Every now and then a doctor runs across a patient who makes an impression. Many years ago when I was a young and very green optometrist this lady did just that. She shows up in my office for her annual eye exam. I look at her record and check her eyes and I say, "Lois, you have emphasema and early glaucoma. I can get you seeing better with new glasses but you really need to quit smoking for your health and your eyes." Lois then said to me, "Dr. Collins, I know I need to quit smoking but I have lost my husband and most of my friends have died and I am not giving up cigarettes no matter what you or anyone else says." I understood. Life is hard. Things or $hit happens as they say. I told her that was OK and let's see you back in a year and see how you are doing then. Sometimes a doctor understands that a person needs time to get to where they are going.
So the following year, Lois shows up for her annual eye exam. I walk into the room and she has a big ole grin on her face and says to me, "You will never guess what I have done?" I said "What?" She says, "I quit smoking!" I could not believe it. Here was a patient in her 70's that quit smoking to live longer when a lot had been lost.
Now this was more than twenty years ago. Since Lois had glaucoma, we saw each other frequently over the years. I was there for her and her eyecare and she was there for me when my wife needed a prayer when she had her colon removed because of ulcerative colitis. She was there when my son was going through drug and alchohol recovery and left college for rehab. She always came into my office and gave as much to me as I ever gave to her. And I truly believe that her thoughts and prayers made a difference in my life and I am sure that my thoughts and prayers made a difference in her life.
She was in to see me about nine months ago. She was doing fine for her age. She was 92 now. We had been together a long, long time. She said, "I don't know if I can come see you anymore because I can't get out of the house." I said, "Lois, if you need me then I will make a house call anyday for you."
About a month ago, I was in my office writing cards to my new patients thanking them for choosing my office for their eyecare. I thought about Lois and sent her a note checking in and telling her if she needed anything to call.
The day before yesterday, Lois' daughter called the office leaving a message for me to call. I told my staff, I hope Lois needs a housecall. Unfortunately, she did not. She had passed away. Her daughter was calling me to tell me about her death and how much she appreciated my note to her about a month ago. I am saddened by her death but her daughter tells me she was ready and accepted death. I will miss Lois and always remember her...she was one hell uv a lady...and made one hell uv an impression on this doc!