Earlier this year I visited my doctor’s office where I was asked to step on the scale. Next, I was invited into an examination room where my blood pressure was taken. At that time, I suggested that if the medical staff wanted to be happy with one of those numbers, they might consider switching the order for those parts of the exam.
Now, I have a new suggestion for a medical visit.
Anyone who has ever visited a medical professional is familiar with filling out an amount of paperwork that would have Leo Tolstoy crying, “Uncle!” Followed by signing forms allowing release of information to those designated plus the HIPAA paperwork.
I’d want to see one more signature – the doctor’s on a form that says the paperwork I painfully and meticulously filled out was read.
I had intended to drive about halfway back to Ohio from North Carolina, but I began having more than usual trouble focusing my left eye, so I found a motel and called it an early night.
Waking up this morning, I knew I had a problem and suspected my diagnosis because my eyelid was crusty. “Aw! I bet I have pinkeye. How could I have gotten that?”
The mirror reflected an eye so red that either my guess was right or I’d had one heck of a party last night and didn’t remember (and cleaned up afterwards).
I put my sunglasses on over my prescription lenses before resuming my drive home. Kentucky was overcast, but the light bothered my eye.
With several stops, I made it back home and went directly to the local urgent care clinic since I’m between doctors. I complimented the office staff because I only had to fill out one side of one sheet of paper for information.
I didn’t wait long to be called to the back. True to form, I was asked to get on the scale (I asked to have it moved away from the wall but did not explain it would have made me feel claustrophobic otherwise). Disappointedly, the scale proved I’d had a good weekend in Asheville.
Next, on to the sphygmomanometer for the blood pressure check. This one, electronic, inflated the pressure cuff on my upper right arm automatically until the squeeze hurt. I’m not averse to short term pain and have certainly proven through many surgeries that I have a high tolerance for pain, but my hand went numb. It deflated and I thought, “Thank goodness.” but the attendant stayed at her laptop inputting while the machine started to inflate again. Once again, my hand went numb and tingled and I asked her to take it off.
She got a smaller-width cuff, put it around my lower left arm while she held it on. My hand went numb. I told her.
She replied, “That’s because it’s electronic.”
I stayed silent despite having had many blood pressures taken over many years even with electronic devices and never had a numb hand before.
She questioned my health history. I included 2 broken legs, 3 rods in my back, torn meniscus, rotator cuff and removal of my right eye.
The last was the only thing she questioned an I told her, “I had a tumor and they took it out when I was 3 weeks old. Retrolental fibroplasias, I think.” trying to remember the exact diagnosis. She typed on the laptop.
She asked about medicines and a couple of follow-up questions about those and then left the room.
Shortly, the doctor came in the room and asked about my symptoms. He asked if I had double vision.
“You can’t have double vision with one eye.”
He quickly opened my chart, I thought to see what he had missed. He said he wanted to give me an eye exam and I told him that I just had one.
“When?”
“Two weeks ago.”
“What was your vision?”
I worked to recall, “20 / 30.”
I pulled both sets of glasses onto the top of my head so he could look at my inflamed eye.
He questioned whether I could see well enough to drive. I told him that I was pretty good at catching the county number from Ohio license plates (as long as I wasn’t in heavy traffic at 70 m. p. h.)
He smiled and said he would write a prescription for eye drops, told me I was contagious for the next 24 hours and would write me a note to get off work and left the room.
I opened my ever-present book and read about 1-1/2 pages when the woman came back in and advised the doctor wanted to test my vision. We went into the hallway where she pointed to the eye chart at the end of the hall and tried to hand me a white spoon-shaped tool and said, “Place this over your right eye and look down the hall…”
I interrupted, objecting, “But I don’t have a right eye…”
She interrupted me, “You still need to put this over your eye.”
I pulled both sets of glasses onto the top of my head, tapped my prosthesis thrice with one of my fingernails so it “click, click, clicked” and said, “It’s plastic. I can’t see out of it. It comes out.” and used my thumb to prove the last part true then held my plastic eye in front of her face.
“Well, you don’t have to get rude about it.”
“I am not being rude.”
She relented and did not force me to use the white spoon-shaped tool and asked me to read the chart. I knew I got the colors (red and green) correct and after I asked, she told me my vision was 20 / 30.
This incident is more than two women not seeing eye-to-eye. She wasn’t listening to me. She was operating by rote.
I never take my eye out in front of anyone who is not sleeping in the same bed with me. Taking my eye out is tantamount to standing naked before another.
Is it too much to ask the medical personnel to use their eyeballs to look at the paperwork that seems so necessary to them?
I said something to the receptionist on my way out. All she said, “It’s the way we’re used to doing things.”
That still hit me in the eye.
I am very specific about my wording. I always say to doctors, “I don’t have a right eye.” never “I have no vision in that eye.” There’s a difference.
In my mind’s eye, there are a lot more people who would say the latter than people similar to me. Wouldn’t my situation be a tad more memorable. Or am I asking too much for someone to remember let alone understand the words that I’m using.
It is difficult to have an eye for detail, but I hope this might be an eye opener for some. Perhaps we could all go on strike and refuse to do paperwork at the doctor’s office unless the doctor agrees to read what is written down. That would be an eye-catcher, wouldn’t it?

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