Tag Archives: communication

Things not to say to the ophthalmology nurse

Having finally decided to commit to cataract surgery, I made an appointment with the ophthalmologist to set it up. Perhaps to encourage me to stay committed, they presented me with the consent form—although nothing is making me show up, it’s much harder to think of changing my mind now that I’ve signed the paperwork. Consent forms are the sort of thing I make myself read through even at the best of times, which a Mercury retrograde period is not, so I plunged in. There were no real surprises in the form, not counting the one reference to hysterectomies.* I acknowledged that the doctor isn’t guaranteeing good results, that he discussed the risks with me, and so on. They swear they’ll ask me my name before the surgery begins, which is reassuring, although I hope they also ask me which eye the cataract is in.

Amongst all these disclaimers and promises, the form stated that any tissues or organs removed in the course of surgery “will be disposed of in a respectful manner.” Until I read that, I’d never given that issue any thought. But that phrase conjured up images of a tiny coffin—dark wood, lined in pink satin, and about the size of a sugar cube—in which my cataracted lens would be laid to rest. It would be marked with a wee gravestone, commemorating my lens’s lifespan. A chip of marble would do nicely, perhaps a scrap from a full-sized gravestone.

Graveyard.

Like this, only smaller. Lots smaller. (photo credit: Mike Schaffner via photopin cc)

My only explanation for what happened next was my growing nervousness. As the reality of what I was doing sank in (omg, i’m really going through with this? eye surgery? how soon? ack!), I started to ramble out loud. The poor nurse got to hear about the micro-coffin. He looked up from his computer and I could see him mentally reviewing my last sentence or two. And then there was that second where he must have decided that no, I really wasn’t making sense.

He stared.

I shrugged, smiled tightly, and flipped over the next page of the consent form to continue reading.

(Note to self: be really, really mundane when at medical appointments.)

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*How many of you went back to the first sentence to verify that I’d said “cataract surgery”?