Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When you cry at the eye doctor’s office, they can’t get a good reading of your eyeball

I envy people that can go to the doctor’s office without having a nervous fit.
Some people can just walk right in, pleasantly chat with the nurses, see the doctor, get an exam and leave. I find that crazy.

You see, I’m usually referred to as the squirrelly, crying “difficult” patient in the corner who makes nurses draw straws to see who gets to go on a coffee break when its my turn to get examined.
The one who has to be left alone for a few minutes “to calm down" before getting a meningitis shot.
The one who requests that dental hygienists use plastic instruments…have you seen plastic instruments before? It’s the kind they use on toddlers. Easier on the gums.
I was once referred to as “a ticking time bomb” by the un-friendly oral surgeon who performed my wisdom teeth extraction.

It’s not like there’s anything wrong with me, medically. I don’t arrive in the lobby with a ten-pound knot in my stomach because I have a fatal, life-threatening illness. I just hate going to the doctor.
I hate being prodded and poked and studied. It’s nauseating and makes me want to jump out the window.
Have you ever been under local anesthesia, say at the dentist’s office, or getting stitches after getting a “funny looking mole” removed and you don’t feel anything, but you know someone is messing with you? That’s my version of hell.

Luckily, I’ve found accommodating healthcare professionals to deal with my neuroses.
I’ve been given so much laughing gas that I've started to hallucinate during a crown procedure on my bottom tooth. (Laughing gas….so fun!)
One doctor even prescribed me a mild anti-anxiety pill to take before my appointments. (“That’s ridiculous,” said Joy, my twin sister.)
I wish I could leave these accommodating doctors a tip.

That said, my experience at the eye doctor today was not at all unusual.
“You’re going to need to stop blinking so much,” the nurse said. (Are they called nurses at the eye doctor?)
“I’m sorry, I’m just so nervous,” I said as I took my chin away from the machine that was conducting a glaucoma test.
“You need to put your face back on the machine."
"Now stop blinking.”
“I can’t.”
The back-and-forth ended with her prying my eyes open with her own fingers (eeeewwwwwww).

The reason I went to the eye doctor is that I haven’t been seeing things very well at night or from far away lately. I’ve been squinting for the past two months, and I can’t read street signs.
This became an issue when Joy and I drove 12 hours through the night from Charleston to New Orleans for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"I think that you are crazy to drive through the night especially if Jenny cannot see at night,” our mother wrote in a joint email. “That is a problem."

The fact that my eyesight was crapping out on me began to make me angry.
I was mad that I couldn’t read the illuminated signs in the Superdome during the Saints game. Or billboards on the highway. Or the menu at Chick-Fil-A.

So when the nurse (nurse?) asked me to read the row of letters on the first line, I began to tear up. Mostly out of frustration.
“I…can’t read that!” I cried.
I just felt so helpless, you know? So…malfunctioning. I mean, how is it possible that I can’t read the first row of letters? It’s the DEFAULT row of letters for Christ sake!

“Ok, try these letters,” the nurse said. “Wait...are you….crying?”
“Yes. I don’t know why. I just am…really NERVOUS!” was all I could wail. Then I became embarrassed that I was crying and started getting hysterical.
She handed me a tissue.
“You know, it’s not a big deal to get glasses,” she said. “I have glasses.”
I looked up at her.
“I mean, I’m not wearing them now, but I have them.”
I wailed into the tissue.
“You know what?” she said. “I’m going to leave you alone for a few minutes to get yourself together.”
And she left me alone in the dark room trying to find my happy place.

When she returned I had in fact managed to calm down and honestly answered the “better number 1 or number 2?” questions about that dumb row of letters.
My pupils were then dilated — also, nauseating — and the doctor came in to give me a bona fide prescription.
“Look,” he said. “Your job requires you to look at a computer screen all day. Your eyes just can’t adjust to things far away as well.”
He also told me my left eye is worse than my right eye, which I found insulting for some reason. And that for five minutes out of every hour I should step away from the computer.
“Oh don’t be so upset,” he told me. “It’s not like I used the B word….bi-focals.”

I left the office with sore eyeballs, yet refused the large geriatric plastic “sunglasses” that were offered to me.
I had to squint on the drive all the way back to work, where I made sure to tell everyone I had just been to the doctor so they wouldn’t think I was on drugs.

My, what big pupils you have!

Now this weekend I have to go pick out some frames. Where do you even do that?? Joy is coming with me, with strict orders to help me choose something that doesn’t make me look anything like Harry Potter. “That’s ridiculous,” she said.


  1. This made me giggle...but you aren't the only one with the squirms. I get a shot or have to have blood drawn and I still need to hold my mom's hand. It's awful...and I cry.

  2. So do you have them yet? And did you like your dr? I'm in the market for a new one.

    Don't sweat having to have glasses - at least they are way more acceptable when you're our age than when you're in 7th grade, like I was when I got my first pair. Ah, the formative years...

  3. Didn't you have glasses before? How did you get those frames? Just go to Pearle Vision or something, Jenny. Sigh, I leave town and you go to pieces...

    Just kidding, love! Miss you!


  4. They're not gonna do anything to you at the eye doctor. Nothing that will hurt.


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