Well, Internet.  I have another confession to make.

I almost passed out at the optometrist's office today.

I've had it happen before, but, I had a scratched cornea then, and well, that was just a whole mess in and of itself.  But this, this was nothing.  This was for no good reason.

I filled out my medical information, and checked the box where I requested no retinal scan (an extra charge) and no eye dilation.  I knew I just wanted to see if I needed glasses or something because my eyes were fatiguing after reading for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and...so I didn't think I needed any fancy tests.

I walk back with a woman who gives me several visual tests on three separate machines, lined up right in a row.  First, a test with a dot in the middle and wavy lines on the side, then a focusing and unfocusing barn that I'm supposed to look at, and then she says, "And right over here, this will deliver a puff of air to each eye."

"No," I say.  She looks up from  her paperwork, trying to determine if I'm joking.  "No thank you," I say.  "They'll do one in the back then," she says, tightening her mouth and marking on my medical sheet.  We'll see about that, I think.

So, I'm led back to the darkened office where a nice enough doctor sits me down.  She asks me a few questions, and then asks if I want contacts or glasses.  Neither, I say, I'm not really here for those - I just want to make sure my eyes are okay, to see if I need glasses or something.  She gives me a funny look but proceeds with the eye exam.  She has me focus long-distance with each eye, and then places the viewer with the different lenses against my face.  Which one is better, 1 or 2?  3 or 4? and on and on she goes.  I start to panic a little because some of the lines I'm not able to see.  They become very blurry to me and I tell her my eyes are hurting.  I have to take a break and squeeze my watering eyes shut.  I start to panic a little.  Why are my eyes so blurry?  How has my vision become impaired so quickly?  (This is the moment where I have stopped thinking rationally.  Because if I were thinking rationally, I would reason that I have 20/20 vision, and the lenses she is having me peer through are corrected, which makes my own vision appear blurry.  This is supposed to be happening.)  What is wrong with me?  Oh my gosh, she's trying out so many different measurements.  Maybe I have cataracts or something.  Oh shit, are they going to have to do surgery?  Maybe I'll have to have surgery.  This month.  Maybe this week.  I should arrange this before I take preliminary exams.  What if my eyes are totally screwed?! 

I start to fidget and notice how warm it is in the room.  I look over at Joel, who is sitting patiently nearby for emotional support.  He looks so calm over there.  How can he be so calm over there when I am sitting here, I'm going to have to go into surgery this week and HOW IS HE SO CALM?  Why is my doctor not saying anything?  Is she going to wait to break the bad news later? 

My doctor pulls the viewer away from me and pulls out two instruments, each which shine a light into my eye.  She edges closer to me, close enough that I can smell her perfume.  It smells like a mix between something Elizabeth Taylor and a heartbroken teenager would wear.  It makes me a little sick.  And, heaven help me, the room IS SO HOT!  I'm going to pass out.  She pulls away and sits back down, making a few notes on her chart.

Okay, here it is.  I'm feeling a little woozy but maybe I'm going to make it.  She has to tell me the bad news.  "Well, you've got good vision - 20/20 in both eyes, you are maybe a little near-sighted in your right eye, but it's not enough to make any kind of difference.  As for the eye fatigue and headaches, I'm just going to prescribe a light prescription for reading glasses for you.  And you should get a glaucoma test soon."  That's it?, I think.  I'm not going to die?  A surge of endorphins races through me and I don't feel so well. 

"Can I lay down?" I ask.  She looks at me strangely again, and I apologize sheepishly.  I pull myself out of the chair and kneel down against the wall.  "It's hot in here, isn't it?" she says, and I mutter, "Yeah, a little."

She looks down at me with her hand on the door handle, pathetic me, curled up like a baby on the dusty tile, and suddenly I feel very small and not very intelligent.  She inquires again, "You're a doctoral student?"  I look up at her.  "Yes."  She looks back down at me, and then opens the door.  "Huh," she says. 

Leave a Reply.