What We’ve Got Here Is Failure To Communicate

I’ve noticed a certain disconnect between doctors and their patients. The doctors know what the patients are supposed to do, so of course the patients will also know AND be able to do it, right?


I began to realize this when I had foot surgery.

I woke up from general anesthesia. One lower leg and foot were encased in a plaster cast. When I was discharged two hours later, someone put me in a wheelchair, handed me a pair of crutches, and rolled me to the exit. They did not give me any instructions on how to use the crutches.

When I got home, I looked at the stairs leading up to the front door and thought, “That’s a nice house, I wonder who lives there? And why am I holding these wooden sticks?”

Then I had shoulder surgery. The pictures on the website for the facility showed a smiling young woman. She was smiling because she had her surgery (the same procedure I was about to have) and three days later she was able take care of her young family again.

I had the surgery and three months later still couldn’t use my right arm for anything but a doorstop.

Now I’ve had eye surgery. Actually the first of two procedures.

I know what you’re thinking: “Geez – what the hell? Are you falling apart or what?”

Yes I am, but that’s a different post.

The point is that part of the process is eye drops, lots of eye drops, three types of eye drops. At various times throughout the day, for three days before and 7 or 22 days after surgery. In diminishing amounts, depending on the type of eye drops. The doctor’s directions typed on the outside of the box seemed simple enough. “One drop 4 times a day for one week, then as instructed.”

Then I made the mistake of reading the fine print on the Patient Prescription Information sheet under “How To Use” (which was packed inside the box). Or rather, trying to. Because it’s fine print. And I have cataracts. So can’t read a damn thing.

With a lab-certified, giganto-magnifier I finally was able to make it out. I was not encouraged.

1. Wash hands.

2. Do not touch the dropper tip. Do not let dropper tip touch your eye. Do not let the dropper tip touch anything or your eye might eventually explode.

3. If you wear contact lenses don’t and talk to your doctor before going any further.

4. Tilt your head back, look upward, and pull down the lower eye lid to make a pouch.

5. Hold the dropper directly over the pouch and place 1 drop into the pouch.

6. Try to figure out how to place 1 drop into the pouch because you have cataracts in both eyes which means you can’t see squat close-up without your glasses and you can’t wear your glasses because then the drop wouldn’t fall into the pouch. After randomly squeezing enough drops onto your face so that one of them eventually falls into the eye, proceed to step 7.

7. Look downward and gently close your eyes for 1 to 2 minutes.

8. Place one finger at the corner of your eye (near the nose) and apply gentle pressure.

9. Try to figure out how to do step 8 without pushing on your eye because your doctor has told you that whatever you do, absolutely, positively do NOT push on your eye.

10. Try not to blink and do not rub your eye even though the side effects include irritation, burning, and stinging of the eye. And because your doctor has told you that whatever you do, absolutely, positively do NOT push on your eye.

11. Go to pharmacy to get refill because you used up half the bottle trying to get 1 goddamn drop into your eye.

12. Follow detailed calendar regarding eye drops for 22 days. For each eye.

13. Wonder if you could survive without getting second surgery.

Just kidding. I know I have to go through with it. I just wonder what the doctor thinks when his patients ask for a dozen refills of this stuff.


Posted on July 7, 2012, in Commentary, health care, Humor, Other. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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