Family Memories

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO January 27, 2012

An odd thing has happened over my nearly 30 years of practice…my patients are getting older (and so am I). It has been a remarkable transformation. In many ways, I think it is quite similar to what we experience as our own families get older. Everyone seems quite the same but also quite different. And what I have come to appreciate most about my family of patients is the memories that we share. God love ‘em!

Mrs. Jones now has 14 grandchildren, to add to the 4 kids she had when I first met her. We certainly need time to look at pictures of all 14. Mr. Smith has gone from a 2 handicap golfer to a sandbagging 8, but we still talk about our new putters. Little Jenny is a pediatrician; I would have sworn she was still a girl scout. And Ken, he just did the wiring for my office remodel. Wasn’t I just telling him not to stick his finger in the outlet while his mother had her eyes examined? What is going on here? 

I should point out that some things seem to never change. Mrs. Johnson is still wearing the same frame which she has had for 22 years by my best estimate. And then there is Bob. Bob still wants to wear contact lenses despite the fact that he is yet to get either eye open during many attempts at contact lens training. Mr. Black still cannot understand why he can’t find a pair of over the counter reading glasses he likes, despite his 3 diopters of against the rule cylinder. “What’s the big thing about “stigmatizm” anyhow? Do I have one?” 

What will our patients remember about their visit today? Computers, photography, electronic medical records…progress? Well, there is no question that new technology helps us in our work, but it is hard to explain why I spent more time staring at my computer while trying to complete the EMR than I did looking at the new fishing fly which Mr. Clark brought in for me to see. He was all excited about his new fly, less so about my new digital camera. And then there was little Johnny. The first time he smiled during his appointment was when I walked outside to see his new puppy? Where do I record that in the EMR?

I have heard lots of family experts talk about how important is to make memories for our kids. It is the memories and shared experiences that form the bond which we call family. One thing I know is true: In this fast-paced, electronic, digital, always-connected world, it is good to remember that we need to make memories for our optometric families. There is no substitute for looking my patient in the eye, making a connection, and making a memory…talk about a great recall program. :)

Tags:  patient care

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