If you could walk in my shoes, and look through my eyes, as I daily fight the good fight in the trenches of primary care in America, you might see something like this:
It would begin with a fight between two homeless men, probably over some spare change or a scrap of food, under the I-565 bridge. One of them, a 61-year-old black male, would get the worst end of the exchange–a fist fit neatly into the orbit of his right eye, his assailant’s bare knuckles impacting like rocks from a slingshot.
The concussive force of the blow would send a shock wave through the eye and crystalline lens, which is about the size and shape of a plain M&M candy.… Read the rest
When an eye doctor goes blind, there are no special dispensations or exemptions. He does it just like everybody else–one eye at a time.
My recent self-diagnosis of a retinal tear in my right eye took a colorful, and ominous, turn on July 4th. I was driving around Huntsville when a blood vessel which crossed the area of the retina that was treated with laser burst open like a uncapped oil well. No black gold or Texas Tea, Jed, just blood.
It started with a single red ribbon which began to flow upward from my inferior visual field. Other scarlet streaks soon joined it, each dividing into tributaries and tendrils which filled my clear field of view with smoky-red smudge.… Read the rest
I consider myself a better than average ocular diagnostician. Whenever my technician or an intern comes into my office and tells me a patient’s history and describes the patient’s signs and symptoms, I usually know what is wrong without even looking. I am like Carnac the Magnificent, only with a white coat and head-mounted ophthalmoscope instead of a cape and feathered turban.
In my head, I generate a list of three to four possible diagnoses and rank them according to their probability. If it is my technician, I tell him what I think is most likely going on and perhaps ask him to perform another test or two and then dilate the patient’s pupils.… Read the rest
If someone had asked me in 1957, in the early days of the American civil rights movement when passions were rising to fever pitch, to put my name on the line for desegregation and make one small step toward integration, would I have signed?
Bottom line, I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of: Nine hundred and forty-six Harding students, faculty and staff did, and I’m proud of each and every one of them and thankful for the progress that my alma mater has made since those difficult days.… Read the rest
Ain’t it like most people? I’m no different
We love to talk on things we don’t know about
“Ten Thousand Words” –The Avett Brothers
In a perfect world, each of us would have both a personal trainer and a personal editor; the former for our obesity, the latter for our verbosity.
I’ve seen America fatten right before my very eyes. As a grunt on the front lines of primary health care over the past 25 years, I know first hand the effects of increased sedentary lifestyles and the “cornucopia” of processed and fast foods available at nearly every turn with just the swipe of a credit card.… Read the rest
I first heard the term “Birth Control Glasses” or “BCGs” in the early 1990s when I started practicing optometry with the US Government. I was around 30 years old, married, with two sons and one on the way. Fortunately, I had already “spread my seed.”
Because if I hadn’t, I feel sure that merely touching those brown, butt-ugly, godawful, googly-eyed monsters would have struck me impotent. When I first laid eyes on them, I understood immediately why a whole generation of young men had dodged the draft and sought refuge in Canada.
For decades, military-issue eye wear has been as much a rite of passage for new recruits as screaming drill sergeants, 5:00 AM PT and MREs.… Read the rest
I smelled it long before I saw it. You’ve seen those cartoons where the character catches a whiff of a powerful, pleasant odor and suddenly rises off the ground, borne along by the fumes like a slave in chains. That was me, right before lunchtime a couple of days ago in my clinic.
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter. I’m used to the pungent odor of burned popcorn coming from the break room microwave, but this was different; more like Sunday brunch at the Ritz. It was deep brown, slightly crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, seasoned with just the right amount of rosemary, garlic and basil.… Read the rest
In the aftermath of the tornadoes in Alabama, armies of Good Samaritans have rushed to our aid with a million good deeds. Taking up their various instruments of mercy, they have come to attention as the Master Conductor has waved his wand, and the resultant symphony of compassion has been sweet, soothing music to our ears.
But they say “no good deed goes unpunished.” “They” are right.
When cell phone service returned to near normal two days after the storm struck, I downloaded my email and saw that a local church was offering an 8:00 AM communion service followed by an opportunity to go into the tornado-stricken areas around Harvest north of town and help out.… Read the rest
Last Friday, the most powerful man in the world and his wife were walking through the debris-strewn streets of Tuscaloosa, Alabama when they came upon two university students picking through the remains of what had formerly been their apartment. Looking up, the students’ eyes widened in surprise as they struggled to mentally digest this extraordinary development.
President Obama stuck out his hand in greeting, and the two students quickly gathered themselves, took off their gloves which were coated with a patina of dust and fiberglass, and held out their own in return. In doing so, they touched the hand that only hours before had been lifted in command, setting into motion events that reaped their own powerful whirlwind in a far distant land.… Read the rest
My name is Dr. Michael Brown, aka “Mike the Eyeguy,” and I’m an optometrist who has always loved Disney characters and small, remote planets.
I would never kill Pluto. I may be more of a Goofy Man myself, but I have no interest in dissing Mickey Mouse’s lesser-known pet pooch. Nor have I supported demoting poor little Pluto from the status of noble, outermost outpost planet, guarding the far boundaries of our Solar System from alien invasion, to a mere member among many in the Kuiper belt, a rather shady band of steroid-enhanced asteroids and dwarf planets.
The answer is: Yes. In fact, he’s been “in da house” since Monday. Sick. Out of commission. Down for the count.
It didn’t used to be that way. In my younger doctor days, I would often work through “the crud” because I was convinced that I was indispensable and that my patients would go blind if I wasn’t in the office. So I would trudge in, snot dripping, coughing, wheezing and croaking from the inevitable laryngitis that would set in after a few days. I was careful and often wore a mask, but still, put yourself in my patients’ shoes. I had no trouble getting my patients to open their eyes on days like that.… Read the rest
It was another morning at Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala, and another case of mistaken identity.
There had been a lot of that going around that week. Since I was doing all the preoperative exams, I had spent the most time with the patients. Many of them thought I was the Big Tamale, the Chief Gringo–The Top Gun. Once they were sedated and lying under the operating microscope waiting for their cataracts to be removed, Dr. C was merely the Upside-Down Man behind the mask.
In reality I was Goose to Dr. C’s Maverick, monitoring a million different things and make sure young Mav was constantly exposed to a “target-rich environment.”… Read the rest
It is approximately 1,436 miles as the plane flies from Huntsville, Alabama to Clinica Ezell in Guatemala, but “Señor Gruñon” was making me feel right at home.
I had once again traveled the road to Montellano, Guatemala to participate in an eye surgery medical mission (Code name: “Operación de Ojos Claros) in conjunction with health professionals representing Health Talents International and a team of students from Lipscomb University, the University of Alabama and the University of West Florida.
I was scooting across the poorly-lit, humid waiting room on a stool which reminded me of a shopping cart with one, misdirected rogue wheel and browsing for the biggest, ripest cataracts in all the land, the kind that literally block out the sun like a noonday eclipse.… Read the rest