I thought “First Do No Harm” was part of the Hippocratic Oath all doctors took. I will put a reference below for anyone who wants to pursue this information.
I have cataracts. I’ve had them for years. My previous eye doctor said they were not growing as quickly as he’d expected, which meant I could postpone the cataract surgery I would eventually need.
When I had my eyes checked last year, the new doctor said I would need Cataract surgery within one to two years. So I began to check out cataract doctors. Always, when I’d ask someone who was the best cataract doctor/surgeon in the area, I’d was told the same name.
So I went to see this doctor after waiting twice for an appointment. The first time, I had an appointment on May 31, which would give me plenty of time to recover from both surgeries . . . they do one eye at a time . . . and get back to work in the school system when school began. My oldest had gotten May 31 off so she could go with me to the consult appointment. I found out on May 30 that my appointment had been canceled suddenly because the eye doctor’s son was getting married May 31, and the eye doctor wanted to go to the wedding. (Isn’t that the kind of event you plan/). The earliest next appointment they had was July 26. I explained how I needed the surgery – both of the surgeries – done over the summer. The receptionist repeated that was the earliest appointment she had. She repeated it until I fnally took it. I took an 8:15 am appointment so my oldest could go with me, but still get to work that day.
I was disappointed when I first walked into the eye doctor’s office. Both receptionists were on the phone and appeared to be too busy to help me. I sat down. My oldest got on her cellphone and went into oblivion. I watched the receptionists and listened to their side of the phone conversations. It seemed others had canceled appointments for the day and they were seeking people to come in early to fill those now vacant appointments. This went on continuously. The receptionists did not put the phone receiver down (they were using landlines) between calls, but quickly plunged down the button and made another call. I got up and walked to the counter again. They continued to ignore me. There were other patients sitting in the waiting area and I wondered how they had checked in? Finally I said loudly, “I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT.” The receptionists continued to ignore me and speak to whomever they were trying to convince to come in today for an earlier appointment. I repeated myself a little more loudly, “I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT!” One of the receptionists glanced at me, pointed to a clipboard on the end of the counter and with the mouthpiece of the phone receiver covered, she said, “Sign in on the clipboard”. I walked over to it and put my name on the next line. I went and sat with my oldest again.
“I thought I was supposed to be filling out health forms,” I said to her as she texted happily away. “What?” she asked. So I repeated myself again. “Probably,” she said with her eyes on her cellphone screen. Why was she here with me, I wondered.
I got up and walked back up to the counter. The two chatty Cathys were still at it asking if the people they had called would like to come in today since there had been a cancellation?
“Don’t I need to fill out some forms?” I asked the receptionist I was closest to. She happened to be ending one call and beginning another She glanced at me with an annoyed look.
“What?” she asked.
“Don’t I need to fill out some forms?” I repeated.
“Are you a new patient?” she asked.
I said yes and she pointed a finger at a stack of clipboards. She told me to take one of them.
I picked up the top one and looked around for a pen. I glanced at the receptionists, aka Chatty Cathys, and said loudly, “DO YOU HAVE A PEN?” The one who was clearly annoyed with me waved her hand towards a cup with flowers in it. “There,” she said. I picked up one of the flowers and a pen was attached to it. I went and sat down.
As I filled out the form, I mentiond various questions on it to my oldest. “It says ‘bleeding problems’, that’s my low platelet count, right?”
“I don’t know, probably” was the answer I got.
I checked yes to bleeding problems and put out beside it “low platelets”. I checked yes to asthma and also put down my two allergies. I checked yes to several conditions. Then I took the clipboard and forms back up to the receptionist. I had gotten out my insurance card because I knew she’d need it and when she awkwardly took the clipboard because she still had one hand on the phone receiver and one hand holding a pen, I shoved the insurance card with the clipboard. She frowned at that, but somehow managed to clip the insurance card with the forms.
I went and sat back down. My oldest continued to text and I sat and waited. If I had driven myself, I would have just left at that point. I asked my oldest if she wanted to leave? She kept her eyes on her cellphone screen and asked “why?”
A young man opened the waiting room door and called my name. “That’s us,” I told my texting child and we got up and followed him. He took me in a small room to do some tests. When he used eye drops in my eyes, I mentioned that I’d had a problem with eye drops before. “You’ll be fine,” he said. He didn’t ask what kind of eye drops or what symptoms I’d had. After he put the drops in, he had me put my chin in a chin holder and read some letters. He flashed terribly bright lights in my eyes. They were so bright they hurt. I complained and he continued to reassure me that he had to do these tests and please just hold still. He would put drops in my eyes, flash lights at them, and repeat until I was exhausted. Then he led me to a tiny room. There were three chairs on either side of the room, but the room itself was so tiny my knees were almost touching the person’s knees across from me. When a doctor came to get her, she insisted she had to see the main doctor . . . the one I’d been told was so good, so he said certainly, and disappeared. Then he came back and told her the main doctor could see her now. I mentioned to my oldest that my appointment would probably be delayed because of that.
We waited. Then we were finally led in to an exam room and waited some more. My oldest said she hoped he’d hurry up because she would be late for work, if he didn’t.
Finally the doctor came in. He looked briefly in each eye. He asked me which eye I thought was the worst. I said the right one. He frowned and said his technician said it was the left one. He flipped quickly through some papers and said it was the left one that was the worst with my glasses, but the right one was worst without my glasses. Which one would I like to get done first? I said the right one. He went through a spiel about lens and the surgery and asked if I had any questions. He told me to go back up front to schedule the surgery date.
The first date they had for surgery was August 20. It looked like I’d be having surgery and recovering all of September, if I had both eyes done. I asked couldn’t they do it sooner and the woman repeated that was the first date available. Then she scheduled the recheck appointment. I had read online that cataract surgery patients get rechecked the very next day. I mentioned this to her and she said as long as it was within a week. That was what mattered. So I took the recheck appointment for 4:00 pm on the Monday following Monday, August 20.
The eye doctor had said, when I told him those drops and bright flashes really bothered me, he’d said to be sure to get some sunglasses from his girls up front before I went outside. I was so ready to get out of there that I forgot until I walked out into the sunlight. I turned right back around and went back in and asked for some of those disposable dark film glasses to use. My eyes were really bothering me at that point.
My oldest drove me home, but didn’t have time to come inside. She drove off as I went into the house. As the afternoon went on, my eyes bothered me more and more. By 8:00 that evening, the whites of my eyes were very bloodshot and they were swelling. Around 11:00 pm I took a picture of my swollen eyes and wished my doctor’s office was open. I tried to lie down, but my eyes burned so bad I could not sleep. I kept getting up and checking them. I wished I had someone to drive me to the ER. I don’t drive at night when my eyes are fine; I knew I couldn’t drive the way they were swelling up. It looked like they were going to swell shut. I kept laying down and around 4:30/5:00 am, I completely quick breathing. I jumped up because I have sleep apnea and have quit breathing before, but this time I couldn’t get myself started back. I used my rescue inhaler. I used my flovent inhaler. I finally used my CPAP mask to blow air down my throat. Oh, blessed Jesus! I could finally breathe! I took an allergy pill. I wished I could drive to the ER. For some reason calling the Rescue Squad did not occur to me. I was shaking all over and confused and agitated. When my primary doctor’s office opened, I called and they told me to come in. He is half a mile from me. My eye doctor was in his Cary Office on Friday, if he was in at all, and I always get lost in Cary. I was going to the closest doctor I knew who could probably help.
First, do no harm. As an important step in becoming a doctor, medical students must take the Hippocratic Oath. And one of the promises within that oath is “first, do no harm” (or “primum non nocere,” the Latin translation from the original Greek.)Oct 14, 2015