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    ‘What is it with these people?’

    Three memorable patient interactions provide lessons about managing odd encounters


    2. There really is a reason for everything—you just don’t know what it is yet.

    We had a gentleman who I will call Mr. Johnson who came to the retina clinic once a month for diabetes follow ups. He prided himself on his routine and attention to detail.

    One day, the receptionist raced back to the clinic and frantically announced Mr. Johnson had just relieved himself in the waiting room's ficus plant. She was aghast. Strangely, I thought it was funny.

    We removed the plant and I had housekeeping find another one. It was still rather amusing until he did it again the following month.

    Realizing we had an unsettling pattern occurring, I pulled Mr. Johnson into a room and asked him why he felt it necessary to do this every time he came to the clinic.

    He stated his job at home was to water the plants. His wife was always reminding him to water the plants, but she would admonish him not to water the ficus too much.

    He explained she recently passed away and he was missing her terribly. When he came to the clinic and saw the ficus, it reminded him to “water the plants.” So, he did.

    Moral: After shedding a tear with him, we changed the ficus plant to a large potted fern. We never had another recurrence. We sent the ficus home in a cab with him.

    What does "normal" really look like?

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