The nurse stood and flicked the light switch, then walked over to the counter top, next to the computer monitor, and opened a drawer. She rummaged around inside, and turned back toward me with a small plastic dropper.
“I’m going to test your eye pressure,” she said. “Can you look up for me?”
I tilted my chin up.
“Oh, and you’ll need to take off your glasses,” she said. “Right,” I said, “Sorry,” I said. I put my glasses in my jacket pocket. Then I looked up.
Just then, we heard a knock at the door. “Come in,” Amy said.
The door opened a crack and a blurry Jeremy entered with Zeke.
“Hi, hon,” I said.
“Do you want us to sit with you?” Jeremy asked.
“Please!” I said, grinning.
“Great! And you are…?” said Amy.
“Oh, sorry – this is my husband, Jeremy, and my son, Ezekiel,” I said, as they sat in a chair in the corner, Zeke resting his head on Jeremy’s shoulder.
“I failed the eye test, by the way,” I said to Jeremy, smiling. “No surprise there.” He grimaced.
“I’m just now testing her eye pressure,” Amy said.
“So you hardly missed a thing,” I said, tipping my head back as I focused on the ceiling tiles.
I saw her hand move toward me and she squeezed a drop of fluid into each eye. I blinked, and she handed me a tissue.
“I know it’s uncomfortable – you can go ahead and wipe your eyes if you need to,” she said.
I wiped my cheek bones, my lower lids. This felt familiar. “Oh, it’s fine,” I said. “I used to wear contact lenses, so it doesn’t bother me.”
She smiled, then said, “Now just go ahead and look straight ahead at the wall, and try not to blink. Oh, and don’t hold your breath.”
I willed myself to both refrain from blinking and breathe normally — a surprisingly hard task – as she reached for an instrument that looked like an oversized pen on the counter and turned back toward me. She lowered it toward my right eye. I felt everyone’s eyes on me, watching this procedure. Don’t blink, I thought. Breathe, I thought. Straight ahead, I thought.
The pen beeped and she raised the instrument and studied it. “Good,” she said. She turned to the computer and tapped the keyboard.
Then she turned back toward me. “Now the left eye,” she said.
I took a deep breath and stared at the wall again as the pen moved toward my eye. Breathe, I thought.
“Good,” she said again after studying the pen. She noted the result on the computer. The silence filled the space; I reminded myself to breathe.
She turned back to me. “Ok! We’re almost done here. I just need to dilate your eyes, and then I’ll send you in to see Dr. Patron.”
“Alright,” I said, tipping my head back again as Amy brought a small bottle inches from my face and aimed a few drops of the solution onto the surface of each eye. I blinked and wiped my eyes with the tissue in my hand.
“So, Amy,” I said, “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure,” she said, bending over the desk to tap at the computer.
“Well,” I said, “A few years ago, a friend of mine had an eye issue and came to you all for treatment. And his wife warned me that when I came in today, it’d be all retirees in the waiting room because it’s usually older folks who have eye issues. But I actually noticed a more diverse group of people in the waiting room. So, I guess, I’m curious — do you all normally see a lot of young folks, or did I come on an odd day?”
She grinned at me. “Actually, we see all kinds of people.”
I said, “So, I’m not such an outlier?”
“No,” she shook her head. “Not at all.” I smiled: there were others like me, and that comforted me. Maybe what I had was entirely ordinary, easy to treat, predictable even. Maybe there was hope for me.
Amy stood and said, “Go ahead and grab your things and follow me – Dr. Patron will see you now.”
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 by now, over 13,000 words into writing!). I’d love to hear what you thought of the series – comment away!