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    ‘What is it with these people?’

    Three memorable patient interactions provide lessons about managing odd encounters

     

    1. Things are not always as they seem!

    While at the VA Eye Clinic, I had a day that was really starting to grind me down . . . and it was only 10:30 A.M.

    I put away the surgery scheduling book and wandered into the clinic to take a little respite and see some patients.

    Clinic was bustling so I went to the waiting area to retrieve the next patient.

    When I called his name, this jaunty, smiling gentleman, sitting tall in his wheelchair and wearing his Vietnam Booney hat waved his hand and said: “How about a ride Sarge?!” (The veterans called me that due to my sunny personality.)

    I wheeled him into a cubicle to begin his exam. As I started his intake, I noticed he had a plaid blanket on his lap and his polished boots were pointing towards me. He was smiling, I was smiling, and all seemed right in the world.

    I asked if he needed help transferring to the exam chair and he said, “Nope. Done it a million times.” I turned to write in the chart when I saw him start to fall from his wheelchair. I reached my arm over to keep him upright when he frantically grabbed my hand and twisted my right thumb over by my pinky.

    I awoke on the ground 10 minutes later with one of my technicians saying: “Director, get up. This is no time to be taking your break!”

    I spent the rest of the summer in an arm cast extending to my elbow!

    That day, while his feet were pointing forward, his upper legs were not in his prosthetic devices. He was more comfortable leaving them out and forgot to put them back. I was not paying attention because I believed he had “done it a million times,” not realizing those other times his legs were attached.

    Moral: Don’t be lulled by what appears normal—that’s when you are in for some big surprises.

    There really is a reason for everything—you just don't know it yet

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