I had a visit with my optometrist today, and, as usual, I left feeling like I’d just participated in a stand-up comedy act. My optometrist and my dentist are two of the funniest folks I know. If I wasn’t paying for their health care services, I think I might pay them just to make me laugh.
Today’s fun started when the assistant asked me if I’d be willing to have my eyes dilated. I do not like having my eyes dilated, but if it’d help the doctor see in my eyes… “Okay,” I said. As she was putting the drops in I asked, “So why don’t they dilate the eyes of pregnant women?” The assistant said she wasn’t sure, but they didn’t put the eye drops in the eyes of pregnant women, nursing women, or people with one kidney.
That last bit sort of caught me up short. The assistant left to find out more, and came back a few moments later to say that apparently the chemicals in the eye drops could interact with the medicines that a person with kidney problems might be taking, and cause kidney failure. But otherwise the eye drops were alright.
This was reassuring.
Enter the doctor. He asks me how I’m doing, and I say something like, “Well, other than possible kidney failure, I’m doing alright, I guess.” He starts laughing and brings me back into his examination room. He puts on this helmet thing with weird tubes and gizmos sticking out of it. “You look very dapper in that,” I observe. He grins and wonders aloud if he should take it out of the clinic and strut down the street in it.
I tell him that I didn’t bring my sunglasses with me, and that – since my eyes have been dilated – I’m really looking forward to getting a pair of their special dorky sunglasses for my drive home – I always look so good in those things. He smiles and promises that a pair of dorky sunglasses will be mine.
He has grown a rather substantial beard since I last saw him – it’s about a foot long and nicely rounded at the bottom. I tell him he looks sort of like Santa Claus. He says being Santa Claus would be alright as long as random strangers didn’t try to sit on his lap or ask him for candy. I tell him about my friend who grew a beard down to his waist. “He said food would get stuck in there – he sometimes found whole sandwiches in that thing.” My optometrist notes you wouldn’t need a lunchbox with a beard like that.
All this time he’s examining my eyes, looking into them with his little flashlight dealie. He says they look pretty good in there. No signs of macular degeneration or anything. I mention that in a recent photo it looked like one of my eyes was sort of looking off to the side while my other eye was looking straight ahead, and he asks me to look at him while he shines his light on my eyes. “No,” he says, “everything looks good. Ah… yes, I see.” I ask him what he sees. He tells me that one of my eyelids is more saggy than the other, which makes it look like I have one eye that’s looking off to the side.
“Oh! Is that all?! Heck… I lost my vanity long ago. A saggy eyelid is no big deal.” He laughs and says that at our age we have more important things to worry about… like, say, breathing.
I remind him of the time when he saw a melanoma on my eyelid. I tell him that totally freaked me out. Of course, the more freaked out I get, the more I start cracking jokes. I reminded him that I went out to his receptionist and started making her laugh and then when they called the eye surgeon’s office for me, I started making THAT receptionist laugh – and then he had walked in, heard me joking about my impending death and had said, “Don’t start ordering caskets just yet” – and that had totally had me in stitches.
“That broke the fear for me, ” I tell him. “And then I went home and prayed and two weeks later when I went to the eye surgeon the melanoma was gone!” He checks his records and sees that my story rings true, and he likes that.
We talk about prayer then. I’ve been going to him for more than twenty years, but for the first time I confide to him that I am a Christian Scientist, and – to his credit – he doesn’t freak out or anything. He nods his head and waits to hear more. I tell him that when I pray I’m not, like, pleading with some guy who looks like him – with a long beard – sitting in the clouds. But that I’m just trying to bring myself close to the power of Love. And he nods and says he believes there’s a Higher Power, too, and he believes that there’s more beyond the life that we’re experiencing here.
We start talking about other religious beliefs then – and those who try to bring their religious beliefs into politics and government – not just in America, but elsewhere. The conversation about religious extremism ends with him saying, “I don’t want 70 virgins if I have to feed them and buy them bling and stuff. Can I pass on the virgins, and killing other people, and just be a kind and humane person instead?”
He walks me out to the receptionist’s desk, and tells her that I’ll need some of the special sunglasses they give out to patients. Then he turns to me, and tells me my eyes are looking really good – very nice and healthy. I tell him that’s probably the best compliment I’ll get all day. He smiles, and says, “Not with those sunglasses!”
He shakes my hand and tells me how much he always enjoys my visits. And I tell him how much I enjoy my visits with him.
And in another couple weeks I’ll be going to the dentist! I’m so looking forward to that… 🙂
Karen in her special sunglasses.