brush with death helps drive home a practice management
optometrist knows never to underestimate the importance of a good staff. I've heard
this mantra of practice management for years, but it wasn't until recently that
I discovered just how true it is.
Mike, one of our
technicians, has been in the business for years. From the dispensary to the office,
he can do it all. His forte is the lab, where he performs small miracles, including
taking on jobs that other labs won't touch. People actually bring in outside prescriptions
just so Mike can make their glasses!
An apple a day . . .
It was a slow day
at the office. Spring break was over, the kids were back in school and it was pouring
rain. I was passing the time talking woodworking with Mike while he fabricated liquid
polymers (I told you he was good). Feeling hungry, I grabbed an apple out of
particular apple had to have been the juiciest apple in the history of apples, because
when I bit into it, a shot of juice hit the back of my throat, triggering a swallow
reflex. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but this time, the action caused
me to suck down a rather large chunk of apple.
heard me wretch. "You alright, Doc?"
could still breathe, so despite feeling like an anvil was lodged in my esophagus,
I thought I was okay. I was about to say so when the chunk shifted,
cutting off my airway. I had been in the act of exhaling, and caught without much
air in the tank, I was in trouble.
noted with a perverse sense of professional curiosity that it takes roughly six
seconds of oxygen deprivation for your vision to start creeping around the edges. Recognizing what was happening,
Mike got me in a bear hug and gave me the Heimlich.
twinkling lights and dark patches in my vision made me wonder if the jolting had
somehow detached a retina. Or was I just dying?
gave me the Heimlich again, more forcefully, and again, nothing. I started thinking
of how these things seem to go so much more smoothly on television. What's that,
Grandma? Go toward the light?
Mike's voice reflected my own desperation.
Third time's a charm
The next thing I remember
is Mike trying to push my diaphragm through my spine and the apple blasting out
of my throat like a cannonball. Greedily, I sucked in air.
suddenly looking much older, shook his head. "Doc, I can't take that kind of excitement!"
saved my life!" I exclaimed when I could speak.
waved a hand. "It was nothing."
Who could forget?
I had to disagree.
My life was certainly more than that. In fact, it was worth exactly $7.35, the cost
of the lunch I had to beg Mike to let me buy him as a gesture of my gratitude.
He was embarrassed by the attention and seemed happy to forget the matter and get
back to discussing the finer points of table saws.
I'll never forget it. Thanks, Mike. You're a life-saver. Never
underestimate the importance of a good staff!
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: July 2005