November 11, 2014

The Day That Had Me Questioning Everything


The last time I had an eye exam, I was in sixth grade. Unlike the majority of my middle school memories, it was not particularly traumatic; if anything, I remember leaving feeling a bit smug about my "perfectly healthy" vision.

I blame that incident entirely for the confusing life upheaval that happened last Monday, which had me questioning everything I thought I knew about myself.

The moment the technician called me into the pre-exam room that morning, I knew that this was not going to be your standard middle school eye exam. I walked into the room expecting to see my old friend, Eye Exam chart with the big E. Instead, I saw an array of torture devices with various chin straps, head guards, and what looked like a laser.

For the next seven minutes, Cheryl the technician barked orders ("Put your chin here! Look left! Look right! Click this clicker! Dance, monkey, dance!") from her side of the devices. She taunted me with flashing dots, lit my pupils, even sent little puffs of air into my wide open eyeballs (which she said was to test my eye pressure, but I'm sure it was just to test my will to endure).

Once she had finished physically breaking down my resistance, she then began working on my mind.

She first lulled me into a false sense of security by testing my color vision with different colored numbers. It was only after I became complacent that she gave me a pair of "3D glasses" for reading a "3D book" so that I could identify which circles were most 3D.

That's when I lost it. I stumbled and staggered, saying "Left? No, right! Definitely the right one! I think..." Even with my 3D glasses, I could see Cheryl's brow furrowing as she looked over her clipboard. She wasn't buying it.

Yet somehow, even after Cheryl's distressing 3D circle fiasco, I was foolishly hopeful when I first entered the actual exam room. Why? Because sitting there waiting was my old familiar friend, Eye Exam chart with the big E.

But little did I know, I could no longer trust Big E. Because somewhere along the line, all of Big E's little Es had turned into fuzzy, dancing Ds. Or maybe they were Ps? I wanted to leave but the doctor needed to figure out my prescription, which led to an ordeal that I can only describe as harrowing.

You see, evidently the best way to decide which glasses one needs is to flip different lenses through a pair of binoculars as fast as possible, demanding the victim choose "1 or 2? 3 or 4? 1 or 2? 3 or 4? 5 or 6?" at increasing speeds. (I'm convinced that every once in a while, she'd throw in a rogue 7, just to mess with me.)

But even with the sassy sevens, I didn't really start questioning my existence until the first time I thought I had told her which lense looked more clear only to have her screech to a halt and demand, "Are you SURE?!"

The thing is, I thought I was sure. My eyes had told me I was sure. But apparently, I was not sure. Actually, I should have been very unsure  because actually, I was wrong for trusting my inadequate, air puffed eyes.

And if I can't trust my own eyes, what can I trust?

Eventually, she broke me. It was only then that she said, "Okay, you're farsighted but because your eyes are working so hard, they get tired which is also making you nearsighted."

I didn't even have the strength to ask her what in the world that means. Instead, I just nodded.

Then, surely sensing defeat, she told me that because I hadn't had a proper eye exam since before Clay Aiken, she recommended that I spend $40 on another test that involved a laser. Now, I was broken, but I was still aware enough to know that no, I didn't want to spend $40 to have my retinas lasered.

She then began threatening me with "spontaneous retina detachment," warning me that if I left without her $40 laser, I was at risk of my own retinas becoming spontaneously detached. And let me tell you, if there's one thing it sounds like retinas shouldn't be doing, it's spontaneously detaching.

I ended up leaving the exam with my $40 still intact (and my retinas questionably so), but that was the only thing. My pride and my confidence in my ability to identify floating 3D circles? They took that along with my $35 co-pay.

Oh yeah, and it turns out I need glasses.