The 40 Year Old Woman Who Cried Tears of Joy

I’d like to venture into the human component of what I do. A little story that reminds me of the true essence of what I do for a living. At the end of the day, it’s not about the money. It’s all about affecting people’s lives and how much I’m affected by affecting those lives.

We spend a lot of time trying to provide useful research to our website visitors especially in the fields of LASIK/LASEK and Pterygium. I think there are times, though, when a good old fashioned story is called for.

I’m always wrapped up in the technical details of surgery. Because of that, I’ll sometimes lose track of the profound change that we’ve made to a patient’s quality of life.

A number of months ago, I performed routine Laser Eye surgery on a middle-aged woman. She had terrible vision from nearsightedness and astigmatism that started when she was in elementary school- around the age of 7-9. Basically, this woman had been blind without her glasses for over 30 years.

Typically, after a surgical procedure, the patient will sit up. At that point, the team and I point to a clock on the wall and ask the patient to tell us the time (hour AND minute). It’s reassuring to the patient to be able to read the minute hand on the clock. In this case, when this wonderful woman in her 40s looked at the clock, her voice trembled. It just about cracked. She was mesmerized and so filled with emotion that I thought for a split-second that she may have actually stopped breathing. (She hadn’t.) She was not only awestruck but overwhelmed by the powerful and transformational experience of transitioning from blind to seeing. She started to cry tears of joy as she could finally see. It was a very powerful moment as her reaction and emotional tears of joy hit me and the members of the surgical team right square in the heartstrings. Each of us had a lump in our throats. We became quiet for a few seconds just hoping that we could hold back our own tears. You know how they say “give and you shall receive?” It was during this moment that we were reminded that by giving this woman the gift of sight, we were given an even greater gift – the gift of meaning, humanity, and joy.

I agree with Winston Churchill who once said “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

The power of the human spirit combined with the transformational power of what we do for a living.
We were renewed that day.

Thanks for reading,
Franz Michel, M.D.