Walking into my eye doctor appointment, I have only one concern-- getting out in time to pick up Evan from her preschool class at the Y.
So naturally, after taking a seat in the exam chair, I ask the technician:
"Do you need to dilate my pupils this visit?"
"Yes, we do."
However, when I explain why I need to leave in an hour, she says:
"No problem, we'll have you done in plenty of time."
Anyhow, after reading and reciting countless rows of letters-- both near and far away -- we discover that I need stronger prescription lenses (man, I'm getting old). And then, it's time for the drops.
I hate the drops.
(But I gotta say, it's a whole lot worse watching Joseph get them.)
We begin with the numbing solution-- so she can check my "eye pressures."
A seasoned pro, she squirts the stuff in both eyes so fast, I hardly know what's happening.
Then, picking up something that looks much like an oversized lancing device, she steps forward and "pokes" the thing at my right eye.
"Okay, let's do this again," she tells me, "and this time try not to hold your breath-- that increases the pressures."
"Oh-- huh. Well, uh... " I begin tentatively, not wanting to sound like a wimp. "What ever happened to the machine with the blue light?"
"Do you prefer that? Well, I think this is so much easier. You just have to relax and breathe."
Amazingly, I do-- and she gets the test done on the second try.
Next, she picks up a small dropper filled with the dilating solution, and before I can brace myself, the drops are in.
"Wow," I tell her with a smile, "you're good."
And now I'm alone.
Waiting for the eyes to dilate, thumbing through an old issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I sit and wonder how Evan is liking her new class, and how Joseph is doing on that spelling test I helped him prep for at breakfast.
Dr. C finally steps in.
We chat about the family, my eyes -- the whole time, I'm thinking:
Man, I wish she was a pediatric ophthalmologist-- Joseph would really like her.
Then she has me lean into the chin and forehead rests in front of me, as she looks into my dilated pupils.
She does this for a long time, saying nothing.
"Sandra, why don't you sit back. I'm going to take a look inside your eyes using this," she says, picking up a rectangular shaped device that's a little larger, but flatter than Joseph's insulin pump. She then pushes a button on the side of my chair-- causing it to rise a couple of feet.
Hmm... she's never done this before.
While holding the device close to my right eye (and shining its built-in beacon of a light into that eye), the doc has me look up, high to the right, down, etc... repeating the exam with the other eye.
Once finished, she lowers my chair, takes a seat herself, makes some notes-- and then begins rifling through my file.
"You came in last year, didn't you?" she asks-- obviously not finding the results from my previous appointment.
"Sure did," I tell her.
"Wait-- here we go," she says, holding up a piece of paper. For a few moments, she quietly studies its contents.
Finally, the doc turns to me, takes a breath and in a serious tone, asks:
"Sandra, is there any history of glaucoma in your family?"
"Excuse me? I- I don't know... why?"
"Now, this is probably nothing to worry about, but I'm seeing some optic nerve swelling."
That's all I can say.
"Sandra, I'd like to have you go upstairs and have a photo taken while your pupils are still dilated-- so we have a baseline.
"And then I want you to come back in three months-- I'd like to do a visual field test, and another dilated exam. Also, I think it might be a good idea to get a corneal thickness measurement. I'll write all of this down and you can make these appointments before you leave."
She's writing, and I'm just staring at the back of her head.
"Dr. C-- " I say, finally thinking of a question, "which eye has the swelling?"
"Both of them."
I blink back a few tears.
"Now, Sandra," she begins, noting the look on my face, "I don't want you to worry-- I'd just rather be cautious than not. When you come back in, we can go over all of the results that day. In the meantime, try not to worry."
Swallowing down what little saliva I have left, I ask--
"If it's glaucoma, how is it treated?"
"You would have to use eye drops to keep the pressures down."
And then I don't ask her anything else.
Because I'm just too stunned to think of another question.
After getting the photos taken and scheduling my appointments, I quickly make my way out of the building, across the parking lot and into my car.
Thanks to those damn drops and the bright sun hitting my wide-open pupils, my eyes are killing me.
And my mind is racing.
Later, after talking on the phone with one of my sisters and asking her if there's any glaucoma in our family-- she calls back and says many wonderful, reassuring things.
She also tells me that one of my uncles may have had glaucoma. And my mother's mother.
And possibly, my dad's sister.
Saturday, March 10, 2007