I extracted my phone from my jean pocket, and then rustled in my backpack for the sticky note onto which Dr. Jordan had scribbled the name of the specialist. I settled into the nearest chair – a mid-century green vinyl chair with wooden armrests, bought off of craigslist – and searched online for a phone number, then dialed.
“Colorado Retina Associates, please hold,” I heard, and then a rhythmic acoustic guitar played in my ear. I smiled, and tapped my foot as I waited. I stuck the note to my knee.
After a minute or two: “Colorado Retina Associates, this is Sherry, how can I help you today?”
“Hi, my name is Liz – Er, Elizabeth – Grant. I just got back from the optometrist. Er… Dr. Jordan. His clinic is in Arvada. I think it’s called Peak Eye Care, or something like that? Anyway, he referred me to you all because he took some photos of my eye and there’s a problem with my…” I scrunched my eyes, “macula. I think that’s how you say it?”
“Ok. Let me check to see if he’s called – I’ll put you on hold for a moment,” she said.
“Alright,” I said as the track started over.
Jeremy walked back into the room, and I said, “Listen to this,” and put the phone on speaker.
“Jazzy,” Jeremy said, as the music abruptly stopped.
“I kind of like it,” I said. “It’s not quite elevator music…”
“It definitely is elevator music,” he said. I rolled my eyes.
“Hello, Elizabeth?” Sherry said.
“Oh, sorry,” I said, pressing the phone to my ear again.
“It looks like no one has called you in yet. Usually we give you a call when we hear from the doctors – so we can give you a call when the fax comes through,” she said.
“Okay, well, is there any way I can make an appointment now, ahead of time?” I said.
“Nope, sorry. We need a doctor’s referral to schedule you,” she said.
“Right,” I said. “I mean, he’s going to send it any second. He told me he’d send it this afternoon.”
“We’ll call you,” she said.
“Thanks, anyway,” I said.
“Bye-bye now,” she said.
I hung up, and turned to Jeremy. “She wouldn’t let me schedule it because Dr. Jordan hasn’t faxed her yet,” I said, rolling my eyes.
“That’s odd,” he said, turning around one of the chairs at our table, so he could sit across from me.
“Yeah, she said they only take referrals, so you have to have a doctor who’s referring you,” I said.
“Huh,” said Jeremy.
I stare at the curved plaster ceiling that we’ve painted a dark grey. “I keep thinking about how the apostle Paul’s ministry starting with a blinding, and then Beth’s son Jason committing suicide because of his eye issue,” I said.
“Well, that was more of a brain issue,” Jeremy said.
“Oh, really? I forgot that,” I said. “Well, anyway, both Beth and Paul had their ministries begin with these eye issues – Beth became a women’s minister at church only a few months before Jason committed suicide, and she told me that it changed the way people saw her – women who had never shared anything with her were making appointments to share their deepest, darkest sins and sorrows. It was like her very obvious suffering gave everyone else permission to be honest with her. And of course, Paul converted because God blinded and then healed him. But remember how Paul talked about having a ‘thorn in his flesh?’ It makes me think, maybe he had an issue with his eyes, like the healing wasn’t total,” I said.
“Could be,” said Jeremy, shrugging.
I sighed and looked at him. “I’m just trying to make sense of why this is happening to me,” I said. “I also keep wondering, did I do something to deserve this eye issue? Is it my fault somehow?”
“No, Liz – it’s not,” Jeremy said, frowning. “Not at all.”
“I know, I know, but it’s hard to shake the feeling,” I said.
“I’m terrified that I have diabetes and don’t know it – then it will definitely be my fault. You know some eye issues are caused by diabetes?” I said.
Jeremy said, “No way – if you had diabetes, you’d know it.”
“I know you’re right. I think it’d be better if it were my fault, in some way – then I’d be in control, sort of,” I said.
Jeremy looked at me a long minute before saying, “Yeah. I get that.”
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?
I’d love to hear your thoughts – comment away! 😀