A Letter to my Work

Dear job,

I’ve got to say… you’ve taught me a lot over the years. My 5+ years of the ophthalmic world has taught me more about glaucoma, cataracts, and glasses prescriptions that I ever figured I’d want to know. People, too. You’ve taught me a lot about people.

Thanks for the people you’ve let me meet, like Sunny* who comes in with her squinty eyes and says in her Polish accent, “Today, I feehl like Meester MahGOO!” She hunches over her walker (A.K.A. her “Porsche”) and tells us all about the same eye problem over and over. The consistent chitter-chatter of this 98 year old product of WWII could be seen by some as pretty obnoxious. To be honest, I sometimes get tired of hearing the same thing over and over… but other times I’m smart enough to remember that she has been through more than enough in her years and I owe it to her to let her yammer a little bit. She was driven out of Poland by the Nazis, for goodness’ sake. Let her complain about her eyes a little.

And then there’s Blanca*: “Sveetee, I tell you dis! These doctors know nussing about nussing about nussing!” I think she’s about 100 years old and she just makes me laugh.

I’ve learned to be patient with sick people. One time, during December and January of this year, i got really sick with bronchitis and some other nasty stuff. I kept sneezing and coughing and not sleeping and trying every medication and herbal remedy I could get my hands on (including swallowing an entire clove of garlic with some Tumeric milk…it sure didn’t make me feel better, i can tell ya that much), and 2 months of this made me pretty cantankerous. I finally got over it, but it made me think that some of these people i come in contact with every day are probably pretty cranky after years of dealing with the crap they’re dealing with. If bronchitis deserves some slack, I’m pretty sure arthritis or heart disease or a blind eye deserves some, too.

Ah, but then there are those who seem to have EVERY ailment in the book, and their attitudes are like sunshine to my soul. A woman (who was not that old… early 50’s at best guess) last week came in with:

1.Graves Disease
2. Multiple Sclerosis
3. Aphakia (where you have no natural lens in your eye, which means even the thickest eyeglasses work only somewhat for you, if at all)
4. Glaucoma (simply, where the pressure inside your eyeball gets too high and you can lose vision from it, and she has)
5. Diabetes

And the list actually goes on. Dr. C. tells her, “what DON’T you have??” And she replies with a smile and a joke. She probably has a really hard time with it at times… in fact, I’m sure she does, because she’s human with the standard built-in emotions. But she doesn’t come in and take it out on the people around her (like plenty of others would). I guess what I’m trying to say is that you, my dear employment, have shown me what I DON’T want to be, even if I come down with every systemic disease and have every right to be a grump.

I don’t want to be a cranky b**ch when I’m old. Or when I’m young for that matter.

I could go on about all the things I’ve learned from you, job… and maybe in another post, I will. But for all the times that I’ve complained about you and not wanted to wake up to come see you, I owe quite a bit to you as far as helping me grow up. Thanks for that. And thanks for the coworkers and doctors that I’ve gotten to be around to see as examples of good (and not-so-good) people to admire.

Oh, and thanks for helping me pay my bills.

the retrospective ophthalmic assistant

*NOTE: the patients’ names included in this post were changed in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. So don’t worry. I didn’t break the law.


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