Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jill & Eye -or- Eye Sore

“It’s really quite an anamoly,” the optometrist says somewhat excitedly to me as she pulls back from the eye torture exam contraption.  

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had an aversion to eyeballs.  Close-up images make me gag.  Witnessing eyeballs being touched or altered in any way makes me dry heave.  And, no kidding, when I speak to you face-to-face, where a normal person looks into your eyes, I focus on your mouth.  I speak to mouths.  This has always been my way.  No likey the eyeballs.

I’m not sure where this fear stems from, though I’d like to pin it on my parents.  See, I can remember being young and my mom having to straddle my dad on the couch w/ his hands under his ass just so she could insert drops into his eyes.  To me, this was nothing more than logical.  What didn’t make sense was how anyone could voluntarily permit anything - liquid or otherwise - to touch their eyeballs.  So, I like to think I adopted this fear of the eyeball from my dad.  Thx Dad.

The day started like any other.  I headed into the office for some stimulating spreadsheet analysis and conference call navigation.  That’s right, I work in the live music business.   

Mid morning around 10, I noticed something was irritating my left eye.  It happens to us all.  Probably some lint or something.  So, absentmindedly, I tried to rub it out.  No luck.  11...12...it’s now 3...the pain is getting worse and it’s so distracting that I can’t focus on my riveting conference calls or the cells in my spreadsheets.  I decide its time to close up shop and head home in an effort to sleep it off - or out - of my system.

I call Jilly to let her know I’m heading home.  Apparently she has forgotten my eye phobia and recommends I redirect myself to her optometrist’s office to see if they can fix the problem.  “I’ll call ahead, make the appointment, and let them know your issue w/ eyes,” she says supportively.   I put up a bit of a fight, but ultimately caved b/c the pain was only getting worse.  So, I pirate-eyed my way over to the “doctor’s” office.

Upon entering the office, I proceeded to check in, fill out paperwork, and provide insurance information all while my eye continued to tear and become more and more irritated.  I took a seat and waited for my number.  

It was at that time - for those few minutes - when it really sunk in where I was.  And this is when the questions began to flood my mind, starting w/ “What am I doing here?  Why not leave?  What will they do?  What will they see?  How will they get anywhere near my eye w/o me attempting to go Jewish ninja all over them?”

The thoughts continued as they led me to the room...you know, the room w/ the chair...that cold chair that is connected to the eye exam equipment.  (I swear replicas of that chair are placed in black sites across the globe to ‘acquire intelligence.’)  As soon as I was seated, the doctor entered and smiled at me as if she was pleased w/ her career choice.  

As much as Jill had attempted to warn the whole building before my arrival, it quickly became clear to me that the message of my phobia had not traveled to the doctor’s ears.  She was much too relaxed, too loose w/ the language.  “I just need to get some eye drops so I can see your eye better.  I’ll be right back.”  She left the room and my heart beat amplified into my ears.

Why drops?  Can we avoid them?  And why so nonchalant about them?  

When she returned, before she attempted to dispel the drops in my eye, I interjected, “I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but I have difficulty w/ eyes and will not likely make this very easy for either of us.  So, do what you need to do, but know that I will be on auto fighter right now.”

The doctor laughed it off and approached me w/ the tiny bottle of drops.  After three attempts, she was able to pry my lid open and drop in the goods.  

“Oh, and this is going to burn like the devil,” she says as she pulls back from my frightened face.  Really, she says this to me.

I’m thinking, what is the matter w/ you?  What kind of torture chair side manner is this?  Burn like the devil?  My wife recommended I come see you?  Does Jilly have an ulterior motive?

Sure enough, just as the burning was setting in, the doctor asked me to place my chin on the contraption to examine my burning eyeball.  This is not a problem for me...just don’t touch the eye.  Look all you want.  Window shop.  Just don’t touch.  Look.  Don’t touch.

After a few seconds, she pulls back, stands up and says, “I’ll be right back...I just need some tweezers.”

What?  What the fuck?  Are you kidding me?  This is a joke, right?  My wife put you up to this.  You don’t use tweezers...do you?  These are official optometrist instruments?

Is she planning to Macgyver my eye?  Was this tweezer at the bottom of her purse, sharing real estate w/ dirty coins and old Trident wrappers?  Is this normal?  I suddenly feel the need to check the diplomas on the wall and the sign on the front door.  Is this place legitimate?

When she returns, there’s no hiding the fear.  She can see it on my face. “It’ll be fine, no big deal” says the devil burner.  She proceeds to prop my chin back up on the stand, move in and come at me w/ the tweezers.  After a minute or so, she slides back and smiles, “Got it.”

My face flushed, I pull back and take a deep breath.  My heart rate is a bit higher than normal.  But I’m ok and apparently cured.  In the clear.

Until the doctor proceeds to explain what caused the irritation and what resulted from it.  “Here’s what happened.  You have pores at the bottom of your eye.”  I’m getting queasy.  “They’re like pockets.  And you got a hair - an animal or human hair, unsure which one - stuck in one of these pockets.”  I’m full on nauseated.  “Not only that, but the hair was sticking out of the pore at a perpendicular angle, rubbing against your eyeball.”  Now I feel like Jilly’s cat as she’s gearing up to yack.  “So, whenever you rubbed your eye, you scratched the hell out of your eyeball, causing a severe abrasion.”  Severe abrasion?  That sounds serious.  Anything w/ the word ‘severe’ in the description sounds serious.  

At this point I’m barely hanging on, but attempting to remain cool and calm on the exterior.  

The doctor turns to her computer to enter her notes into my records, while continuing to explain my recovery plans.  “We’ll need to apply a contact cast to your eye...”

After this term, I hear nothing else but my thoughts...my questions...What’s a contact cast?  Is it an eye patch?  I can do an eye patch.  But what if it’s something else?  Something that actually touches my eye...a cast that is actually applied to my eyeball...something that moves and darts w/ my eye as it shifts directions.  

The next thing I remember I was trying to recall what my previous thought had been, but unable to retrieve it.  What was I just thinking about?  Where exactly am I?  It was difficult for me to grab onto a particular thought…

And then I came to.

I was still in the exam chair, but now found myself drenched in sweat while, w/ a look of deep concern, the doctor applied cold, damp paper towels to my forehead and back of my neck to cool me off.  

Yes, I had passed out.  The combination of everything - the physical irritation, the anxiety over an eye doctor visit, and the overly generous description of my ailment by the doctor - had done me in.  I was on overload and needed a restart.  

I slowly regained my composure, feeling ready to walk out the door and never come back...until I heard the doctor utter, “When you’re done applying the drops, three times daily for a week, I want to see you back for a follow-up examination.”


(Yeah, there’s an epilogue to this one.)

When I left the torture chamber that afternoon, of course I immediately called Jill before driving home.  I proceeded to tell her - in great and dramatic detail - what had just occurred.   

While she fronted a voice of concern on the phone, she later admitted that she had to fight to hold back the laughter that was ready to spew from her face.  She got the biggest kick out of this one.

You’re welcome, babe.

All love,

J, J, & r

Take care of those eyes, kiddo...

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