I texted my husband: “Bad news – definitely an issue with my right eye. ”
He texted back: “Oh no!”
“Yep,” I texted. “Dr is doing dilation test to find out more…So I’m waiting for my pupils to dilate more…He told me, let’s not do glasses today”
He texted, “Are you going to be able to drive?”
“Yeah, I think so,” I texted. “I’m just trying to cry too much – ha.”
“Aww…Praying for you my love,” he texted.
I looked up and saw, through the fog of dilated pupils and tears, the models on the TV screen across the lobby, with their shiny new glasses and sleek bodies, laughing and grinning in an endless loop of sunshine and snow and skiis – they probably don’t even need glasses, I thought.
I sighed and stood, not bothering to dry my cheeks. I knew I could put a wall between me and Andy’s curious glances if I hid behind the glasses display cases, so I walked over to the nearest and studied the pairs. I picked one up, took off mine with one hand, and set the display frames on my nose with the other hand. I peered at myself in the mirrors lining the wall – though blurry, I could tell that these were too round for my face. I set them down and hooked my own glasses onto the edge of my collar. For the next fifteen minutes, I pressed glasses of all shapes and dimensions onto my face until I’d picked my top two.
I decided, why not get new glasses today? After all, my groupon covered the visit for a new prescription and a portion of the cost of new glasses, and I had been itching to replace my current pair for months.
Resolutely, hoping my heels would back me up, I walked up to Andy’s desk. “You know, actually, I would like to get a new pair of glasses today,” I said.
He looked up, surprised. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll tell Dr. Jordan – I’m sure we can do that for you.”
“Thank you,” I said, and returned to the armchair, where I scrolled through photos in an app on my phone until Dr. Jordan walked down the hall a few minutes later.
“I hear you want to do glasses today, after all?” he said.
“Yeah, I think I’d like to still like a new pair, if you don’t mind,” I said.
“Sure, sure, that’s no problem,” he said. “I believe your eye is probably dilated enough at this point – how about you come back, and we’ll get you a prescription?”
I followed him back to the exam room, sat in the chair, and he placed the mask over my face.
“We’ll get this prescription out of the way first,” he said. He quickly flipped through the lenses, and I told him my favorites amongst the pairs. When we’d finished, he turned to his computer, and typed his findings into my chart.
“Right,” he said. “Now to our other task.”
“Right,” I said.
“Okay,” he said.
“Sounds good,” I said.
Meanwhile, he had rolled a small table in front of me, with what looked like a microscope on the doctor’s end – with two eye pieces for the doctor to look through – and a chin rest on mine. Automatically, I leaned my face forward, resting my forehead and chin on the plastic bars – by now, I knew what was expected of me.
“Try to look straight ahead, over my left shoulder,” he said, as he shone a small flashlight in my face, first pointed at my right eye, then my left, then my right again.
I tried not to blink and to empty my mind of anything but the image of the doctor’s beige drywall, but I felt my stomach sinking to the floor as the doctor remained silent. His silence felt like a diagnosis.
Finally, Dr. Jordan said, “So I am seeing something in that right eye, but I’d like to take some photos to be sure. Your left eye looks perfectly healthy.”
“That’s good news,” I said.
“Indeed,” he said, sitting up. He turned away to tap on his keyboard.
“Right, so, please move to this seat over here,” he said, pointing to the table at the other end of the room, across from another magnifying device.
I stood, walked across the room, and sat. Dr. Jordan dimmed the lights, and sat opposite me, across the table.
“Chin here,” he said, and I leaned forward, setting my chin and forehead on the rests. “Now, focus on the light, and best as you can, try not to blink,” he said.
I held my breath, and stared down a dark hole in which a green light flashed rhythmically in front of my right eye.
“Good,” he said. Then he turned a dial, and the flashing light switched sides. “Now, the left eye,” he said.
I held my breath again, willing myself to think of nothing, to make my mind static, to not cry.
“Good,” he said. I heard him typing, then clicking the mouse, then the warm hum of the machines as he stared at his screen.
I leaned back in my chair. He looked at me, and then he looked back at the monitor. He clicked one image and enlarged it.
“Liz, this is an image of the back of your left eye,” he said. “And this little dot there is the macula,” and he pointed to a black circle with a reflective dot in the middle. Reminds me of a black-eyed pea, I thought. He continued: “The macula is your central vision – it’s how you focus and, say, read a book. All of this looks perfectly healthy.”
He clicked the mouse and another image filled the screen.
“This is your right eye,” he said. I gasped. “The macula should be right here, on the left, but you can see that there’s sort of a cloud where that little dot should be.”
“Yeah,” I said.
“This is not normal,” he said.
“Okay,” I said, my eyes filling. “Do you know what it is?”
“You know, I mostly give prescriptions,” he said. “I see healthy eyes all day. So, I don’t want to guess at a diagnosis – I’m going to refer you to a specialist.”
“Ok,” I said.
“I just don’t want to tell you the wrong thing,” he said. “It doesn’t look like glaucoma to me or even macular degeneration, so I’m just not sure.”
“Okay,” I said. “I appreciate that,” I said.
Dr. Jordan reached for a pad of paper and started scribbling: “They’re the best. Give them a call today or tomorrow – I’m not saying you need to get in today to see them, but you know, get in as soon as you can.”
I nodded. “Well,” I said. “Thank you. This was what I was hoping for.”
“Not exactly what you were hoping for,” he said ruefully.
“Right,” I said, and smiled. “But I wanted information. And you gave it to me.”
“I understand,” he said. “Andy will help you from here. And don’t forget to claim your roll-up sunglasses on the way out – you’ll need them to get home.”
I nodded and stood, dazed. It turned out, my eye was not okay – just as I’d feared. What now?
Dr. Jordan shook my hand. “Good luck,” he said.
Note about the images in this post: these are photos of my eye that Dr. Jordan sent me after this eye appointment. You are seeing the actual images I saw in his office that we discussed at the end of my appointment.
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!