14 | Mercy All Around Us

The next morning, I woke up tired: Zeke had woken us a couple of times with crying and throw up, and by morning, we had draped his bed with towels, and the washing machine thundered with the soiled fitted sheets, pajamas, and blankets from the nighttime.

I opened my eyes, staring at a blurry ceiling and remembered in a flash that today we’d finally learn what was wrong with my eye. Just a few more hours of not knowing, I thought, and I sat up suddenly. Jeremy sighed and turned onto his stomach, burrowing his face into his pillow. I looked at my phone and saw a text from Kiley: “Can definitely still watch Hope. We’re planning on it. Keep me posted if anything changes.”

I smiled and whispered, “Thanks, God.”

13 | Night Before – Part 2

Once we were finally driving home, a plastic grocery bag wrapped around Zeke’s torso as he dozed in his car seat, I asked Jeremy: “What are we going to do?”

“I guess we bring Zeke with us,” he said. “Kiley can watch Hope, and we’ll take Zeke.”

“But if Zeke’s really sick, then she won’t want to be around any of us – otherwise her kiddo will get sick, too,” I said.

We’re quiet for a bit, and then I said, “I can’t believe this.”

“Yeah,” he said.

12 | Night Before – Part 1

The night before the appointment in early February, Jeremy, the kids, and I brought a salad to Morgan and Joel’s house for a Superbowl party. We milled around, sometimes reclining on their yellow couch, sometimes filling plates with food at their long table and sitting on the benches along the length of their table. We talked, ate guacamole and chips, glanced at commercials, and drenched salad in homemade dressing as their kids and ours run up and down the stairs in wild delight, chasing each other and building towers and playing hide-and-seek.

While I chopped cucumber to finish assembling the salad, crammed into an alcove in the kitchen, Joel filled cups with water.

He asked me, “So, how is your eye? How are you feeling?”

11 | Hope I Didn’t Scare You

“I’m so sorry, Liz,” Sheryl said.

“Thanks, Sheryl.” My friend Sheryl had stopped by during naptime a couple of days after the appointment. We talked on my teal couch in the basement, surrounded by bookshelves, cups of hot tea in our hands.

“Who is your specialist, if you don’t mind me asking?” she said.

“Colorado Retina Associates,” I said.

“That’s who Carl saw – did I ever tell you he had an eye issue?” she said.

“What? No – what happened?” I said.

10 | Debrief – Part 3

I called the specialist’s office back the next morning at 8AM, determined to demand that the receptionist write my name on the calendar, to discover that Dr. Jordan had done my work for me.

“You can find all the new patient forms online, if you’d like to fill them out ahead of time,” Sherry said.

“Thank you,” I said. “Um, by the way, how much do these appointments typically cost? I don’t really have insurance – it’s a sharing program, so we pay all the bills up front.”

“You’re self-pay?” Sherry asked.

“I guess so,” I said.

“For self-pay clients, you have to pay $250 up front when you arrive, then the rest after the appointment – depends on the tests they do. They usually do an ultrasound on the first appointment. Could be up to $1200.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Wow,” I said. “So, the doctor actually already took photos of my eye… could we use those instead so we won’t have to repeat tests?”

“Sorry, these doctors like to take their own photos,” she said.

“I see,” I said.

9 | Debrief – Part 2

“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?”

8 | Debrief – Part 1

I sobbed on the way home, squinting at road signs through the roll-up sunglasses wedged between my glasses and my face. The plastic clung to the edges of my forehead; my dilated pupils ached in the afternoon sunshine.

By the time I pulled the car into the driveway, my husband had already emailed his boss and claimed a personal day. I opened the door and my husband stood in the center of the dining room, my kids on the floor playing beneath him – they turned to look at me.

“Mommy!” said my two-and-a-half-year-old son, while my four-year-old daughter hid beneath the table, giggling.

“Hey, bud,” I said to him.

“Hi,” my husband said to me.

I closed the door and walked toward my husband. I rested my head on his chest, and he embraced me. “Are you okay?” he said.

I stood up straight and said, “It looked like an explosion in my eye.”

7 | Appointment – Part 5

I texted my husband: “Bad news – definitely an issue with my right eye. loudly crying emoji”

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.

6 | Appointment – Part 4

“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.

5 | Appointment – Part 3

Dr Jordan said, “First, I’d just like to test the pressure of your eye. Please tip your head back, and I’ll just place some numbing drops in your eye, like so…” I leaned my head back against the chair and one at a time, he raised a bottled, squeezed it, and liquid dropped into my eyes. I blinked furiously and the solution streamed down my cheeks.

He handed me a tissue. “Go ahead and wipe your eyes if you like and then tip your head back again for me – thank you,” he said.

Then he approached my eyes with an object I couldn’t identify, which he seemed to touch to my eye before I heard, “Good. Eye pressure looks normal.”