Greetings, dear readers! And Happy Independence Day for those of you of the American persuasion or, according to my cats, Happy Making-Shockingly-Loud-Explosions-for-No-Damn-Reason-and-This-Is-Why-We-Eat-You-When-You-Die Day.
A couple of days ago, I went for my sort-of-annual eye exam. It's sort-of-annual because I have a phobia about doctors. Its symptoms are: forgetting who my doctor is, forgetting his or her phone number, forgetting when my last exam was, losing the little cards telling me I need an exam, paralysis of the fingers when trying to dial doctor's office, loss of voice if someone answers at doctor's office, rapid heartbeat and terror. Also, sometimes thinking about making an appointment makes me have to pee.
Eye exams, though, are the least invasive medical appointment, so I generally get there close to annually. Okay, I lie. I only get there close to annually because I am blind without my contact lenses, and the prescription expires after a year, so I can't order more until I go to a damn appointment. Also, I keep rolling over and mutilating my glasses.
I actually like my eye doctor. In fact, right now, I like most of my doctors, which is not at all normal for me. But the fact that I like him doesn't mean I like going to the exam. Let me explain.
First, I have to decide whether or not I'm going to let them dilate my eyes. If I say yes, then I have to have someone else drive me home, and if I say no, then I have to face the Look of Disappointment from the doctor's assistant. She has a very intimidating Look, so if I don't have someone to drive me home from the appointment, I have to practice what I'm going to say if I have to refuse the dilation. Rehearsing for doctor's appointments is not, apparently, something that other people do. Normal people, I mean.
Then there are the machines. When I was little, I remember a bright light and lots of "Number one or number two" questions, but I don't remember any of the machines except that annoying puff of air one. That one I've sort of gotten used to, but really I always worry that the air is contaminated or the machine will gain sentience and be offended at my shirt and spit right into my eye. Which would be bad.
The new machines, though, they are just weird. What's with the little house at the end of the road? I have no idea why I'm looking at that house or why they keep making it blurry. And I keep wondering if the house is the same house each time, or whether they have different houses for different people. Also, does it have to be a house? Couldn't it be, like, a castle with a moat or something? That house looks very lonely sitting there on the artificially bright horizon without even a car or a dog near it, let alone any other houses. Also, it looks like the little road goes right up to its front door and stops. WTF? Does that mean that the little cars drive right into the living room? Can they turn around anywhere?
This time I asked my eye doctor where the little cars turn around or whether they hit the house, and he asked me if I actually saw little cars during the exam, and I told him that no, I didn't, but that wasn't the point. There could be little cars, and they're going to ram straight into that brightly colored farmhouse.
He gave me that half-laugh that you use when you're not sure if someone is serious or not, but are afraid to ask. Then he asked me if I'd listed all of the medications I'm currently taking.
The worst part of the eye exam is the dilation part. First, the assistant comes in and puts drops in your eyes, and when you squeeze them shut because the drops feel icky, she tells you "don't squeeze," then puts more drops in, and then puts more drops in. During the eye-drop torture, I try to make conversation to make myself more comfortable and less likely to bolt out of the room. This time, I asked, "What's in these drops anyway? And how do these chemicals make my eyes dilate?"
You see what I was doing here, right? I was expressing an interest in someone's work. This is a good thing. You're supposed to ask people about themselves and their interests rather than just babbling about yourself and how you're on Season 4 of Dr. Who, but you don't know whether to start Torchwood now or wait until you catch up on all of the Dr. Who episodes because you might lose momentum. Many, many people have told me to ask about other people's lives instead, so I try, now and again, to follow their advice.
Because I'm trying to improve my pathetic social skills, if you must know.
Anyway, she steps back in shock (letting the drops run down my face) and says, "Honey, I can't even pronounce the name of this stuff. I have no idea how it works."
And then I was hit with a sudden wave of nausea because who wants to be treated by someone who doesn't know what they're putting in your body or why?! But the drops were in, so it was too late, and I had to stumble out to the waiting area and hang around waiting for my eyes to dilate and hope that I hadn't just been poisoned or permanently blinded or something.
It was not a pleasant wait. I tried asking the person next to me if he knew what was in the drops, but apparently the on-coming dilation and my terrified tremors made me a frightening spectacle because he just edged away from me and murmured something about sunglasses.
Finally, my vision began to blur and brighten, so that it seemed like I was under water, and I was called back in for the worst part of the exam:
The Eye of Sauron.
I didn't used to think of it like that, but then they made The Lord of the Rings into films, and Eye became this scary vertical slit that is exactly like the light they shine into your eyes when they have been dilated. My doctor moves it back and forth and makes me look left and right and up and down, and I start to worry that left and right have switched sides and I'll get it wrong and fail the exam, and then the Eye will sense my weakness and take control. I tried to make a joke about the Eye of Sauron, but my doctor pretended not to know what I was talking about, and I was afraid to ask about the dilation chemicals in case he admitted to not knowing how they worked either at which point I would have shrieked and run straight into the wall and knocked myself unconscious. Which would also have been bad.
Finally, he was done tormenting me, so that I could stumble out into the blurry light with spots in front of my eyes.
At which point, of course, they gave me the bill.