You would think I’ve seen and heard just about everything that could possibly come along. I found a dead bug embedded in the conjunctiva of a patient whose chief complaint was that his eye was “bugging” him. His words. 

I sparred with a patient who kept repeating, while reading letters on the Snellen chart, “It’s awful” no matter what lens I tried. It took me a couple of minutes to realize the letters were O-F-L… ooh, “awful.” He cracked up at his prank. 

I’ve practiced a full day with two different shoes on, with my fly unzipped and with all manner of food in my mustache. I once asked a patient if his eyes were always that red and he told me, “No, just since I smelled your breath.” At least the pizza I had was phenomenal. 

I adjusted glasses on an embalmed patient at the visitation service. I was asked to be the minister at a wedding. I once assumed the initials CP at the top of a patient’s chart represented a nickname and not a reference to her cerebral palsy.  

I had a prim 60-year-old lady ask me if I knew anything about “alternative medicine.” When I stuttered some generic answer, she pulled her dress up to her waist. As I shoved it back down, I exclaimed, “I’ve been married for over 20 years and I still don’t know anything about that!”

I have diagnosed Peyronie’s disease for a hapless soul who got optometry confused with urology.  The two pairs of new glasses did not help! (That’s a joke, by the way. I mean, they may have helped, who knows?) I recommended a colonoscopy for a patient based on his retinal findings and he did indeed have early-stage colorectal cancer. 

I got so mad at an elderly patient’s no-good son that I challenged him to meet me out back for a fight (Don’t be impressed. The police station was also out back. But, for the record, he didn’t show, the chicken!).

Lessons From a Goat

But, I never really spent time in my office with a goat. Until this week. 

In the Dallas area of Texas where I now practice, you can be driving through the city and see some bison, longhorn cattle or horses grazing beside a law office. Turns out if you own an empty lot, you have to pay heavy taxes. If you throw a sheep or something on there, it’s taxed like farm acreage at a much lower rate.  

So, owning some farm animals is a good idea here in Texas. One of my wonderful technicians showed up this week with a little newborn goat. He was born a runt and the mom, instinctively only saving the strong for the benefit of the herd, decided she would just not take care of him. 

I guess nature has a plan so, unfortunately, the little fellow didn’t make it. We were all sad but understood it simply wasn’t his time. Maybe he was just meant to give us all a smile for a day.

His short but seemingly stress-free life made us all appreciate the days we have, even with the strange and unusual events that punctuate the practice. And, I can now add to my list that, unlike any other optometrist in the world, I have stated, right in my office and during the care of patients that, “The goat died.” 

To me, this puts the misplaced progressive right back in its place.  

So, no matter what weird stuff is going on in your practice, something weirder will appear. And, as the goat taught us, time is short. Enjoy even the strange and unusual moments that you have had and that you will certainly have in the future.