I walked straight down the corridor and trailed the nurse into an open room to the right.
“Take a seat for me,” she said. I glanced around the beige room – it was no larger than a walk-in closet. I sat in the black vinyl chair in the center of the beige room. The nurse sat on the perimeter on a stool facing a desk, a computer monitor behind her on the counter. She tapped the keys, and then swiveled to look at me. “I’m Amy,” she said.
“I’m Liz,” I said, holding out my hand. We shook. She was blonde, friendly-looking. She looked like the sort of person who might go camping over the weekend.
“So,” she said, “what brings you in today?”
I said, “Well, there’s something wrong with my eye,” then smiled.
She smiled back. “Okay,” she said, nodding grimly, “I’ll be sure to make a note of that.”
“Thank you,” I said with mock seriousness. “Actually, I went to an optometrist a couple of weeks ago and he found an issue with my retina. He took some photos and there was a cloud where my macula should be.”
She frowned, turned toward the computer, and started typing. “Any visual symptoms on your end?” she asked.
I nodded and said, “Yep. That’s why I went to the eye doctor in the first place – I can see the cloud. But my peripheral vision in that eye is fine.”
“I see,” she said, typing furiously. “Does it stay still or move with you as you look around?”
“It stays in the center all the time, wherever I look,” I said.
“And when you say cloud, what does it look like exactly?” she asked.
“It’s a grey circle,” I said.
“Alright,” she said. “Are there any other issues with your eyes – do you see floaters? Distortion? Flashing?”
I shook my head. “Well, actually,” I said, shutting my left eyelid and examining my vision again, “I think there may be some distortion around the edges of the cloud.”
She nodded, tapped.
“How’s your left eye?” she asked.
“Totally normal,” I said.
She nodded, her fingers sped over the keyboard, and then she turned toward me. She said, “Okay, then. We’re going to do a couple of tests before I send you down the hall to meet Dr. Patron. He’ll probably want us to get some close up photos of your eyes, but he’ll want to say hello first.” She handed me an occluder, the handheld 3-D glasses type with only one hole punched in the plastic to test each eye’s acuity individually.
“Go ahead and leave on your glasses for me,” she said, “And read as many of the letters on the wall as you can.”
I brought the occluder up to my face, rested it on the bridge of my nose, and peered out the hole with my right eye. The room darkened and a light flicked on, revealing a row of blurry letters.
I squinted, trying to will the light to clear into crisp black shapes on a white background, like I knew it should look. Instead, I saw distorted lines on the edges of my vision – like staring at a fun house mirror — and a blank grey spot in the center.
“I can’t read any of those,” I said.
“Okay,” she said. I heard her typing, and then she said, “What about these?” She pressed a button and the wall flashed.
I squinted, then said, “I can just make out the letter of the end of the row – is it a V?”
“Uh huh,” she said. The keyboard clattered beneath her fingers. “What about now?”
I stared for a few seconds, concentrating, breathing slow. “I think I can do a few on this line: that center one is P, then G, and then maybe X on the end? And the far left letters I can’t make out at all. I just see grey – that part of my vision is totally opaque.”
I heard typing. Then she said, “Alright, let’s try that left eye.”
“Even though we’re here for my right eye?” I said.
“Yep,” she said. “It’s good for reference, and we’d like to watch your left retina closely as well.”
“Got it,” I said, flipping the occlude around so that the hole opened to my left eye this time.
“Perfect,” she said. “Now, can you read this line for me?” she said.
The shapes snapped into focus. “H-O-B-V-P-K,” I said in one breath.
“And this one?” she said.
“E-R-A-G-Y-L,” I said.
“Last one,” she said.
“Q-T-D-I-X-C,” I said.
“Perfect,” she said, speeding over the keys. I smiled with relief.
“So, is my vision in that eye 20/20?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said.
“At least one eye is working,” I said to myself.
To Be Continued…
This post is part of my “Through A Mirror Dimly” series about a recent health issue I’ve been experiencing. I started telling this story during 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?
ALSO I will be concluding this series soon so I can resume telling my falling-in-love story. Just a few more posts to go until this will be complete (for now – though I think it’s probably turned into a book project at this point, over 13,000 words into writing!). I’d love to hear what you thought of the series – comment away!