Category: Health Care

The All-Important First Touch, Part II

The following is a talk I gave at the Health Talents International Breakfast, Lipscomb University, Nashville, TN on 7/2/10.


Thank you for your introduction, Marie.

I’m a little of a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to direct involvement with Health Talents International, but it’s certainly been on my radar for many years. We came to know Marie and Carl Agee through Cahaba Valley Church of Christ during my student days at the UAB School of Optometry in the late 80s. We were a mac & cheese, beans & weenies poor student family back then, especially after Sandy retired from being a full time CPA to take care of our newborn son.… Read the rest

Alabama Casera Dulce?

I don’t always speak Spanish, but when I do, I prefer having Jose Rafael Rodriguez (aka, my translator “Danny”) somewhere in the immediate vicinity. I am neither the most interesting man in the world, nor the most bilingual.

I tried to memorize enough Spanish eye care phrases to get by on my recent trip to Guatemala, but despite my best efforts and intentions, I found myself leaning hard on Danny. I would usually start out the day doing a passable job-abre sus ojos (“open your eyes”), mira arriba (“look up”) –but as things got hot and busier and I became increasingly fatigued, I started to mangle my rote phrases more and more.… Read the rest

Good “Gettin’ Around” Vision

“What do you want me to do for you,” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

–Mark 10: 51

Like Blind Bartimaeus, all Marta wanted was to be able to see. She was no whiny yuppie who would be satisfied with nothing less than 20/20 post-LASIK. She just wanted good enough.

Good enough to see the faces of her family, especially the grandchildren. Good enough to take in the vibrant green of the Guatemalan countryside and the eye-catching reds, blues, oranges and yellows of the local marketplace where her friends would gather to sell their handcrafted wares.… Read the rest

Señor García’s One-Stop Shopping

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

–Matthew 7:3-5

I once had a war hero sitting in my exam chair who had survived all manner of jungle ambushes but was dying from an inoperable brain tumor.… Read the rest

Doyouseemenastrees? Reflections on Mark 8:22-25

(This is Part 2 of a series on our recent trip to Clinica Ezell in Montellano, Guatemala. Part 1 can be found here. The following are remarks that I delivered to the HTI Eye/Ortho Team on March 17, 2010 during evening devotional).

First off, thank you Cameron for having my back tonight. He loaned me his Bible after I forgot mine.  I didn’t want to stand up here and scroll through my Bible app on my iPhone–I thought that would look, uh, “unprofessional” (pointing to my Bama ball cap and scrubs).

I just want to clear up one more thing before I get started.… Read the rest

The Road to Montellano Leads Straight Through My Heart

The road to Montellano, Guatemala started in a small, dingy-gray room on the 11th floor of Roanoke Memorial Hospital on April 2nd, 2009. It was there around 5:00 AM that I held my mother’s head in my hands and shouted words of love and farewell over her as she drew her last breath in this life.

You don’t travel into the Valley of the Shadow with someone and then back out again without being changed forever. The Reaper’s sickle passes so close to your own skin that you feel its wind. It cuts, and if you’re standing near enough, you bleed.… Read the rest

Sometimes Only a Buzzword Will Do

I literally groaned when my clerk handed me the plastic reference card to place on my houndstooth lanyard. If you work for the government or a large corporation, you know what I’m talking about.

Those lovely little laminated jewels have all the answers to every conceivable scenario or crisis. Surrounded by a 10-foot wall of flames? No problem. Just remember–“R-A-C-E” (Remove, Activate, Confine, Extinguish) and “P-A-S-S” (Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep).

Of course, by the time you fumble through them, find the right one and read it, the point is moot because now you’re soot.

“Don’t worry,” he said as he watched me reach around and rub my neck in anticipation of the extra weight. … Read the rest

Parker v. Parker: “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”

The race for the Alabama 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Bud Cramer has been one of the nastiest that I’ve witnessed in a long time. The two candidates, Republican Wayne Parker and Democrat Parker Griffith, have spent considerably more time and money slinging mud and impugning the other’s character than they have actually talking about themselves, their qualifications and exactly how they plan to help their constituents once they’re in office (Update: please see my correction to this paragraph in the comments section).

Just how bad has it been? So bad that even the editorial board at the Huntsville Times is fed up and has refused to endorse either candidate.… Read the rest

*Beep*…Dear Dr. P., I Won’t Be Coming Today

I suddenly realized a few minutes ago that I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned at noon today. Long time readers may recall how I feel about that.

I’m really (ahem) “way too busy” to make that one this time, so I called and left the following message:

Hey, Cindy (the receptionist), it’s Mike the Eyeguy. Look, you know how much I value good dental hygiene, probably as much as the next guy, but I was looking at my teeth last night, and really, the coffee stains aren’t that bad (sort of a light beige rather than the usual dark brown) and they’re only a few pieces of the previous six months’ meals stuck in the crevices, so really, I’m in pretty good shape.

Read the rest

Who Is That Masked Athlete?

TWSJ gives us the answer.


UPDATE: I could see this coming a mile away. And it only took less than 24 hrs.

This sort of reminds me of that time back in ’78 when I and the rest of the Franklin County High School cross country team brought several bottles of lime Gatorade to drink at lunch on the afternoon of that big meet at Northside High.

Assistant Principal Hodges spotted the glass bottles and confiscated them and we were forced to apologize for violating the “no glass containers in the lunchroom” policy.

By the way, it was 95 degrees that day, and on the way home from the meet (we lost), the team bus had to stop at Roanoke Memorial Hospital so that I could get IV fluids for my heat exhaustion.… Read the rest

The Morning Slog

homer_running-754097.jpgIt’s August in Alabama, and that means triple digit heat indexes all across the state over the next few weeks. It’s sauna city the instant you step out the door, and then just try doing anything. The gurus at Nike haven’t even conceived of wicking fabric that can pump away the gallons of sweat produced on a typical Deep South “dog days of summer” afternoon.

That makes exercise in this stuff particularly tricky. Do I go for a morning run and deal with 90% + humidity and less heat, or do I wait until the evening when there’s typically less humidity but the temperatures often stay in 90s up until the time the sun sets?… Read the rest

Like Bloodletting, Only a Lot Less Messy

I managed to make it through an entire winter of seeing patients with various upper respiratory infections, colds and flu without getting sick myself. I credit that to lots of vitamins, exercise, good diet, washing my hands like an obsessive-compulsive, occasionally masking-up if a patient is really cruddy and probably the most important factor of all–good ol’ fashioned dumb luck.

My luck has run out apparently, because I’m sicker than a dog this week. It started with a tickle in my throat Sunday night, progressed to fountain-like snot-works on Monday, and by Tuesday I was generally weak, lethargic and unable to breath beyond that which was necessary for minimal life support.… Read the rest

Wake Up and Run For Your Life

Numbers One, Two and I ran the Cotton Row Memorial Day Run in downtown Huntsville this past Monday. None of us had been running much lately (I’ve had a bad case of “turf toe” since February), so a 5K for fun (and to get the t-shirt) seemed about right. We were running late, so we ended up at the back of the pack at the start.

As we stood there waiting for the gun to go off, we suddenly heard the people around us applauding and cheering. We looked up and saw the very last 10K finisher (it had started nearly 2 hours before) crossing the finish line.… Read the rest