A Mile of Trouble – Conclusion
When living in San Diego, I was lucky enough to work with and learn immense amounts from Dr. Bob Sanet. One event that stands out is after examining a highly frustrated young man in his teenage years, Dr. Sanet recommended Vision Therapy to remediate some learning related visual concerns. Dr. Sanet was (and I’m sure still is) fantastic at relating to teenage boys through a combination of sharing detailed personal experiences, validating frustrations, and offering hope through VT. Only mom was present at the conference, which went very well, and concluded with the young man enrolling in our program. Dad, who we had never met – incidentally, he was an interrogator for the CIA – was not sold on the benefits of Vision Therapy and apparently had tried to reverse mom’s idea to enroll their son a few times. During the initial VT visit, dad made his one and only appearance in the office. He sat in the corner, reading a magazine, purposefully oblivious to the information we were trying to explain. He said nothing the entire hour, but his body language spoke volumes – we were wasting his time.
Unfortunately, this patient never returned to our office as dad’s influence ultimately won out. They withdrew from our program the next day, never to be heard from again. However unfortunate, the experience taught me one helluva lesson – never under estimate the influence of a skeptical parent.
Mom and child were sold, dad was not. Dad wins, kid loses.
Circling back now to my current patient, it was clear that not only was trying to convince dad an exercise in futility, but it was not my fight. Mom is my ally, and as long as she continues to win out at home, my focus needs to stay on this patient. For the next two sessions, we purposefully engaged in conversations explaining the benefits of VT (mom was in the room for all of it) and went to great lengths to help patient and his mom appreciate his progress. It became a lot of “when you started you couldn’t…, and now look how awesome you are”. I even made the point to explain that although dad may have his own ideas, I’m happy that “we” (mom, patient, and myself) can all be excited about how much progress has been made.
About three weeks ago, our doctor extended this patient by 24 visits, bringing his total to 72. Only mom attended the progress check, and so far, they continue to attend the weekly visits. As much as I worry that the other shoe may drop soon, and they will withdraw based on dad’s influence, I’m encouraged that we have made it this far. Front and center in every visit though, remains the magnified need to demonstrate value in the eyes of mom and patient, and work to keep motivations high and free from to dad’s influence.
It’s a tough spot to be in for everyone involved.