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A Week in the Life of An Optometrist

A Sage Grouse Photo:Voiceforthewild.org

A Sage Grouse
Photo:Voiceforthewild.org

I had some really serious topics last week with sequestration, taxes, and selling out. Today I thought I’d share a little bit of the lighter side of my work. While I’ve been frustrated with some of the business aspects of being in private practice, I truly love most of my patients. I’ll give you a glimpse into a week in the life of an optometrist. These are all honest to God patients and true stories.

Monday: A gentleman shows up and marks on his history form that he has glaucoma. He was not under treatment because he though his diabetes medicine would work for glaucoma as well. I appreciate dual uses for products but since his pressure was 26 and 47 (normal is under 21), we can safely conclude that diabetes medicine doesn’t work for glaucoma. After a long discussion about vision loss from untreated glaucoma, how to take drops, how he can get assistance if he can’t afford his drops, and how important follow up is, I asked if he had any questions. Like a good patient, he did.

Mr. Glaucoma: “Can you do anything about the scratches on my glasses?

That sound you heard Monday afternoon was me banging my head against  a cement wall.

Tuesday: A middle aged man calls with the complaint of a red swollen eye. He arrives before I am finished with the previous patient and starts to pace the floor and text on his cell phone. When it’s his turn, I show him into the exam room.

Kim: “What’s going on?”

He launches in to a five minute tirade that I couldn’t quite understand. The highlights were about being upset with Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and sage grouse, which are either endangered or not. I wasn’t sure what the verdict was on that one. Then he moved on to the fact that he lost his ranch, which may or may not have had anything to do with Ken Salazar or the plight of the sage grouse. My next comment,

 “Wow, that’s lots of information, but I meant what was going on with your eye?”

Mr Grouse: “Oh”

It was obvious that he had shingles.

Mr. Grouse: “Well how does that happen?”

Kim: “If you’ve ever had chicken pox, the virus is in your system and can show up as shingles under periods of great stress, and it sounds like you’ve been under stress.You should be careful if you’re around people who haven’t had or haven’t  been vaccinated for chicken pox, especially babies”

Mr Grouse: “Oh, I only hang around old farts like myself, and I never see babies”

Let’s hope he doesn’t come into contact with Mr. Salazar. If you seen an angry man trying to infect Washington with shingles, you’ll know who it is.

Wednesday: A mom brings in her young son’s glasses. They are the flexible material that is more impact resistant, but they are literally tied in a bow.

Staff: “How did that happen?”

Mom: “He put them on his dresser for bed, and they were like this when he woke up.”

Yep, another victim of the glasses leprechaun who goes around breaking glasses while you sleep.

Thursday: My 9 AM patient shows up drunk as a skunk, complaining of red eyes. It must be a pretty good job you have if you can be drunk at 9 AM, so I asked what he did. He was a truck driver and had a haul to the neighboring town right after his appointment. After some slurring and sliding around, I gathered that he felt his vision was blurry because of his red eyes.

Otis: “You think I should drive today with my eyes all red?” (Imaging your best drunk voice)

Kim: “Today might not be the best day.”

Friday: An old man shows up for an appointment. I’ve seen him many times, and I know he has dementia and is very hard of hearing. He kind of nods and smiles at everything I say, but he can’t answer any questions. His wife usually comes with him and yells at him if she needs to tell him anything, He’s by himself today. I assume this is going to be fruitless.

Kim, yelling as loud as I can: “How are you, Mr. Deaf?”

Mr. Deaf in a normal tone of voice: “I need cataract surgery.”

When I picked myself up off the ground from shock. I realized that he was wearing his hearing aides. He could carry on a normal conversation. He was very lucid, and I didn’t need to yell. He never had dementia. He just didn’t like to use his hearing aides, so he lived in a state of blissful oblivion. He couldn’t hear anything anyone yelled at him.

Mr. Deaf:” I need cataract surgery so I won’t have to wear these glasses. If I have to wear my hearing aides AND these glasses, I’d have to be a jackass to have big enough ears to hold all this crap up.”

I put in the referral, and changed his name from Mr. Deaf to Mr. Selective Hearing.

I’m not sure how any of this relates to personal finance, but if you can enjoy the variety of humanity you deal with every day, I think it helps with success in your job. If not, at least I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the sage grouse.

Who was your most entertaining client or business associate?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

47 comments

  1. Great stories! I don’t have anything client related that comes close to what you experienced. But I am sure that you have a very diverse group clients if the above examples are the norm.

  2. Wow, those are quite the stories Kim. I think the last one was my favorite. I could not imagine going through life not choosing to wear my hearing aids…if I needed them. I am actually writing a post about one of my former jobs and sharing some stories myself. It’s amazing what you see everyday when you deal with people on a regular basis for your job.

    • I’ve never understood why people don’t wear their hearing aids to appointments. I can’t tell you how many people have come in and said we need to talk louder because they didn’t wear them. Just wear the dang things. It makes me hoarse to yell for 30 minutes.

  3. “If you seen an angry man trying to infect Washington with shingles, you’ll know who it is.” –> HAHAHA.

    I loved this post

  4. Love the stories! Hilariously recounted. Looking forward to reading more!

  5. Sorry for the accidental spam link above! Disregard, all.

  6. Hilarious stories, Kim! I liked Mr. Selective hearing, beacuse it reminded me of the 92-year-old that my friend saw last week (he’s also an optometrist). The 92-year-old is essentially deaf and his son has to communicate for him. Perhaps they also have selective hearing?

