Maybe it's because we refer to it as a test or exam, but that trip to the eye doctor freaks me out.
That makes no sense, of course, because of all the health checkups, it is the least invasive and embarrassing. It's usually not painful but for some reason I psych myself out.
It starts out fine when you have your glasses on and can see the whole big white chart on the wall, but then it gets tricky.
Glasses are off. Cover one eye.
“What letters can you see?” the doctor asks.
“Well, there’s a big E and then the rest is a big giant blur,” I respond.
“Read what you can see,” she advises.
Here’s where it starts. If I can’t see it why do I feel I must fake it? Yet, I must not fail.
“G D P F V S” and you must say it with conviction. Don’t say it with a question mark at the end or you will give yourself away (the doctor will not say if you are right or wrong).
I actually can see close up so when I get the little chart with the story written out, I read the smallest line with confidence and panache using my radio voice (I don’t think there are bonus points).
When she moves to that big black machine, it gets serious.
She shows you different lenses on each eye and begins the sneaky questioning.
“Which is clearer? One or two?” she asks.
“One or Two?” I repeat the question.
Here’s where I freak out.
One, one, one, one (I am saying too many ones. I better throw in a two. She will think I am a liar). Then on the next flip of the lens, I don’t notice any difference at all and I’m assuming I am being tricked and so I say, “I think those are both the same.” (with a tone that says, "I am on to you, lady").
She moves on to the light tests. You know the one where she puts on the miner’s helmet with the giant light on the front.
“Try not to look at the light,” she suggests.
I feel like I am being grilled by the FBI and all I can see is the light. I feel as though I should admit I didn’t really know if it was a “d” or “p” in the previous test.
“Look at my ear,” she says.
“What ear? I just see a white light. Is this a bad sign?” (I’m not ready to follow the light)
“You will see a green light and then a flash,” she explains.
At what point, I wonder, should I say I don’t see a green light at all, in any form.
Then comes the absolute worst four words in the history of eye exams.
“Try not to blink!"
Now, all I want to do is blink… repeatedly… and I worry if I blink I will go blind but I have to blink. This is agony (I feel like if you were being abducted by aliens that this is how it would start with green lights and no blinking)
Don’t even get me started on the test where you see one line turn into two and then back to a single line. That gives me a headache all on its own.
I always ace the peripheral vision test because I can see her pen coming from around the corner.
I await the results, praying she doesn’t say the “b” word (bi-focal) or worse the “t” word for tri-focal.
When she declares my vision has not changed, I squint with delight. There is that initial relief and then an odd sadness that I don’t get to pick out new glasses.
On the way out of the office, I trip on the mat and fall into the front door.
“No worries,” I yell back to the office staff. "I passed my test. Just clumsy."
What a spectacle!