Article Date: 7/1/2005

lessons learned
Strange Things Happen

Think you've had some unusual patients? You're not alone!

My buddy and I are deer hunting," said the emergency cell phone call to a physician, "and he just fell over. I think he's dead. What should I do?"

"First you need to make certain he's dead," replied the M.D. There was silence for a bit, and then he heard the sound of a gun shot.

"Okay. What next?"

As you know, lots of strange things happen in doctor's offices. You may be interested in hearing some examples that show you're not the only one to suffer such.

The bottom line

"One of my patients memorized the tiny line at the bottom, describing the chart's source, of an acuity chart before I came into the exam room," said University of Alabama at Birmingham's Dr. Joe Benjamin. "When I eventually asked her to read the smallest line of print that she could, I was momentarily astounded when she answered, 's-c-h-o-o-l-o-f-o-p-t-o-m-e-t-r-y', since it was about one fifth the size of the 20/20 letters.

Another couple of strange responses came to me from Dr. John Muellerleile:

"These glasses are so good, I can read the ear tags on my neighbor's cows!" a pleased patient reported to him.

"Any surgeries?" he asked a male patient during case history. "Yes. I had a hysterectomy," the man replied. He of course meant he'd had a vasectomy.

The whole state?

"I was taking a case history on a new patient who wears RGPs," reports Dr. Jack Hauler. "He said the lenses were very uncomfortable. I asked him if they're Boston lenses. He said, 'I don't know, but it feels like the whole state of Massachusetts is in there!'"

Dr. Bob Koetting had a man cut down a tree in his parking lot. When he thanked the man, he replied, "I chop down a tree in the tradition of George Washington. He didn't like what the birds were doing to his car either."

Changed appearance

A local physician, Dr. Joel Todino, tells me of a nice-looking buxom lady who came in for examination. She was instructed to go into one of the exam rooms, take off her clothes and jewelry, and put on a paper gown. When he came in the room later, he couldn't believe it was the same woman. She was flat chested, no teeth, missing her wig, and looked entirely different than the good-looking woman who had entered the room.

Which reminded me of a story in Favorite Jokes of Mountain Folks in Booger Hollow, the book I wrote with a friend:

"Cousin Mary Ann went to the sheriff las week to tell him her husband wuz a'missin'. The sheriff sez, 'You'll hav to give me a description uf him.'

"Well," she sez "he's little 'n skinny 'n wrinkled 'n bald 'n wears false teeth. Cum to think uf it, most uf him wuz missin' fore he wuz!!!"

A little early

When I asked Dr. Todino for permission to use his name when telling the story, he said it was okay since the lady in question was now deceased. I couldn't resist telling him that this reminded me of still another story:

A lady died and appeared at the Pearly Gates to seek admission. "You're not due up here until four years from now," said St. Peter.  "You certainly must have had a lousy physician!


Optometric Management, Issue: July 2005