Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Worse than the dentist

How could anything be worse than going to the dentist? I mean, no one looks forward to that, do they? Think about it. Dentists are the only medical professionals that start out promising to knock you out so you won't feel a thing. The rest of the medical community wants to "run a few tests" first, but not dentists. Come on in and get the good drugs! So if their selling point is not "it won't hurt", but rather, "you won't feel it" they've got to rank up there as the worst of the physical upkeep options, don't they?
I always thought so until this week. My new eye doctor changed all that. I can't remember the last time I had such an unpleasant experience. Maybe when I was in labor? And at least the labor nurses also offered me drugs! All I got from the eye doctor were tissues to wipe the tears away.
When did eye exams stop being you looking through the big machine of changeable lenses and reading the lowest line you could on the chart? Now you go through a whole array of machines testing for different things before you ever make it back to the examination room. First is the machine with the roving dots. You're supposed to press a button every time you see the white dot blink. Trouble is, it's roving all over the screen. I'm afraid to blink for fear I'll miss the dot, and they'll get a false reading that says I have some terrible eye disease. Of course, if you don't blink, then you eventually start seeing little spots that aren't really there. I finally just fell into a routine of clicking the button, no matter what I saw. I can't help but wonder what the results were on that test.
Then I sat in front of a machine that measured and calculated an estimate of my current prescription. That's pretty cool. Why did I even need the doctor?
Last was the ever-popular-blow-a-puff-of-air-in-your-eye machine. How pleasant is that? I brace myself, but every time I end up jumping and pulling away. I asked the technician and she said she's never had a patient that didn't jump. I think the machine doesn't actually measure anything. Instead they have hidden cameras recording the reactions of people dumb enough to allow someone to deliberate blow air into their eye.
Finally I'm in the examination room with the doctor. She does the usual stuff, has me looking at the chart while telling if I can see better with lens A or B. Then she does that close up thing with the light and here's where it start's getting weird. She saw a scar on one eye from an old injury. This gets her curious and she actually folds my top eyelid up so she can see the inside of it. I'm getting visions of Conspiracy Theory and the scene where Mel Gibson's eyelids are taped open. It wouldn't have been so bad, except she did it three separate times. She then comments that my eyes look irritated (understatement of the year!). I tell her that I just said goodbye to my son, who was headed back to college after Christmas break. I cried a lot that morning. My eyes teared up again as I tried to explain it to the doctor. She looked sympathetic and asked if this was my last child to go off to college. Now I'm insulted. This is my first, thank you very much. How old do you think I am? I find that out a moment later when she informs me that I'm only a year or two away from needing bifocals. My crying is about to come back in full force. Could this visit get any worse?
Turns out, it can. The last thing the doctor did was put dye in my eyes so she could examine them for injuries. Then she had to rinse the dye out so that it wouldn't stain my contacts. She gave me a large wad of tissues to hold next to my eye and told me to tip my head back. Then she actually pinches my top eyelid and pulls it up with one hand, while the other hand squeezes a bottle of saline, directing a powerful force of liquid up under my eyelid. I gasp and choke and flail around until finally she stops. She has to--my eye is squeezed shut. When she can finally pry it open, she does the exact same thing with the lower lid. Then we moved on to the other eye. By the time we finished, I felt like someone had scrubbed out the inside of my eyelids with a wire brush. It's a good thing that place makes glasses in an hour because I wouldn't have been able to put my contacts back in no matter what. Three days later I was still wearing my glasses to give my eyes a break. I think the CIA could use that woman in the interrogation unit.
So I'm done with eye doctors for a while. I can breathe easy and relax. Except for that sore tooth ... Anyone see the first episode of Alias where the guy is pulling Sydney Bristow's teeth out with pliers? I think I'll just suffer a little longer.


  1. where did you go for this torture exam???? Maybe you should ask around for some recommendations next time!!!!!
    I do have a good dentist if you're interested!!!
    I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. Gloria, believe it or not I actually went to Lenscrafters. Now the problem is, the trial contacts don't feel right and I think the prescription is off. Plus, the glasses don't sit right on my face and I need to get them adjusted. But I'm afraid to go back!

  3. You know, in any service industry, "bedside manner" is extremely important. But, I can't help but wonder if the people that work at these places have forgotten the concept.
    Jill, my advice to you: "Just say no" to Lenscrafters!
    Medical Professionals, I have some advice for you too, so listen up! Regardless of the body part you are examining, you would get a bit more repeat business if you made your patients feel as comfortable as possible. How might you accomplish this seemingly impossible feat? It is simple: 1) learn to conduct your examinations with minimal pain, if any, to given patient or 2) if you absolutely must inflict agony, due to either necessity or just a sadistic mindset, at least have the decency to administer plenty of good drugs to help numb it!

  4. Did I mention that I have a nephew who is a lawyer???? Just kidding, but I WOULD NOT let this go until everything is made right!!!Remember what we do best - NAG!!!! Hope to hear good news from you next time.

  5. Wow!! I know this is a little late but I feel like I just read the overview of an Alias episode. Hope all is better now!


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