Monday, December 30, 2013

My Patient First Doctor


2013 is going out like with a pathetic whimper, as I have managed to develop pink eye in both eyes. A couple of days ago I woke up to discover that my eyes had crusted over during the night. This lovely condition was joined by an intolerable itch and uncontrollable tearing. Two days later I look like an emotionally unstable single woman who just spent a weekend binge watching the Hallmark Channel.

Sunday morning I drove the family through a driving rainstorm over to a YMCA in south side to hear Gordon Fort preach, despite the itching watery eyes. This should tell you something about the lengths I will go nowadays to hear a decent sermon. Anyway, I sat there the entire time, tissues in hand, dobbing my eyes every few minutes. Although Gordon’s message was terrific, I feel it necessary to point out for his sake as well as mine that it wasn’t that terrific. It wasn’t his soaring rhetoric that drove me to tears, in other words. More infection than inflection.

When I got back home, Pam insisted that I go to Patient First. I obeyed and sat in the packed lobby for two hours before finally seeing the no nonsense Indian doctor, who instantly upbraided me for wearing my contacts. Didn’t I know that wearing contacts while suffering from conjunctivitis was the worst possible thing to do?

Me: Well, er..I suppose I…

Doctor: Now you’ve gone and made it much worse! I feel certain that you have most likely scratched your retinas!!

She then began spitting out orders to an assistant and me.

Doctor: Nurse!! Get me the eye bucket. You, lay down!

She then proceeded to take charge of my case with militaristic glee, ordering people around, peering into my eyes with bright lights, poking my eyeballs with all sorts of swabs and probes, explaining nothing as she went.

Doctor: Just as I suspected!! You have a scratch on your right cornea. You are not to wear contacts again for 7 days, do you understand?!

Me: (timidly) Yes Ma’am.  

She then began feverishly writing out notes and typing up the paperwork, all the while mumbling to herself, clearly still quite upset with me for my contact wearing ignorance. Then suddenly, she took in a big cleansing breath and turned to stare directly into my bloodshot eyes. For the first time, she managed a faint, Mona Lisa smile.

Doctor: Now, you listen to me, Mr. Dunnevant. You are to go home and begin putting two drops into each eye every 4 hours for the next two days. Then you will come back here to see me again. You understand what I am saying?

Me: Yes Ma’am.

Doctor: Under no circumstances are you to put contacts in your eyes. When eyes start to puff up, place hot compresses on them. Do not scratch them or rub them. You have already done too much damage with this foolish wearing of the contact lenses.

She then smiled brightly and patted me on the shoulder. “I see you back here in two days, ok?”

I must say, as bad as having pink eye is, it was quite refreshing to encounter a decisive, straight talking doctor for a change. If all doctors were like this woman, maybe I’d go more often. She didn’t care one bit for my feelings. All she cared about was making me well again, and keeping me, the idiot, from doing any more harm to myself. Or maybe I liked her because she reminded me of what I would be like if I were a doctor. Direct, confrontational and borderline rude people tend to appreciate direct, confrontational rudeness in others, I suppose.