If what they say is true about the eyes being the mirror to the soul, then my soul must be tortured because my eyes are positively tortuous (April 6, 2012: Tortuosity and Dark Matter!).
Yes, it’s true. My last visit to the opthamologist confirmed it. My eyes are, indeed, tortuous – meaning my retinal vessels are, in layman’s terms, “all squiggly like”. This could be indicative of a number of alarming medical conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a lack of oxygen to the brain (which, quite frankly, would explain a lot). OR it could be genetic and perfectly normal (in 13.3% of cases. I don’t like them odds). Anyway, on the advice of my opthamologist, I followed up with my doctor who, after declaring my blood pressure perfectly normal, in turn referred me to an eye specialist – who I visited yesterday.
I arrived ten minutes early for my appointment in the unlikely event they were making good time and wanted to bump me up (I say unlikely but it’s never happened in my lifetime). I took a seat in a surprisingly packed waiting room where I filled out one of those “First Time Visit” questionnaires (Do you do drugs? You checked yes? Great. You’ll be in Room 4 meeting with Officer O’Malley) and then passed the time listening to the muzak being piped through the speaker directly above my chair. I’m not sure, but I think it might have been “Greatest Lute Hits”.
Finally, they called my name and I was ushered into a tiny room where I was informed I would be getting drops to “freeze my eyes”. I imagined the thin liquid surface of my eyeballs crystallizing to twin cataract-like shields, cracking into intricate spiderweb fissures with a double flick of the assistant’s fingers. “This may hurt a little,”she warned as she applied the drops. Hurt?! As it turned out – yes, a bit. I sat up and wiped the liquid from my eyes (and by liquid I mean the excess drops and not my actual tears because, of course, I don’t cry) at which point she produced this tiny pen-like instrument. “Now I’m going to check your eye pressure,”she informed me. “I’m going to tap your eyeball with this.”
“Don’t worry,”she said. “Your eyes are frozen and you won’t feel anything.”
Do you realize how hard it is to keep your eye open will getting your eyeball poked? Very hard. Go ahead, try it. Just give your iris a light tap with your pinky finger. Try not to blink.
I blinked. A lot. So she ended up having to do both eyes twice. “How’s it looking?”I asked.
“You doctor will discuss the results with you,”she replied.
What did THAT mean?!
I was then instructed to peer through a machine, first one eye, then the other, and read a row of numbers and letters. I was feeling fairly confident until I realized that, while my answers for the first two easy rows were the same for both eyes, my responses for the more challenging final two rows different significantly: 8? No, B. No, 8. Wait…it’s a Caduceus!
It was back to the waiting room for more lute music. I was able to pass the time in fairly consistent anxiety, first doing a google search for “eye pressure test” on my cell phone which led me to a second google search for “glaucoma” which inevitably led me to a third search for “glaucoma treatments”. It didn’t look good for your truly. From what I could read – and given my sudden blurred vision and inability to focus, it wasn’t much – the pressure check was a test for glaucoma. The fact that the assistant who performed the test was unwilling to reveal a normal reading (after all, if it was normal why wouldn’t you?) suggested I’d failed. Now, the question was how serious the glaucoma and what kind of irreversible damage had already been done to my vision? Also, what kind of treatment would I be looking at? Had I caught it in time? Would medication suffice? Or would I require laser or more invasive surgeries?
Another fifteen minutes wait before I was summoned into another room. I was asked to peer into another machine and asked to focus on the picture of a distant hot air balloon that came in and out and back into focus, then asked to repeat some more lines – first the right eye, then the left eye. Again, the answers didn’t match up. I tried to joke around with this second assistant, but she’d have none of it. She was either a highly unpleasant individual or, more than likely, had already heard the results of my eye pressure test and been stricken by an overwhelming sadness.
It was back to the waiting room for more of the lute serenade, then my name was called again and I was directed to take a seat in a narrow hallway. My chair was so low I felt like I’d been exiled to the kids’ section. As I sat and waited, I vowed to make the most of my good seeing days. I’d no longer put off reading those books I’d been meaning to get around to. I’d accelerate my productivity and complete those half-finished scripts languishing on my laptop. I’d get around to watching the last few seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia! I’d live life to the fullest!
The door in front of me swung open. A patient left and my name was called. I walked in and took a seat. As the doctor shut the door, I braced myself. Here it came.
“So, when did you first notice the toruosity?”she asked.
I told her it had been brought to my attention while I was in Toronto, then confirmed by a local opthamlogist just last month.
“There could be a number of explanations,”she said.
“High blood pressure,”I offered helpfully.
“Have you had your blood pressure checked recently?”
I told her I had. My blood pressure was normal.
“Well, aside from high blood pressure, you could be looking at other possibilities.”
“Did you have a fasting blood test when you went in for your physical?”
I told her I had and, now that she mentioned it, I realized the doctor had never called me with the results. Maybe no news is good news.
“Or it may mean they misplaced the results,”said Debbie Downer. “You should follow up.”
I said I would.
“Okay then,”she said. “My first concern would be blood pressure.”
“My blood pressure was fine,”I reaffirmed, suddenly struck by a sensation akin to tuning into an episode of your favorite series only to discover it’s a clip show. “What else?”
“That’s it,”she said.
“What about the eye pressure test?”I asked.
“Your eye pressure’s fine.”
No glaucoma but my eyes are tortuous, that’s what this visit to the specialist revealed. In other words, it reconfirmed what my local opthamologist had already confirmed what the opthamologist in Toronto had discovered.
P.S. I followed up with my doctor’s office and was told that they had received the results but the doctor hadn’t asked for a follow-up appointment. This, she told me, usually signified the results came back normal. Or, I thought, they were so bad that he assumed I’d passed away in the interim and what was the point.