Wednesday, April 07, 2010

eye exams can trigger nightmares

teapots in red

Last week I went to the optometrist. I needed new glasses. It's been five years (shhh...). I was actually scared I would fail the eye test at the DMV (I didn't). And truth be told, B rolled over onto my glasses the last night we spent in Chicago (over 3 years ago). It was time. Beyond time.

I've been wearing glasses since I was five-years old. My eyesight is bad. I haven't been able to see the big "E" for decades (without my glasses, of course), so it didn't come as a surprise that my eyes would get dilated so the doctor could really look inside my eyes. What did surprise me was waking up screaming the next morning. I hate nightmares like that.

I'm sure it wasn't just the bright lights being shined into my eyes. It was deeper than that. Going to the eye doctor is now part of that memory. I thought that if I went to a different eye doctor maybe it wouldn't matter. Although as long as I have put this appointment off, maybe not.

I had an eye appointment scheduled for the day after I found out my Mom had died. Obviously I didn't schedule it that way. It just happened. And I did consider canceling the appointment, but I didn't. Mostly because I didn't want to have to explain why I was needing less than 24 hours notice, and also because a small part of me thought my Mom would be mad at me if I did. (You must understand that the mind of someone who has recently been hit with such a loss, has all sorts of weird thoughts.)

That day after was intense. B insisted that we go take the car in for a check up, but he didn't realize they weren't open on Saturday. I was not amused having driven by myself over there in my car, and then having to drive back alone to the house.

From there, we headed downtown for lunch and then a stop at the office. B had to work. I didn't want to be alone. Plus, I had to go to the eye doctor later that afternoon.

At lunch I used the pay phone (it was 1999) to call my therapist to see if he could see me. I got his voice mail. I just said 'something bad happened' and asked him to call me at B's office number.

Meanwhile, I got to go into the CEO's office and tell him what was up. I had been hired part-time after being let go about a month before from my previous job by my friend. Oh yes, it was a fun month and a half. Needless to say, I learned that saying those words in front of someone was much harder than doing it over the phone. I feel to pieces in front of him. Just started tearing up, and then couldn't control it.

Shortly thereafter, B's phone rang at his desk. It was my therapist. He could see me. I explained that first I needed to go to the eye doctor, so asked if he could see me around 5pm. He agreed. And then he asked me what happened. Somehow I got the words out.

B finished up and then we headed over to see the eye doctor. They were pretty busy. It was Saturday afternoon. I got put in the room by myself with the door closed. I started crying again. Tears just started rolling down my face. Thankfully I managed to regain my composure and wipe up my face before the doctor came in. I didn't want anyone to know.

Somehow I got through the exam. The doctor decided to dilate my eyes. I tried to look at frames while I waited for the dilation drops to work, but really couldn't focus. In the end, I think I came back at another time to pick a frame. We also had to head to the south part of town for my next appointment.

Driving over I looked in the mirror and saw how big and dilated my eyes were. I looked freaky. I remember explaining that it was because of the drops the optometrist put in my eyes - I wasn't as bad off as I appeared.

I got through the session and drove home. There were a few fun messages waiting for me on the machine. I was beyond exhausted at that point. It all becomes a blur from there.

on the night stand :: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.

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