Every month since my stroke comes a day of absolute terror: the day I receive an injection in my eyeball to treat my retinal hemorrhage.
Yet, every month, the Sanford Eye Center is so family-like and so kind that I come away with only good memories.
Some people only see and talk about the bad things in life but as I suffer from chronic, indeed, terminal optimism, without which I couldn't survive this crazy life, I only see the good. So each month, I write an email to Sanford Patient Relations to tell them how wonderful their Eye Center is because "credit where credit is due."
Here's this month's email. I hope you find it as amusing to read as I found it amusing to write.
Dear Sanford Patient Relations,
What is the greatest painkiller on the planet? No, it's not morphine. It's the Power of Kindness. Science has proven that kindness floods the body with good endorphins and the kindness of the staff at the Sanford Eye Center yesterday did even more to ease my pain and fear than their wonderful lidocaine injection.
It began as soon as I stepped in the door. Niki was covering the Front Desk as well as doing eye tests and I had a silent inner giggle that she already knew I needed to use the restroom! Could she actually see that my back teeth were floating!?! Well, it is an hour drive from my hilltop cottage to Bemidji.
And that's a story in itself. There are two bathrooms in the West side of the Eye Center. One was being cleaned and the other, well, just as I approached it a man exited, leaving the door ajar and sprinted away as if he were on a mission. I peaked in the door and saw in shock he'd left an old lady sitting on the toilet!!!
Oh dear, oh dear. What to do!?! If I pulled the door shut for privacy, she'd be locked in and he'd be locked out. If I walked away, her privacy was in jeopardy. So I stood sentinel! The Queen's Guard had nothing on me!
Soon, the gentleman rushed back with the old lady's misplaced hearing aid. That touched a nerve as I'm hard-of-hearing myself and worked in IT for Miracle-Ear's Corporate Office for eight years. "I guarded the door!" I announced cheerfully when he returned and he thanked me up-and-down. The other bathroom, now spotless, was available so all was well! Crisis averted!
Niki did my initial intake and eye testing as well as giving me a new prescription for new glasses! Having worn glasses for thirty-two years, her process is the best I've ever experienced. She was patient and told me exactly when to blink before flashing the lenses, "Which is better, one or two?" before my eyes. It seems like a small thing but I've never been told when to blink before and it really streamlined the "...one or two, blink, three or four..." process. Otherwise I get so muddled.
I don't know the name of the lady with dark brown, long hair who scanned my retina but it was done lickety-split! She always remembers to give me a paper copy of the scan so I can gloat over the shrinking of the red splotch on my retina! One of life's small joys.
Of course, when I heard that an older doctor was temporarily replacing Dr. Reinsbach, I was nervous. My crazy brain immediately conjured an image of actor Ben Turpin wielding a needle toward my eye!
I couldn't have been more wrong! Dr. Andrew Jordan "had me at hello." Some doctors have the bedside manner of a rhinoceros; he has the bedside manner of an angel. He introduced himself, explained the procedure and then said the magic words: "I've had the injection myself." And just like that, my blood pressure dropped about 50 points. The man knows how to use kindness to flood your system with calming endorphins which Ol' Hopped-up-on-Cortisol here really needed.
It may seem oxymoronic that I asked for two injections yesterday when one has me petrified in terror, but the first one was a painkiller. Every single eye injection patient should know about this option!!!! I learned of it on Facebook, that bastion of all medical knowledge. (I jest! I jest!)
The painkilling lidocaine injection is brief and doesn't hurt nearly as much as the Avastin nor Eylea injections. After it takes effect, nothing hurts. All you feel is firm pressure on your eyeball. I didn't even freak out when Dr. Jordan clamped my eyelids open. Of course, I begged him not to do it, so he took the time to explain exactly why he did it and won me over with sterling logic. I couldn't feel the clamp anyways.
I wish I knew his assistant's name because she's wonderful. Sometimes I hold her hand but when her hands are full, she lets me paw her. Not sure exactly what I had a grip on yesterday but I think (hope!) it was her tummy. That's one long-suffering lady but she knows that human contact is so comforting.
And just like that...it was all over and I burst into tears. It's not that the physical pain is so bad, it's that the pain unlocks the tears. Usually, I can cry for everyone...except myself...after decades of staying silent as my "loving" family abused me. For some reason after the physical pain of the injection all the emotional pain over my step-daughter's suicide (11/20/2020), my dog's death (last week), the struggle to get a radiofrequency ablation for my husband (insurance refuses to pay! I did a fundraiser), his rare lung disease (yes, he's deemed terminal)...and all the other stressors of life....come flooding out at the Sanford Eye Clinic.
If your staff needs therapy, I did it. I traumatized and scarred them for life!
Usually, as soon as Ol' Waterworks here starts squirting tears everywhere, the doctor runs for his life! LOL Don't blame him. Dr. Jordan came back into the room, took my arm and showed me in the mirror exactly where my eye had bled a bit and told me not to worry about it. If I'd had the nerve, I would've given him a hug.
On my way out, Niki advised putting a cold pack on my sore eye and indeed it helped tremendously! The after-effects of the Eylea injection hurt a lot more than the Avastin injection and my eyelid's still swollen but I'm so glad I switched to Eylea. However, I do wish I hadn't used a bag of Chipotle Corn Blend with a pinhole as a coldpack...suddenly I realized I had chipotle flavored honey butter running all over my face! Ooops!
Decades ago, I read a story about an old lady who volunteered every day as a hand-holder at an Eye Clinic. Of course, big strong men would scoff and tell her they didn't need to hold her hand during their procedures but she'd sit beside them anyways. She chuckled, "They're the ones who end up squeezing my hand the hardest." Has Sanford ever considered having volunteer hand-holders at your Eye Center...and indeed other clinics as well??? Handholders and recommending the lidocaine injection to everyone would make a superb Eye Center even better!!!
In just one brief hour, the procedure was all over and I was back home to an ecstatic Bichon welcome from Adele and a "Who are you again?" shrug from my cats, Snuggles-n-Cuddles. Later, they all cuddled up to me in bed, Snuggles wanted a cuddle and Cuddles wanted a snuggle. She even turned on her back, all four legs in the air and tucked her head under my chin. They know a thing or two about kindness and endorphins too! All they have in life is themselves and so they give of themselves.
Well, thanks again for reading one of my long, Helene Hanff-esque emails, Sanford. I do hope you'll pass it along to the Eye Center.
Take care and God bless!
Mrs. Lenora Thompson
Has someone been extraordinarily kind to you?
Have you received wonderful service somewhere?
Then tell them! Tell their boss! Tell their central office! Post it publicly!
This world is so shy of kindness we need to shout it from the rooftops!
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