In mid-April, as I sit here in Lewisville, Texas, more or less on house arrest with my wife as my terrifyingly effective warden, how I spend my time during COVID-19 has been whittled down to just a few things. Four, actually: 

  1. I start my day with meditation and yoga. By meditation and yoga I mean I spend two hours yawning and complaining about my stiff back while on hold waiting for a very pleasant but hapless IRS agent to come on and tell me, again, that they cannot discuss my deceased mother’s missing 2017 tax refund because they haven’t received the form I submitted three times. Did I mention I have two separate letters from the IRS thanking me for submitting the forms that have not been received? 
  2. After my meditation and yoga, I stare at my phone.  
  3. Once I have completed that critical task, I stare at my computer. 
  4. Whew! All done and exhausted. Time for either a nap or a Bloody Mary. So far, I haven’t chosen a nap. I also am not infected with COVID-19, so my Bloody Mary vaccinations are apparently working. The CDC has not returned my calls. 

Now, back to optometry. Remember optometry? After several weeks of a forced furlough from private practice, I actually recall more details related to my four years playing baritone horn for the “Magnificent 70 Marching Band” at the now-defunct Montgomery High School in Montgomery, West Virginia. Ahh, yes, the Magnificent 70. All 40 of us. No wonder I had trouble with physiological optics at Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Ciphering was not a strong subject in the Fayette County coalfields. 

My Calling, Revealed

In truth, I only know how to be an optometrist. I only know how to help patients. With my two Texas offices closed except for emergency care (it’s not my turn to help yet), I miss my patients, my coworkers and my colleagues—the OD business owners who are, no doubt, struggling to keep the offices above water. 

These fine young doctors are not wearing hazmat equipment dealing with critical life-and-death decisions at one of our overwhelmed hospitals and nursing facilities. However, within the sphere of health care that resides behind the front lines of this war, the optometrists, dentists, chiropractors and all the others have their own—our own—mission: do whatever we can do whenever we can do it, to protect our patients and to be there for them now, in emergencies and, later, when our country will need us to get the whole healthcare system back in gear.  

My friends, you have a mission, and it’s not loafing around eating too many cookies out of boredom. Be ready. Make sure your practices survive and especially make sure you are ready to thrive again soon. Be hopeful, love on your family members, friends, staff members and colleagues… whether or not they are hiding the cookies from you. It’s for your own good. 

You should be proud of what you contribute to our country.  

And, well, try to laugh as much as you can each day. I’ll do my best to help you laugh again with “Chairside” as soon as I get off the phone with the IRS.