25 Minutes in a Medical Office

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Yesterday, I went for a follow up visit with my optometrist, after something peculiar was discovered during an earlier appointment. Perhaps pure spun gold was found at the edge of my iris. Maybe I had a third pupil. Really I had no idea because I had asked exactly zero questions.

Remarkably, I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned about my ocular oddity, which was completely out of character considering the fact that over the past year, I’ve been painstakingly working my way alphabetically through the medical community (cardiologist, dermatologist…) you know, just to “rule things out.”

But, for some inexplicable reason, what can go wrong with my eyes is a question I had not yet asked Dr. Google.

I arrived early for my 3:30pm appointment. This is what happened next.

3:25pm: Enter waiting room, sit down and grab home decorating magazine. Flip through pages of pristine kitchens with monstrous bowls of glossy lemons sitting on gleaming countertops while speculating why wealthy homeowners require so much citrus. Glance at the teenage boy sitting to my right. Imagine how bizarre it would be if I could read his mind. Turn my attention to the radio as Taylor Swift encourages me to “shake it off.”

3:27pm: Say, “No, actually I’m Andrea,” after the receptionist looks at me and declares, “you must be Mary.” Watch the receptionist rifle through file folders before abruptly leaving her desk.

3:28pm: After finding out that today is Monday and my appointment is on Tuesday, I pull out my iPod and pretend to look at my “schedule” while apologizing profusely to the flustered woman behind the counter.

3:29pm: Say thank you repeatedly when my optometrist agrees to see me today instead of tomorrow. Breathe a sigh of relief since I wearing my last clean pair of underwear and laundry tonight is not in my plans.

3:31pm: Follow a cheerful eye technician into a dark room. Sit down and rest my chin on a padded cushion - wet with the scent of rubbing alcohol. Press my face firmly into a machine designed to encourage captured spies to turn in their co-conspirators. Feel my body jolt uncontrollably as tiny puffs of air are repeatedly forced into my eyeballs.

3:32pm: Willingly trail the same technician into another dark room where a giant camera sits, waiting to snap photographs of the inner workings of my weepy eyes.

3:33pm: Sit down in a second waiting room with a nice supply of children’s books and toys.

3:35pm: Smile at my optometrist who has just emerged from her office with a tissue in one hand and a small bottle of liquid in the other. Answer yes when she asks if I have someone to drive me home. Lean my head back and allow a woman I barely know to drizzle an unknown substance into the corners of my eyes. Listen to her tell me to keep my eyes shut for a few minutes while also adding that the drops might cause a slight burning sensation.

3:36pm: Hear my optometrist walk away.

3:37pm: Open my eyes. Feel an immense burning sensation. Do a quick scan of my immediate surroundings. Notice a giant stencil of a pair of glasses on the wall down the hallway. Wonder what time it is. Bend down to grab my purse.

3:38pm: Try to focus on the contents of my handbag while searching for my phone. Blink furiously in a futile attempt to clear the haze from my eyes. Realize that I am unable to see my fingernails. 

3:39pm: Look here. Look there. Look at the wall. See pictures of large eyes on giant posters. See black lines where words once appeared. Key in on the LARGE PRINT WORDSEARCH book that is sitting in a basket on the floor. Pick it up to get a closer look. See nothing but colors.

3:40pm: Wonder why my mother neglected to mention this symptom when she had the same procedure two weeks ago. Then, freak the fuck out.

3:41pm: Breathe in. Breathe in again. Wonder where everybody went. Hear nothing.

3:42pm: Strain to look at a colorful wave of spectacles hanging on the wall in the distance. Think about everyone who works in this office. Realize THEY ALL WEAR GLASSES. Reflect on the fact that after their examinations, both my mother and daughter ended up WITH GLASSES. Deduce that that everyone who has ever set foot in this space is now WEARING GLASSES. Convince myself that these drops are how my optometrist talks people into BUYING GLASSES. 

3:43pm: Picture myself in glasses. Imagine deciding on a nice turquoise frame with a bridge wide enough to accommodate my enormous Dutch nose. Wonder what contact lenses might feel like.

3:44pm: Hear footsteps. Reach out into the foggy abyss…

3:45pm: Shuffle behind my optometrist into the examining room. Ask if I will ever be able to see well enough to pluck stray hairs from my chin again. Feel much better when I hear that in order for my doc to properly inspect my eye, she had to use a medication that relaxed my focusing muscles, effectively give me the eyesight of a drunken ninety-year-old man.

3:48pm: Leave the office with a warning (to watch for any bright lights and/or sudden darkness) and a recommendation to see an eye surgeon just to make sure my retina isn’t trying to quietly defect from my body. 

3:49pm: Pay the bill with utter and complete difficulty. Because, blurry everything.

3:50pm: Climb into the passenger side of a stranger's car. Exit said car. Find my mother and child by scent. Ride shotgun to the grocery store to purchase many new items without being able to read any ingredients. 

Once I arrived home, I strained – with no luck - to see my reflection in the mirror. Instead, I took this photograph of my eye so I would be able to inspect it once my vision returned. Keep in mind; this photo was taken in a brightly sun-lit room and typically, bright lights will reduce the size of your pupil. But as you can see, mine looks like a dinner plate. A big black dinner plate that does not budge. I mean seriously, You could serve a tuna melt on that thing.

 Full disclosure: I Picmonkey’d the hell out of this image.

That was yesterday.

Today my pupils are properly expanding and contracting and I can see clearly again, although my head is aching which may or may not be normal.

Wait, let me just go and ask Dr. Google…

No, really.

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