Article Date: 7/1/2006

reflections - THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Hospital Or Heaven?
Here's another reason never to be without your reading glasses.

BY JEROME M. GARBER, O.D., F.I.O.S., F.A.A.O.

While convalescing in a hospital due to an unexpected surgery some years back, something humorous transpired that impressed upon me the importance of never being without one's reading glasses.

All's quiet

It was a quiet afternoon in a normally busy hospital — the period between visiting hours and dinner. I was sitting up in bed catching up on the reading I'd promised myself I'd do all year, but that somehow never happens. Soon I became aware of an elderly woman in the hallway, probably between 85 and 90 years old, being wheeled back to her room. She was lying on the usual mobile table we've all seen on television, which the nurses were maneuvering ever so carefully. 

I noticed the woman was covered up to the neck by tight sheets, the kind often seen on patients en route to their rooms after surgery. I guessed she was still under the effect anesthesia, as she was lying quite still with her eyes closed. She blinked slightly, however, as they pushed her past my door.

The shout heard 'round the hospital

There was nothing unusual about a scene like this in a hospital, so I went back to reading about the escapades of one of the more popular fictional spies. But shortly thereafter, I became aware of something that was unusual in a hospital. It was shouting, which seemed to be coming from down the hall — the same direction the elderly woman had recently gone. A voice I recognized as belonging to one of the nurses was yelling, "No, dear, you're not dead! Really, you're not! You're not in heaven, you're in the hospital!"

This shouting went on for several minutes before it stopped. When the nurse I had heard passed my door a couple minutes later, I motioned for her to come in.

"What is going on?" I asked. When she told me, we both burst out laughing.

Off by one letter

It seems that the elderly woman I'd seen wheeled past my room was almost totally deaf. In order for her to hear what anyone was saying to her, it was necessary to shout. So that all the nurses, who change shifts every eight hours, would know this crucial piece of information about the patient, they'd posted a large sign with the word, "Deaf," on it over her bed while she'd been in surgery. Upon waking from the anesthesia, the patient turned around and saw the sign. Having the less-than-perfect sight that is typical for her age, she thought the sign said, "Dead." She immediately thought she had died while in surgery and was now in heaven, or "the other place."

After much shouting, and after the patient found and put on her reading glasses, she realized that the sign did read, "Deaf," rather than "Dead," and that she was very much alive. Then she too joined in the laughter — gratefully!

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@LWWVISIONCARE.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.



Optometric Management, Issue: July 2006