Today at work (I work for an ophthalmologist) I pulled back a patient who was notorious in my practice. He missed a surgery date because he was in prison, showed up drunk to an appointment once, and lets everyone know about how crack doesn’t work for him anymore. However, he is also freaking hilarious. He always says, “So, now is the time for us to go eye-ball to eye-ball, eh?” and it cracks me up every time. At first I was reluctant to help this man because patients like him often are frustrating to treat–they forget to take eye drops and miss appointments, which increases their risk of losing their eyesight and makes our efforts fruitless.
Today, however, I realized how much he needed our help. He took off his glasses, which looked more like biker goggles than glasses. For the first time, I noticed the thick lenses taped to the frame–they were so large that he probably had to tape them in place so they wouldn’t fall out. This man couldn’t see worth a darn until he had cataract surgery. Now, he sees much better, and his other eye diseases are under control, improving his chances of having vision for the rest of his life.
Seeing this helped me want to treat this man instead of run in the other direction–I saw a different person inside of him instead of just a drug addict or drunk. I saw someone who genuinely needed help, and who benefited from the treatment we gave him. This experience taught me how important it is to give each patient the best care possible. So, we treated him like we would any other patient, and just crossed our fingers that he will remember to take his drops and come back for his next appointment…not drunk.