X marks the eye

Doctor in OR garb sleeping while standing upright

Don’t worry. I can do this in my sleep.

I’ve been searching for forgiveness in my heart for the ophthalmology speciality. Sure, I’ve had contact with two different specialists that were less than ideal, but I’ve tried to let that go. Maybe my judgements about the field have been unduly harsh. Maybe I am just a negative person with unreasonably high standards. Nah, not me.

Yesterday I experienced assembly-line medicine for the first time. Imagine me as a wee cocktail wienie in a wiener machine. I was but one of many ca-chings in Dr. Eye Surgeon’s day. I’ll share an abbreviated run-down of my experience on the line.

First step: Move me into pre-op and remove my glasses, rendering me visually impaired. Put a sticker with my name on my shirt, and draw an X above the right eye. Over the next 45 minutes, ask me four times to repeat the eye I’d be operated on. This seems odd since: a) it’s more important that the doctor know this information than me; and b) if the doctor inspects my left eyelid and there is nary a lump to be found, I imagine he’ll inspect the other eye.

Second step: Talk to the anaesthetist, who asks why I am there. He follows my explanation with: “You’re in good health otherwise, right?” Well, Dr. Dozy (should that be Dr. Numb[skull]?), no, in fact, I am not in good health. Perhaps you might review my file. Or should I provide a complete medical history? Better yet, sedate me so we can abort this conversation.

Step 3: Move me to the OR, where I lie amidst several doctors and nurses, none of whom introduce themselves or address me. Look blindly at the ceiling–no glasses, remember?–and shiver. Imagine the cold keeps surgeon from breaking a sweat as he runs from patient to patient.

Step 4 (trumpets sound): Enter stage left, Dr. Eye Surgeon–that’s Dr. Asleep at the Wheel to me. After convening with staff present on several other matters, Dr. AATW asks me how I am feeling. I say I will feel better following sedation. Dr. Dozy wanders in, does not address me, shoots two drugs into my IV, and leaves. Despite his stellar lack of communication skills, I have no idea what he has given me or how it will affect me.

[There could be several more steps in here, including a painful needle and a little eyelid snip, but my memory is vague. I do recall Dr. Eye Surgeon saying: “This is so small I don’t think we needed to remove it.” Perhaps he might have figured that out sooner and thrown wienie me into the discard pile?]

Step 6: Seat me in a post-op area with no nurses and no glasses. Theoretically I am to be monitored for a negative reaction, but monitoring is sparse. In other words, this defective wienie may show up on someone’s dinner table. A nurse eventually wanders in, returns my glasses, applies insufficient pressure upon removing my IV, and leaves me bleeding profusely. Following a quick mop up, I am free to go, with prescriptions but no aftercare instructions.

Maybe Dr. Eye Surgeon did an excellent job. I have no idea. All I have to show for my experience is a black eye. Nonetheless, I’d fail him on his practical exam in Patient and Family Centred Care.

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10 thoughts on “X marks the eye

  1. I have had some great doctors and nurses who are kind/personable/caring and a couple of real duds just like you described – we should be able to fill out a satisfaction survey and when a doctor/nurse gets so many negative reviews they should have to go through a sensitivity course where they learn how to at least introduce themselves wouldn’t that change a few things!

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  2. Don’t even get me started on my waits to see my apparently highly qualified, apparently in great demand opthamologist. I even ignore their call backs now, I can’t spare the 4 hours for the 5 second look into my eyes. Hugs Kathy

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