“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?”
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.
“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.
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.”
I trailed Dr. Jordan down a short corridor and through an open door. He motioned with his hand for me to sit in a blue vinyl exam chair. Two arms extended from the chair, one with a light on the end, and another with a black device I recognized but couldn’t name – it reminded me of a many-eyed metal mask. A small table also attached to the chair and held what looked like a microscope, and in another corner of the room, an angled table held a monitor and several other contraptions.
The next day, I left the kids with Jeremy and drove to an office building in Arvada, a city in the northern suburbs of Denver. I drove right past the optometrist’s office at first because I couldn’t pick it out among the other concrete and glass boxes engulfed by parking lots, but after some cursing, a jaunt through an adjacent parking lot, and a U-Turn, I pulled Jeremy’s truck into the right lot.
I parked, stepped over a parking curb and into a bed full of red mulch and an evergreen shrub, and then up onto the sidewalk. I’d worn my leather ankle boots because it made me feel like a grown-up – I needed every boost I could get – and the heels tapped as I strode across the concrete. I reached the glass doors and looked up, noticing the numbers: 12191 in a 70s font. I was at the right place.
Sometime in mid-January, my vision changed. I noticed that if I closed my left eye, a grey cloud appeared right in the center of my vision.
I tested it for a few days before I said anything, even before I allowed myself any judgments about it – because, surely, it was a fluke.
But each time, I saw a clear peripheral image and a blank grey cloud in the center and distortion at its edges, through which no light passed. I could not read out of my right eye; I could not study my children’s faces; I could not see the names of street signs.