to inquire about the doctors and to see whether they were accepting new patients. They said they'd be happy to see Lois.

When I got to the office on Tuesday, I called Lois. She wasn't home. I left a message for her to call me. Wednesday came, and Lois hadn't called. On Thursday, I called again and left another message for Lois to call me. Friday came and went with no return call. The following Tuesday, I called again (yes, I'm persistent). And Lois was finally home. I told her about the nice doctor in Louisville and suggested she get a check up with blood work. When we found out the results, we'd go from there. She agreed to make the call.

Sweet success

About a month and several hundred patients go by and Lois is in my office again. She had seen the nice doctor, who confirmed my suspicion: diabetes. Lois came back to get her eyes rechecked now that her blood sugar was normal. We talked about the long road ahead. Again I told Lois, "Baby steps." And she smiled.

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: January 2005