Some days, working as a Technical Coordinator for a high level Ophthalmologist in the New York area can be quite emotional. The word "Tears" comes up quite frequently in my daily routine. "My eyes tear too much" "My eyes feel dry, like I have no tears", etc.
This past week I had two separate instances where patients were literally crying in our office and me being the mush that I am, cried right long with them. It brought "tearing" to a whole new level for me.
Patient Number 1 comes in. 60+ year old male patient. Had a misdiagnosed stroke at the age of 19 and permanently lost sight in his right eye. Last summer, he noticed diminished vision in his left eye. At the time, he had no health insurance, so he waited until he was eligible for Medicare to seek treatment. He was convinced it was "just a cataract." He was sure if he could just wait until he had coverage, we could schedule the surgery and he would be as good as new. Much to my surprise, upon the routine cataract consult testing, I discovered that at some point in the past, he had also had a stroke in his only sighted eye. I was pretty sure this happened months or years ago and there would be limited treatments, if any, available to him. As much as I tried to put on my poker face, I knew that he knew that he had jeopardized his vision due to the health care crisis Americans are facing today. He was crying when I left the exam room and I was crying for him.
Patient Number 2 needed cataract surgery. But she did not believe she needed it. Probably due to her fear, she put it off for a long time. She had a very strong eyeglass prescription and was reliant on her glasses on a daily basis. She was one of those patients who tended to be a tad bit difficult, just a little argumentative mixed in with a bit of perfectionism. After many discussions with the surgical coordinator and the eye surgeon, she decided to have the surgery last week. At her one day Post Op appointment her vision was perfect at distance with no glasses. She sobbed in the exam chair, wondering why she waited so long, why she gave our doctor such a hard time, why she did not listen to us and do this sooner. Thrilled with the outcome, she cannot wait to have her other eye done next week.
While my heart broke for the patient who ultimately will become a statistic of the health care issues we are facing now, I actually shed a few tears of joy for the patient who had the cataract surgery. Same day, two different patients who walked through our doors and each one's lives were changed in completely different ways...forever.
Mary Tart is a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant (C.O.A.) and the Chief Ophthalmic Technician at OCLI Huntington Eye Care in Huntington, New York. She loves people (especially her family), music (especially Bruce Springsteen), and Disney.