I, like most people hate going to the doctor. The first thing I hate about it is the waiting room. Mostly because you have to sit in a room with a bunch of sick people, and read old magazines whose pages are all limp from hundreds of hands, leafing through them.
Last week I went for my bi-yearly eye exam. Because of my glaucoma and two eye operations, my exam is much more detailed than most. In fact it is more like a procedure performed at Abu Ghraib prison, except without me being naked and the nurse isn't standing next to me pointing at me like I’m some kind of trophy.
It starts off easy, reading from the eye chart, but that’s just to lull me into a false sense of security. Immediately after the eye chart, drops are put into my eyes to ‘numb’ them. Why numb them? Because they are getting ready to poke things into them, that‘s why. First up is the pressure test, where a purple light slowly moves in towards my eye until it comes into contact with it, then it's pushed even further into the eye. Usually at this point the technician scolds me for blinking, and she informs me that she will have to keep poking me in the eye until I don’t blink.
After the ‘poke you in the eyes’ test come more drops. These drops are to ‘dilate’ your eyes, so that they can see into them. After they give me the drops, they tell me to wait twenty minutes until they take effect. When looking at a five watt light bulb is like staring into the noon day sun, the drops have taken effect. Now with my pupils open wide, they take photos using a flash strobe. By the time they are done flashing a thousand watts of light into my eyes over and over (they never seem to get a good picture on the first try), it seems like I am looking through a bucket of blood. Everything I look at is stained red.
Finally the doctor comes in. I may be at the ‘doctors’ office for two hours or more, but I only see the doctor for about five minutes, which is when he shines airplane landing lights into my eyes and tries to peel back my eyelids as far as possible, all the while saying “looks good“.
After the doctor is done with me, I am ushered into a small room with inadequate air conditioning and a large machine in it. It is this machine that I dread the most. It is called the ‘Field of Vision’ test and it is a pain in the ass. With me sitting in an very uncomfortable chair, and my eyelids taped open, my head is pushed up against the machine, with my chin and forehead in little cup like rests. When the test starts, you have a ‘clicker’ in your hand that you click every time you see a little light flash somewhere in the machine. I know it sounds simple, but after a few minutes I start zoning out because I can't blink and I begin missing flashes of light. This causes the test to go on and on until I catch enough light flashes to satisfy the machine.
After about two hours, I am released from eyeball hell and given the good news that my blindness and glaucoma have been stabilized. Then I am reminded of the bad news, I have to make an appointment for six months from now to do it all again.