Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{June 12, 2008}   This above all: to thine own eyes be true

So, I think I’m going to go with the expensive place for my laser eye surgery. I really did like the doc there and a few things about the cheaper place kind of freak me out. First, on their website they explain that the reason they are so cheap is because they do a “high volume” of surgeries. They spin it as “high volume = more experience = better surgery,” but “high volume” suggests “assembly line” to me. The second strike against the cheap place was an email exchange I had with them. I emailed to ask for their success rates and rates of complications, since this information is not provided on their website. The email I received back was atrocious. They provided limited success data and completely ignored my request for complication rates. Then they told me to phone if I had more questions, with the tone of it making me feel as if they were really put out by my having emailed. I’m sorry, but you are in customer service and if the customer prefers email, you should provide courteous, accurate answers by email and make them feel welcome to email back if they have more questions. And, for the love of all that is good in the world, your email should be professional. In their 9 sentence reply, they committed the following grammatical transgressions:

  • hyphenating “with-out”
  • hyphenating “thank-you”
  • spelling the word “merit” as “merrit”
  • not capitalizing the first word in a sentence (twice)

This email does not give me confidence in their clinic. I realize that it is not the surgeon who is writing such an atrocious email, but in my opinion, it reflects the unprofessional nature of the place1. In a last effort, I emailed back to ask, yet again, what their complication rates are. Their reply: “We have done over 46,000 procedures and we have never had a serious complication. The pre-operative screening eliminates those patients that might be a complication. Our turn down rate is about 4%. Phone if you have any other questions to [number redacted].” First of all – I didn’t ask if they had any “serious” complications. Their definition of “serious” may not be the same as mine. Twice avoiding my request for complication rates makes me feel like they are hiding something. Secondly, I don’t think they really meant that the patient might themselves BE a complication2. And third, wtf is up with their not wanting email? “Phone…” is a command. And it’s not inviting at all. I consulted with my mom and she agrees that I shouldn’t let anyone with such poor grammar anywhere near my eyes. So expensive surgery it is!

And since I’m going with expensive surgery, I’m following my friend Dan’s3 advice:

Definitely don’t go cheap on your peepers. Maybe you should start a “fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers”. After all, you have been entertaining many of us in the internets for a while now. Plus, if you can’t see how are you supposed to blog? So really, it’s not about your eyes so much as it is about our entertainment. (Dan’s comment on my recent bog post)

So now I’m putting a “donate” button on the sidebar of my blog – all proceeds to go to the “Fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers.” A button that looks like this:

Also, I’m going to follow Dave‘s suggestion and live blog the surgery. No, really.

1sort of like that whole “if the bathroom in a restaurant is dirty, you can bet their kitchen is too” kind of thing.
2Although that is kind of funny.
3You may remember Dan as my co-author on the Snow, Snow & Gillis (2007) paper about the Count and mathematics.

Scott says:

I think “phone if you have questions” is another way of saying “you can’t prove we said that”.

Beth says:

@Scott – Ya, I was kinda wondering that…like they don’t want to put things in writing.

Raul says:

I can liveblog the surgery if you need me to 🙂

AOM says:

Not sure if you’re too far along for this but you might want to ask your GP or opthalmologist for a recommendation. Maybe even a referral so that it can be covered. I don’t know…
Personally, I have a problem with doctors selling stuff or who are “in business”. To me, they are no longer trustworthy on opinions about your health.
My 2 cents.

Beth says:

I got the recommendation for the more expensive place from my optometrist. Can it really be covered if a MD recommends it? Would an MD ever recommend it?

Jorge says:

Who needs eyes to blog?
Have you looked at all of the shit in the Blog-o-verse?

Some people make MORE spelling mistakes with their eyes OPEN fer Chrissakes…

If you can’t see, it doesn’t mean you can’t blog. Just get someone to transcribe, or audio-log everything.


Stacia says:

I have a feeling that after sending them two e-mails, you would be considered a potential complication patient! Go with the other place.

Kalev says:

Do not go with the phone command people! That’s just garbage!

I cannot believe you put up a donation button. O_O

I think teh Intarwebs are scrambling your brains. 😛

Beth says:

@Stacia – I think you are right. I AM a complication patient!

@Kalev – Don’t blame me! It was Dan’s idea. My audience asks, so my audience shall receive. Within reason.

Dave says:

Excerpts from the surgery blog:

8:00AM Up, and waiting for surgery. WTF is with having to fast before eye surgery?!? BETH HUNGRY!

10:00AM Still waiting. You know, 8am, 10am, what’s the difference. Two effing hours, that’s the difference!


Kalev says:

@Dave: oh my gosh! You’re like channelling BETH! That’s freaky!

But you forgot to mention what fabulous outfit and sexy boots she wore to the surgery. And hockey.

Hey Beth, lasers are like SPIDERS!

AOM says:

I’m sorry this is off-topic but it’s related to not being able to see so…
I can’t seem to size my browser window in such a way as to be able to see your whole posts. That right hand panel covers the right side of the text and I want to see it all! Waaah!
Is it just me? (IE6)

Kalev says:

@AOM: It’s you…. get Firefox from It’s Firefox 3 download day, so it’s a good time to switch, too!

Kalev says:

@AOM addition: or at least get IE7. Not that I’m a huge fan of the Evil Empire but IE7 is definitely better than IE6.

AOM says:

Rats. This is at that place where they pay me to do stuff other than read blogs and so I’m not at liberty to make such changes.
Good to know, though. Thanks!

Beth says:

@AOM – I have IE6 at my place of employ and I can see my blog fine if I re-size the browser (the text just wraps into the more narrow space if I make the browser more narrow, and nothing ends up covered by the sidebar). So I’m not sure why that’s happening to you. =( I want my loyal readers like you to be able to read my bloggy goodness! Do you ever read blogs through RSS feeds?

Kalev says:

@AOM: Having already gone through this with Beth, I can confidently say that you can download and install Firefox without having Administrator privileges on your machine. Yes, it is that good.

AOM says:


thanks for the info. We have a very regulated environment and periodic scans keep me from violating policy – to some extent. 🙂

I have Firefox at home on my mac. I’ll check out the difference there.

Kalev says:

@AOM: oh my gosh… you need a new job, pronto! That’s draconian!

You can get a version of Firefox that runs off a USB memory key, I believe. Just something to consider!

[…] Which also means that there is still time for any rich philanthropists or other people who have money burning a hole in their pocket to donate to the “Fund raiser for Dr. Beth’s Peepers“: […]

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