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    ‘What is it with these people?’

    Three memorable patient interactions provide lessons about managing odd encounters

     

    3. What does “normal” really look like?

    One day, our cornea clinic was hectic so I jumped in to help with the ever-growing mass of patients.

    When you work at a hospital, you tend to keep your eyes open and remain aware of your surroundings.

    The next patient I called had a familiar name, but I couldn’t place it.

    She was in her mid-forties, dressed for success, and had a pleasant smile. I had high hopes this would be a smooth exam.

    We went into an exam room and she said she was having headaches and thought maybe her eye glasses were getting weaker.

    The conversation was lovely until I asked her how old she was. My technician heard a thud from the next room, entered my room, and hit me in the head with the oak door—I was lying in front of it!

    “Maddy Hayes” had hit me with a right hook that I never saw coming.

    As I was clearing the cobwebs, I angrily asked her what was going on. She calmly replied she found it rude of me to be so forward in asking her age when I hardly knew her.

    Then it dawned on me: Maddy Hayes was the Cybill Shepherd role from the TV show “Moonlighting,” and this woman looked like a clone of Cybill Shepherd.

    Moral: Keep your eyes on the patient—especially the ones that appear “normal.” They are the ones who take you by surprise.

    When people ask me what I miss most about being a floor technician, my first response is: “Not the floor!”

    I am happy to report in my current role as clinical operations manager, I have never been on the floor, I do not lead any exam or discussion with someone’s age and, all ficus plants have been removed from the clinics.

    It has been smooth sailing ever since!

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