Have you ever invented something? An idea no one has used before? In my experiences with ODs I would say we, as a rule, are hesitant when it comes to, well, sticking our necks out. That makes perfect sense, as we can easily feel like our profession has a target on our collective backs with the requirements to be held to the same practice responsibility as ophthalmologists while those folks often battle to make sure we cannot legally provide the care that meets our level of responsibility in the courts. 

Then, we see our so-called colleagues offering “free examinations” or “online, offsite virtual care” where no doctor at all is required for ordering corrective lenses, lowering the bar on quality of care so Generation Lazy doesn’t have to put on pants to get eyecare and eyewear. 

Looming over all is the almighty government, which seems to be doing all it can to convince us that all we have is theirs and that, like Vikings, we will die a glorious death and end up in Valhalla as long as we continue to follow orders. 

My wife and I have stopped grumbling and groveling. Instead, we have created a slogan for our lives. Now, we replace our angst by using the phrase, philosophy and humor of (wait for it!)… YAWMAO.

I feel better already. Now, this trademarked image is indeed pronounced just the way it looks above: YAW + MAO (as in Chairman Mao), but it actually looks a little different than it is spelled. Think of this sequence of letters (and one symbol): “Y A W M (INSERT PICTURE OF A DONKEY) O.” 

Dr. Montgomery Vickers

ODs are very educated and although our minds may be more filled with math and science than Shakespeare, we all had to take that dreaded freshman English Lit class, so what is another word for “donkey”? No, not “state legislator.” Try again! Get it? Take your time. It will come to you. Speaking of “you,” the first letter in YAWMAO stands for “you” and the last word is “out.” Run with that! Oh, and there’s an “are wearing my” in there somewhere.

Once you get it, you will see how just grinning and saying YAWMAO out loud can be used to lighten your mood in any crazy encounter, whether it be with your patient who tells you in October they never could wear the glasses they got somewhere else in January, with your spouse, your kids, your kid’s kids, etc. 

In my family, this catchphrase has morphed into a verb, as in “My kids are YAWMAOing me!” It has become a noun… “Life is full of surprises, so get your YAWMAO on!” It’s a call to action… “Don’t let life get you down. YAWMAO more!”

Here are some examples of how YAWMAO can help:

1. That patient who gave you a one-star review because you were running 15 minutes behind last year when she came in… well, she’s coming in again this year. YAWMAO!

2. The staff waited until Monday to order a supply of multipacks that would put you into the bonus level with your contact lens lab had she ordered them on Friday. YAWMAO!

3. The last patient of the week shows up 20 minutes late and opts for dilation instead of widefield photography. YAWMAO!

4. That patient who comes in for a glaucoma evaluation brings her screaming four-year-old twins along. YAWMAO!

5. Your wife surprises you on the warmest, sunniest Saturday of the winter by telling you she has you signed up for a Be a Great Husband all day event at the church. (Once I get through the aforementioned great husband training, I will get her back.) YAWMAO!

6. The computers are down. YAWMAO YAWMAO YAWMAO!!!!

7. After starving yourself for a week, you gained two pounds. YAWMAO!

8. The IRS would like to meet you. YAWMAO!

I could go on and on, but you get the drift. When life throws you the inevitable and unavoidable crap that drives you crazy, you need something other than a drop of beta-blocker under your tongue. Just mutter YAWMAO and watch things get better.

Dr. Vickers received his optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 1979 and was clinical director at Vision Associates in St. Albans, WV, for 36 years. He is now in private practice in Dallas, where he continues to practice full-scope optometry. He has no financial interests to disclose.