Mimi, my grandmother, used to say, “charge it to the sand and let the rain settle it.” She didn’t worry about anything that I recall. When boys came to court her four girls, she let them shoot at the bannister in the house with her BB gun so they wouldn’t be bored. (The marks are still there.) 

When an evangelist came to her door (she was 87) and asked her, “Ma’am, are you a Christian?” Mimi answered, “Hell, no, I’m a Presbyterian!” 

When she was 89, she told me her goal was to live to be “a hunderd” [sic] and then she wanted me to throw her under the train “up Montgomery.” She lived to 99 and 11 months. I was 30 days away from the penitentiary when she let me off the hook!

I wish I had inherited that kind of devil-may-care attitude. Instead, I have to consciously feed my frantic life with calm words, thoughts and deeds. It’s been a tussle, but I am actually pretty chill about life at this point. It only took 61 years. 

To navigate the next 20 years of medical care change in this country, you’d better get on board with how Mimi lived; you all need to find your happy place. 

The hardest part is when a lifelong diabetic comes in after skipping his eye exams for 10 years and, when you look in his eye, you see a large pepperoni pizza instead of a retina. Me? I wanna smack the tar out of him. Instead I just smile, tell him the truth and do whatever I can to help. OK, sometimes I do smack ’em. Whatever works. 

Mentally, almost all optometrists are usually somewhere between catatonic and freaked out. It’s our nature, education and genetics. And it’s also our choice. The question is, are you chill or not? Take this simple test to find out:

1. After a patient misses his third scheduled appointment, you:
a. Send him a get-well card. 
b. Refuse to reschedule him.
c. Wet your pants. 
d. Wet his pants. 

2. A patient has owed you $12 for six years. You: 
a. Write it off and move on.
b. Key his new car. 
c. Plan to write it off after hell freezes over.
d. Take it out of your office manager’s paycheck.

3. When a patient calls Saturday night about last Monday’s eye injury, you:
a. Meet him at the office that evening. 
b. Meet him the next morning.
c. Direct him to the nearest ER.
d. Suggest he flush his eye with river water.

4. When your aunt asks why you didn’t become a real doctor, you:
a. Tell her real doctors are slime. 
b. Explain D is for doctor. 
c. Ask her why her dog is so ugly. 
d. Laugh and give her a big hug. 

5. When you finally go for CE in Hawaii and it rains the whole weekend, you: 
a. Put on a coconut bra and grass skirt and hula in the rain.
b. Actually show up for the CE.
c. Plan your next CE in the Sahara Desert. 
d. Thank God for his healing rains. 

If you chose the angry and sarcastic options, you need to chill before your brain explodes. 

If you answered with nothing but sweetness, you may not be a perfectly calm optometrist, but you certainly are an excellent liar.