Yes, this really is me, facing down one of those Clockwork Orange-esque eye-test contraptions that you sit your mug into when you go to the optometrist. Having fairly recently re-acquired insurance (after a 6 year gap), I get eye checkups every year now. And just to remind me that time was passing, God gave me a hiccup this time. Last year: nada. This year: Glaucoma?
Yes, that glaucoma. As in: pressure-on-the-eye-that-eventually-causes-blindness-disease. My internal eye pressure which was normal last year was high enough this year for my doc to order more tests and put me in a waiting period. To say the least, I was pretty unexcited at the prospect of going blind sometime in the future. I have always taken good care of myself, and the idea that nature and fate were going to curse me just out of a random throw of cruelty darts was really getting me down. My eye doctor told me not to worry (easy for her to say, she’s got glasses, and apparently nothing to worry about), and that I should come back in 1 to 3 months for a follow up.
I chose 1 month. Best to find out when my eyeballs were going to explode from the volcanic pressure that I was sure was mounting even as I felt my way along the corridor outside, wondering if I’d even be able to see it next time.
A month is a nice length of time when you’re on vacation in Hawaii. It’s an eternity if you’re waiting to find out if a cloak of darkness will eventually descend upon your eyes. The realization of mortality, of human limitation, and all that I have not achieved fell like mattress-sized dominoes. I wondered if I would still be able to write if I could not see. Maybe this was a good time to switch to that acting career everyone always told me I should pursue. Or maybe it was time to dip into savings and go to Hawaii before I couldn’t see it anymore.
When I revisited my eye doctor, I went through a round of tests, much like looking at an old computer game. I was sure I was missing peripheral dots of light… that my plunge into blackness was just around the corner. Would I get a cane? Or a dog? Would I have to move back home where I’d ramble around the house like Lynn Holly Johnson in “Ice Castles” until finally rescued by a Robby Benson-like hero? It was all too much to think about. Until she told me that my pressure was fine.
“Fine?” I asked. I’d already checked with relatives to see if there was a history of glaucoma. I’d already begun working on my ‘Well, I’d love to keep working for this company…but’ speech. What? I’m not going blind?
She said that sometimes the pressure rises and they don’t know why. It was just a glitch. I left feeling two feet taller than I’d felt in years. I took off my sunglasses and really looked at everything around me.
The truth is that it could come back, or I could be in an accident, or that maybe there’s a transatlantic plane in my future that’s headed for the bottom of the ocean. But in the mean time, I have the knowledge that the future is unsure. The only thing that is sure, is appreciation. Look around. See, hear, taste, feel, and do.
Eyesight is as tenuous as life itself. Lose one, and the other is drastically different, or ceases to exist at all. So finances be damned, maybe I'll be taking that trip to Hawaii after all!