Ocular Misadventures


Hot on the heels of my post of a few weeks ago about the explorations in the deepest, darkest parts of my colon, I’m going for another doctor related post.  It’s what we Boomers do – talk about our visits to the doctor.  ZZZzzzzzz…

Last week I went for my bi-annual eye exam.  I went to a new O.D. Everybody in the office was very nice and extremely friendly. Everybody told me how happy they were that I chose their practice. I was immediately suspicious.  This is Atlanta.  Nobody in a customer service position here acts like that.  Must proceed with caution.

I don’t like going to the eye doctor anyway.   I hate the inevitable “gives you farsighted vampire eyes unable to read or be in the sunlight” drops to dilate your eyes.  And I always seem to get the techs who were former Abu Ghraib interrogators.  They position the eye dropper 4 feet above your eyes and then squeeze.  You endure the agony watching the drops fall and fall and fall before they plop into each eye stinging the crap out of them.  I’m sweating now just thinking about it.

But last week, I was offered a choice.  I could have the normal “Guantanamo Bay Special” eye drops or, for $35 extra, a new procedure that takes a picture of the inside of your eyeball.  No drops, no sting and no vampire blindness.  They could have charged $135 and I still would have signed up.  Don’t tell them that.

After the pictures and some other odd tests (“Click the buttons when you see the shimmering lines appear.” WTF?), we moved on to what is second only to the eye drops as my most stressful and anxiety ridden part of the eye exam.  I like to call it the “Is it better here or (sound of lens clicking) here?” conundrum.

They put this huge mechanical contraption in front of your face that looks like the old big binocular machine that was at the U.S. Grand View Hotel on Rt 30 in Pennsylvania back in the 60’s.  You’d put a nickel in and you could see three states and seven counties.  Only I don’t see three states and seven counties from the OD’s contraption; just lines of random letters of different sizes.  Downer.

Then starts the incessant, relentless questioning.  Can you read the third line down?  No?  Then they spin the dials and flip things around.  Can you read line three now?  Is it better here or here? Over and over and over…

At this point, I have line three memorized so it wouldn’t matter if they put a hood over my head.  I could recite line three in my sleep. This whole process could use a little more creativity.  It’s really easy to cheat.

They continue to madly spin dials and flip lenses.  “Can you read line three better with #1 or [click] #2?”  Sometimes the answer is obvious. But most of the time it pretty much looks the same to me. But they want an answer.  They’re insisting on an answer.  Now. Dear God in heaven….I can’t tell a difference!  My hands start to get clammy, my respiration gets shallow and I feel my heart pounding in my teeth.

I try to stall for time.  I ask them to see #1 and #2 again.  They’re not happy with me.  They’re starting to speak in clipped phrases with tight lips and a slight Brooklyn accent.  They aren’t going to take “I can’t tell the difference” for an answer again.  I think might wind up in the cornerstone of some new building or at the bottom of a river if I don’t come up with an answer.  Fast.  I desperately try to figure out if #1 is truly better than #2.  I blurt out an answer. “NUMBER 2! IT’S NUMBER 2!

I need a Xanex after we are done with the binocular machine.

Satisfied that I’ve been beaten into ocular submission, the doctor puts my eyeball pictures up on the computer screen.  I perk up.  I’m an anatomy geek so it’s very cool to see the inside of my eyeball.  He says my optic nerve looks great.  He says my macula looked perfect. In both eyes.  He says that I have the eyeballs of a 20 year old.  I’m thinking, “Yeah I do!”

Then he says, “Except for the cataracts that are starting. See the cloudiness?”

Yeah, I do.  Shit.

So I need to be careful when I’m in the sun.  Aside from the sunscreen I have to slather myself with to prevent skin cancer, age spots and wrinkles, now I have to wear polarized sunglasses all the time to protect my eyes from the evil UV rays seeking to destroy my vision. This will “delay” the development of the cataracts so that I probably won’t need surgery for 10 years or so.

You can run but you can’t hide from a body that has been around for 60+ years.  Some wear and tear is creeping in.  It happens to all of us who are lucky enough to stick around for this long…

Aging gracefully my ass!