Needlework, Really?

This was me at the eye doctor’s where I just went for my annual checkup. It was hard enough driving home after with cloven hooves for hands on the wheel never mind having messed up peepers.

The funny thing  is I went to this eye doctor’s with a sackful of needlework. NEEDLEWORK! At the eye doctor’s! where the first thing they do to you is tap your head back pry open your frightened little eyes and squeeze an oily yellow blurt of squirt into them!

The squirt is a numbing agent of some kind  that anesthetizes the area so that they can then squeeze in the drug that dilates the pupils – or as the tech explained it, paralyzes the muscles so your poor irises CAN’T contract to protect the eye from too much light. Bring on the eclipses!  The light barrels on in and that’s how they check your pressures to be sure nobody backstage there is cookin’ up a sneaky case of glaucoma, which can leave you blind – or, in my mother’s case, necessitate an iridectomy that leaves you with eyes like a goat (see above.)

Make no mistake: I’m happy to have my eyes checked. In fact and I find all parts of the exam both entertaining and instructive. I just can’t seem to get it through my head every year that of the muscles are paralyzed I won’t be able to focus. That is, read.

Or choose a playlist on my iPod.

Or, God  knows, do needlework.

And yet I brought the iPod.

I brought the needlework

I brought even the Kindle thinking to set it on A VERY LARGE FONT for the 40 or so minutes I would be waiting for my pupils to dilate and my doctor to finish Facebooking her friends over her ham sandwich .

In the end it was all foolishness. First, the wait was one 15 minutes, and second , the muscles of my eye were stopped in their tracks, like the butterflies my sister and I used to asphyxiate and then mount with common pins in our grandfather’s old cigar boxes.

So no reading. No groovin’ on tunes. Certainly no needlework.

I just had to sit looking like this for six hours waiting for the drug to wear off. Paralyzed is paralyzed it seems, however strong you may wish otherwise.

Eye Exam

It’s like when the dentist says “You’ll feel a little pressure,” then  kneels on your chest and tries to pull out your whole lower jaw.

Only here at the eye doctor they say  “This may sting just a little.” Then they squeeze three drops of pool-cleaning acid into your eyes. 

That’s for the glaucoma test.

The three more drops per side are to dilate your pupils into deep black pools so they can see if all those quadratic equations you learned back in high school are still kicking around in there.

 It was the annual eye exam for me yesterday where besides staring sightless into a wall for an hour I also learned a lot because I asked a lot.

Specifically I learned that:

  • You can indeed tell if people are heavy drinkers by examining their eyes.
  • You can also tell if they have high blood pressure.
  • You can tell if they have age spots in their eyes because well, there they are.
  • You can tell if they’re scaredy-cats by saying “Suspicious of glaucoma” even as they are writing this on your chart and then noticing if they start  hyperventilating (“Not to worry.” the doctor said. “It just means your mother had glaucoma.”)   She sure did have glaucoma. They found the glaucoma in her and sent her to the hospital without even letting her go home and pack a suitcase. They did a bilateral iridectomy and she went through the rest of her life with goats’ eyes.

The age spots in the eye are called Drusen I also learned. “Do NOT look it up on the internet!” she said.  “They’re only a problem when they appear in the macula; yours are more nasal and temporal,” meaning crowded into the corners of my eyes where they’re hanging out like middle schoolers at the mall.

She was nice, as always, but the technician was really great. She got briefly called away from my vision test when a young aide stepped into the room and said “I have a blinker next door. Can you help me?”

“What’s a blinker?” I asked.

“Oh just a person who can’t keep his eye open for the drops.”

Sensible man, I thought. She slipped out and was back in a jiffy. “And hat do you do in a  case like that? Hypnotize the person?”

“Ha ha no” she said then paused for that crucial comical beat:  “We just give  ‘em a good hard whack on the head.”

I laughed, stared sightless at the wall another three hours, then went home and looked up Drusen on the internet.