“Let’s try with your left eye and we’ll get back to that right eye in a minute,” Dr. Jordan said. “Can you flip around that occluder? Yep, like that. Now we’ll do the same with your left eye. And go ahead and read that first line for me.”
“H, S, K, R, N,” I said.
“Okay, the next one,” he said.
“C, H, K, R, V, D,” I said.
“And the next one,” he said.
“O, K, H, D, R, N,” I said.
“Next one,” he said.
“D, N, K, U, O, S,” I said.
“Next,” he said.
“U, E, O, B, T, V,” I said. “And T…W. Then J, uh… S… P.”
“Good,” he said, nodding, and turning to his keyboard to make a note.
He turned back toward me. “Okay, how about you look through here now with that right eye?” he said, swinging the many-eyed black metal mask toward my face by its arm.
I leaned forward and felt the cold weight of the mask on my forehead. If I submitted to every test, as ridiculous as they each felt in the moment, the doctor would surely find that this was all just a mistake. Right?
I heard Dr. Jordan turn the dials, and a lens flipped in front of my right eye.
“Let’s start with this,” he said. “Look at that E on the chart ahead, and tell me is the first better…or the second?” He spun a dial and a new lens clicked into place in front of my eye.
“Uh, I think the second?” I said.
The lens changed. He said, “What about this one, or this one?” he said, and the lens changed again.
“The first, I guess,” I said.
“Okay, now, first, or second?” he said. A new lens flipped down for a moment, to be replaced by another a few seconds later.
“Uh…I can’t tell,” I said.
“Okay,” he said.
I sighed, trying to suppress the panic rising in my throat, and I said, “They look about the same to me. I can’t tell a difference in my peripheral vision, and I still can’t see through this cloud.”
“Alright,” he said, and he moved the arm of the mask away from my face, and put his hands on his knees, leaning forward. He furrowed his brow and looked into my eyes as he said, “I think, at this point, we’re no longer getting you a new prescription; we’re trying to diagnose a problem.”
I nodded and felt my eyes fill.
“We’re not going to get you glasses today – but I do want to take a better look at the back of your eye,” he said.
“Alright,” I said.
“Good,” he said, nodding.
“I’m sorry,” I said, wiping my face. “I just feel sad about this.”
Dr. Jordan looked surprised, “About what?”
I smiled, “About my eye sight. But I’m okay — I want to keep going.”
“Right,” he said. “Okay,” he said. He nodded emphatically, and handed me a tissue from a box on the desk.
Tears dripped onto my chest. He said, “I want to give you some drops that will dilate your right pupil – is that okay?”
“Yes,” I said, “I want as much information as I can get.”
“Okay,” he said. “These drops are extra strong and take about fifteen minutes to work. So, I’ll go ahead and put the drops in, then send you back to the waiting room, then I’ll come back and get you once the drops have worked so we can resume our tests. Sound good?”
I nodded, dabbing my eyes with the tissue.
He stood and opened the door. I stood, swung my backpack over my shoulder, and walked out, my heels padding on the carpet. I retreated to the familiar arm chair, trying to flash Andy a smile as I did so, as Dr. Jordan informed his optician that I would not be getting glasses today, but instead would be undergoing more tests in a quarter of an hour.
Meanwhile, I opened the smallest pocket of my backpack, took out my phone, and typed a text message to my husband: “Bad news – definitely an issue with my right eye. ”
To be continued…
This post is part of my “Through A Mirror Dimly” series about a health issue I’ve been experiencing. I’m telling this story through the season of Lent as a way to make sense of the ways that my own suffering teaches me about the suffering of Jesus Christ.
I also invite you to engage with your own suffering through this series: how does your personal pain illuminate the suffering of Jesus for you? And what can your pain teach you about the life of faith?
If you have any thoughts to add, comment below!