Monday, May 2, 2011

Please Shut Up?

This week I had my eyes examined, and I signed in at the front desk and stood listening to the staff while I filled out my paperwork.

It was idle chitchat until one of the optometrists joined the women behind the desk and continued a conversation with her patient who checked out next to me.

“…oh, I heard everything you said,” the doctor reassured her patient while she flipped through some papers. “I can type and talk at the same time,” she explained. “You would be surprised how many things I can do at once.”

“You’re a good multi-tasker,” the patient responded.

“Yes, and I’m so glad that my mother let me watch TV while I did my homework. I wish that every kid was allowed to watch TV or listen to music while they study.” This comment caused me to look up and listen to this doctor’s reasoning. She continued, “Then they get used to constant stimulation and can learn to do many things at once. All kids should study while watching TV.”

The doctor’s sentences were said in a running stream with no pauses for breaths. She obviously could intake oxygen while constantly talking, writing a prescription, and reading the computer screen. She was really impressed with herself.

Being a staunch believer in the notion that people nowadays are over-stimulated and need to learn how to be quiet - to be alone with their thoughts – this woman made me want to laugh. When she finally walked back to her office, the room’s energy sighed in relief.

So imagine my disappointment when the door to my exam room opened later and that same doctor entered in a rush of run-on sentences.

While she entered numbers from my earlier exams into the computer: “Your eyes look great. It’s probably because you’re so thin. That means you’re healthy. There are way too many fat people in this country. And the fat ones are the ones with bad eyesight.”

While she had me look through the lenses and tell her “1” or “2”: “I have a patient who has great eyesight and he’s 70 years old. He eats spinach every day. That’s the trick. And it’s the married ones who eat better. If the woman eats well, her husband gets the benefit, too. You’ve got to eat spinach and leafy vegetables. I have another patient who…”

While she studied my retina on the computer screen: …Well, I can’t remember what she rambled about at that point, because I had tuned her out long ago. I was there for specific reasons – to ask about the eye pressure they had noticed last time, and to see if my macula looked okay, since macular degeneration runs in my family.

But she had not yet stopped talking and I had not been able to ask one question. Was she even looking at my results? How could she focus on anything? She sure liked to brag about her multi-tasking, but I knew that next time I would make sure I got a more focused doctor.

Funny how the doctor’s mile-a-minute exam was the perfect example of why her earlier logic was insane. It makes things so simple when people prove my points for me.

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