Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sometimes it's not what you say.....

Last Wednesday I saw the ENT about those vertigo episodes I mentioned. Interspersed within the following condensed conversation, there was discussion of history, symptoms, etc, but note the focus.

Dr. M: The ENG report is basically normal. So how long has it been since you've had an eye exam?

Me: About a year, I think. (Thinking "About time to call the doctor, I suppose")

Dr. M: You really should have an eye exam. (looks at report again). How long did you say it's been since you had your eyes examined?

Me: A year. No, wait, I fell down twice in 3 days last fall and thought it was because of my bifocals, so I went to one of those optical places to get some plain distance vision glasses for walking. I had an eye exam in October. (Thinking: "OK, I'll call tomorrow and see my regular Optometrist.")

Dr. M: Well, I think you really should have your eyes examined again. We'll get an MRI of your head to make sure there's nothing wrong in your ears that we've missed, but I think everything is fine. Here's the order

Me: Couldn't hurt. (Wondering now if I should call the Optometrist I've been seeing or make an appointment with an Ophthalmologist)

Dr. M: Let me see that a minute (takes the MRI order back and writes "To be read by Neuro radiologist only". Underlines Only. Twice. Then hands me the chart to carry out to the desk)

OK, so what would you do? The ENT told me 3 times in less than 5 minutes that I needed an eye exam even though I'd had 2 in just over a year. Me? I flipped open the chart on the way out and read the ENG report. I don't pretend to understand those things, but under "impressions" the words "potentially ophthalmic/retinal in origin" leapt out at me.

Then I did what any self-respecting hypochondriac would do. I called the nearest internationally reknowned eye center and made an appointment for the following Monday.

The eyes are normal. The Ophthalmologist at the internationally reknowned eye center was very understanding. He didn't snicker once. He was VERY reassuring, but I have a feeling that when he wrote down the chief complaint it went something like this:

"Acute hypochondria, exacerbated by referring physician."

So is there a tactful way to tell the ENT he needs to tone down his style a little? I understand that some patients need the extra encouragement to make follow-up appointments, but it is possible to scare the pants off the rest of us.

No comments: