Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Optometrist Who Fixed My Pancreas

Abstract: An encounter with an Optometrist saved my life, limbs, and eyes.  Dr. Christina J. Dixon, in my opinion, has had the most profound medical influence over my life, bar none. She told it straight, she treated me like a person, and she cared about my health and well being above her own financial bottom line. I'm certain she's lost patients because of her approach. But, I'm also certain that they've walked away ashamed of themselves, angry with her, and ready to make a change like I did (click Make a change, to be serenaded by Michael Jackson for added inspiration while you read this!

Close Encounters:

Many of us are fed up with going to the Doctor's office. It usually starts with walking into the building. The Office staff is lethargic, unfriendly, unwelcoming, and not very pleased to see you.  Then you sit and wait in solitary confinement until the doctor finds time to swing by and find out why you are visiting them.

Usually, in my experience, the doctor comes in and stares at their computer (I'm almost certain they are playing a medical version of words with friends), the whole time you are in front of them, they cut you off mid-sentence, and really never seem to listen.  They ask you what is wrong, and appear uninterested in your responses.  Then they do it. They throw medications at you, whatever the flavor of the day is, welcome you to return to the front desk and make good on your co-pay, and kick you out the door.

I often leave the Dr's office feeling flustered, rushed and most of the time I realize that I'd actually forgotten to discuss the reason I went there in the first place. 

So, I expected the same the first time I visited Eagle Eye Vision Center of Stafford, Virginia.  I had that feeling approaching the building that I often get going to the doctor's office.  Anxiety. The staff was friendly, the building was comfortable, and I immediately felt at home, until I met her. dun dun DUN... Christina J. Dixon Optometrist!

She walked into the room, with a smile, and asked how I was doing.  Ahhh, things are going great! Friendly staff, and friendly/attentive Doctor.  I can breathe easy. Then she asked a simple, innocuous, question, "I see you are diabetic, how's that going?"

In my usual coy, I don't feel like talking about this, you are just going to use my Diabetes to get more money out of me way; I answered.  "Fine."

The Nice Doc Disappeared, and the Truth Hurt!  

Doc:  Oh. Fine?  What was your last Blood sugar? 

Me: Well, I'm not sure doc. I took it a few weeks ago, and it was just under 200.

Doc. So, your blood sugar is fine?  Are you sitting there and telling me your Diabetes is fine?  Do you know how many people sit in these chairs and tell me their blood sugar is fine?  Are you taking this seriously at all?  Do you realize that you can go blind, that you can have a stroke, heart conditions, do you realize what you are doing to yourself?

Doc: I've had patients come in here and act all coy, like they've got it all under control, until something goes wrong. I know you might not come back to see me, I've lost patients like you before. They didn't like the way I talked to them. You have to take this seriously, it's not a joke, it's not something to take lightly.  I've seen too many complications from Diabetes. It can be helped, you can do something about it.  Change your diet, exercise, lose some weight.  Whatever it takes.

It seemed like hours passed, I was being lectured, read the riot act, and told off.

I was awe struck.  Don't get me wrong, I was pissed.  Who is this Optometrist whom I've never met, to tel ME how to care for MY body?  She isn't a general practitioner, or an endocrinologist.  Who in the hell does she think she is?  I left the office not sure whether or not I would ever go back.

I went home, and thought about it.  I told my wife. You won't believe what the Optometrist said to me! Of course, my wife sided with the Doctor.  Now what.  I can't go home, and I can't find respite at the Optometrist's office? Then it hit me.  She was right, I needed to do something about this curable and reversible chronic disease. The power WAS in my hands.

A few days later the truth struck me in the head like a brick made out of Dr. Dixon's attitude.  She was NOT a general practitioner, she was NOT an endocrinologist.  Why had none of my doctors ever talked to me like this, told me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear. Why did they just shut me up with meds and kick my fat butt out of the building in time for me to stop at Burger King before heading to CVS to get my Diabetes meds?

In an upcoming article I will discuss the Dr. who diagnosed me with a sinus infection, instead of Diabetes, nearly 2 years before my official diagnosis. 

Dr. Dixon, in my opinion, has had the most profound medical influence over my life, bar none.  She told it straight, she treated me like a person, she actually cared about my health and well being above her own financial bottom line. 

It still took some time for me to get my act together.  But I've had Dr. Dixon's voice in my head, driving me to, in the Words of the late/Great Michael Jackson, Make that Change (Oh yeah, I posted the link to the song again. Go ahead, listen. You know you can't resist!)

In the days, and months since this appointment, I've taken my health into my own hands, I've stopped relying on excuses, medications, and laziness.  As a result I've been removed from my Type II Diabetes Medications, and my blood sugars have remained in the normal, Non-Diabetic Range.

Thank you to Dr. Christina J. Dixon, Eagle Eye Vision Center of Stafford for having the courage to tell this patient what he NEEDED to hear, instead of what he WANTED to hear.  I wish there were more medical professionals like you, and I hope that patients will grow thick enough skin to accept what they need to hear.

I hope, if you are reading this, and you are a medical professional that you will take this to heart.  Many of your patients want you to get us on the right track. It might be an ugly conversation, and uncomfortable for both of us.  But come on Docs... You stick your fingers in dark and dirty places on a daily basis.... what can be more uncomfortable than that?

Please stop treating symptoms with medication, and return to personal and personalized health CARE!  Learn from Dr. Christina J. Dixon.