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Mother's Keeper: The Eye Doctor... /
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My Mother's Keeper: The Eye Doctor
By Beverly Bernstein Joie, MS, CMC
For the past several years, my
step-sister had been taking my mom to see the
ophthalmologist. They had their routine; Cindy would
drop her off for the appointment and then pick her up
after it. Then, last spring, Mom called to ask if I
could step in because Cindy was unavailable to help her.
I was actually pleased that I would have the opportunity
to see what the doctor had to say.
As a private geriatric care manager, I spend my
professional life guiding families through the often
twisted, treacherous journey that aging parents and
their frantic children share. Often families are
separated by distance and itís my job to be their eyes
and ears Ė an advocate for their parents and a source of
support for their caregiving children. Here I was
beginning the journey myself, though I admit that I
didnít know it at the time.
I sat through the eye exam with Mom and it seemed fairly
routine. Then the doctor said to her, ďYou know, Mrs.
Fastman, as I have been saying for the last three years,
you should not be driving.Ē I almost fell through the
floor, overwhelmed by a wild array of feelings. I recall
panic, fear, anger, and embarrassment, to name a few.
Here I was, a care manager whose own mom had slipped
through the cracks. As I recall, the ensuing
conversation went something like this:
Beverly: So doctor, what is the reason that my mom
should not be driving?
Doctor: Itís the cataracts! Once they are removed, she
should be okay.
Beverly: And how long did you say this has been going
Doctor: Itís been the last three years.
Beverly: Did you report this to the Department of Motor
Beverly (to Mom): Tell me why you never mentioned the
doctorís position before.
Mom: Bevy, he never told me until today that I had
cataracts! You know, I canít understand why he keeps
playing with the eye chart to make it hard for me to
see! I see just fine. (Yes, it really happened that