    • I think those old men who claim to not hear do better than you’d think. If you had a nagging wife for 50 years, it could certainly make you go “deaf.”

  7. hilarious! my favorite job was at a hotel, you see all kinds of weird clients do all kind of stuff and pretend like they behave every time you show up.

  8. Great stuff and thanks for sharing! Sometimes we just have to sit back and laugh at the circumstances life brings us.

  9. Great stories! Thanks Kim. Working with the public must be as frustrating as it is entertaining! My wife works in a dental office and some of the stories she brings home will bring tears to your eyes (of hilarity and sorrow).

    • My sister is a dentist also. I think her stories might be better than mine, like the guy who swore he was allergic to fluoride but has no problem with fluoride in the drinking water or the guy who thought eating an apple was as good as brushing his teeth!

  10. Oh, the joys of working with the public. Haha!

    • I can’t imagine some of the stories Greg must have. I actually had two cousins who got into a fight at the funeral home over their deceased mother’s couch. Death in the south can provide endless entertainment.

  11. LOL!! Hilarious! I think Mr. Grouse might be favorite, thanks to this line “If you seen an angry man trying to infect Washington with shingles, you’ll know who it is.” My clients seem boring in comparison. They just expect me to wave my magic wand and make them a ton of money. Sadly, mine broke. 🙂

  12. Hilarious! I wonder if my tax clients turn off their hearing aids when I ask them to make their quarterly estimated payments EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!!!!

  13. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    haha Kim You’re hilarious! No job is perfect, but it’s all about perspective. I think you’ve got a great perspective on life in general 😉

  14. Wow, that sounds comical at best but I’m sure it gets a bit overwhelming time after time. I wouldn’t know if I could keep a straight face to be honest but I guess you are used to it. Maybe you excuse yourself for a moment and go to your Optometrist Scream Room lol… Thanks for sharing Kim!

    • You would be amazed the things people have shared with me. Some I certainly did not need to know, like the lady who told me masturbation does NOT make you go blind! I have learned to never be surprised, and I can keep a strait face in just about any situation.

  15. Haha, I like Mr. Selective Hearing. Reminds me of a friend of mine who is deaf but has cochlear implants, and when her 3 year old is throwing a tantrum, she makes a big show of taking them out so he can see she can’t hear him screaming at all. He figured out pretty quickly that screaming after she moves her hands towards her ears is a useless endeavor. =)

  16. “Yep, another victim of the glasses leprechaun who goes around breaking glasses while you sleep.” LOL! These are great stories Kim 🙂

  17. Love the mom with the boy’s glasses. Somehow my glasses once ended up underneath a mattress during a slumber party. I suppose those Leprechauns got to me too.

  18. What a way to end the night. These made me laugh Kim. Thanks for sharing what it is like to be the visionary (pun intended) that you are.

  19. LOL I love it, especially the guy who went on a rant. I’m reading the 4 hour work week, and one suggestion they have is instead of asking “how are you,” ask, “what can I do for you.” It’s more specific. People will go on and on about how they are if you keep letting them talk. BTW the word “shingles” just gives me the chills. It just sounds so icky. I think we all have jobs where we want to bang our head against the wall!

    • I am terrified of shingles. You can’t catch it if you’ve had chicken pox already, but to know it’s just waiting there ready to pop out under stress stresses me out. I swear I will get the vaccine if I can ever remember to have my doctor write a prescription for it. Unless you have a prescription, you can’t get it until you’re 60. I usually ask the patient what brings them in. I guess I was having a brain spasm.

  20. Kim those are great stories, got a friend in Tennessee who is an optometrist and he hears all kinds of interesting stories as well. I will have to say that he has received a lot of good investment ideas from some of the ole timers though! One of the biggest challenges of his job is knowing when to end the conversation so you can move on to the next patient, bet you experience that as well. Enjoyed the read!!

  21. This was a fantastic read, thanks for sharing. It had me giggling.

  22. Spouse showed me this blog so I ocassionally look at it. WOW – won’t be looking at this one ever again. I can not believe that you make fun of your patients – on the web – in such a callous manner. I’m an attorney and I’ve heard plenty, but I would NEVER in a million years “vent” at the expense of my clients. Shame on you!

    And you wonder why so many people hate doctors – of any type?????????????

    • I appreciate your opinion. Sharing stories is not in any way to make fun of my patients. I go to great lengths to take care of them. However, very commonly, patients have their own agenda that doesn’t always correlate with the best treatment options, and this was my attempt to add some humor to the everyday situations that I encounter. No, it is never funny to get glaucoma, but you have to take it with a grain of salt when you’ve had a long conversation with someone who is potentially going blind when all they are concerned about is getting a new frame or colored contact lenses. I think this post, if anything, makes fun of me in that I assume I am doing a good job of explaining myself and what gets said is certainly not what is heard or understood by many patients. I would think if I went to the doctor and pretended to be deaf so I didn’t have to answer any questions, the doctor is certainly entitled to find humor in that. I apologize if my intention seemed otherwise.

  23. It seems like being an optometrist would be a really interesting job. It would be cool to see how many different cases and scenarios you have to deal with. I would think that it would be kind of overwhelming to have to know how to handle so many different eye problems. I really respect workers that are able and willing to go into this field.

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