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I do have  some eye problems, so whatever I said to my MD, had him referring me to a retina specialist and my first ever retina exam, and in the parlance of medicine’s bedside manner, this exam made that cliché, “this may be a little uncomfortable,” sound like the scream right after the anvil falls on your big toe.  

But I didn’t  know that at the time – so come along with me, as Perry Como used to say, I’m on my way to the see stars.

I arrived, signed in, filled out all the new and repetitive forms, brought them back to the front desk, found a seat, read, took a leak, found an unfinished magazine crossword and almost an hour later was called into an exam room. 

Now, I’ve learned  over the years, that getting into an exam room, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be seeing the doctor anytime soon; I brought People with me to read about who’s being unfaithful to whom.  

A little while later, an assistant came in and started checking the history I’d given, she asked and I answered, then before I knew it, she had a tiny bottle of eye drops in her hand and, approaching me, said calmly and rapidly, “Lean back please, look at the ceiling, this may be a little uncomfortable.”  Translation – an anvil is about to fall.

I complied  before I could think and before I could catch my breath, drops were in each eye and she’s handing me a tissue.  Whew – fast and stinging like hell.  I’m not finished wiping away the smearing mascara, when she’s picking up my purse and People and escorting me to another room, directly opposite from this one. 

In the new room, the assistant doesn’t turn on the light, tells me not to read, just to sit back, relax, and let the drops numb my eyes.  Who am I to argue – duh – only the patient.

Anyway, that’s what I do until I hear ooh, ouch, aaahhhh, ooh, ow, ooh, OW !  My numb eyes snap open and I’m nearly out of the exam chair, when I realize it’s coming from the room I was in, and the door is closed.  Crap – what’s happening in there? 

It gets quiet, I try to settle down, and a few minutes later, a woman, the assistant, and a doctor come out, and walk up the hall. They look fine and a few minutes later, the assistant returns alone, and goes about cleaning up: spraying and wiping.  I watch her by just turning my head to the left. 

Approaching me now, I read, “Val” and Val asks that I follow her back into that first room, “have seat, lean back please, look at the ceiling, this may be a little uncomfortable” Jeez – another freakin’ anvil is falling.  These drops must numb your brain too.

I’m still blinking  and dabbing, when Val leaves and the doctor arrives.  We chit-chit a few minutes, review my history again, and finally the exam begins.   

For a while, it’s all the same ‘ol – same ‘ol, I’ve had these procedures before, no biggie.  Then the water boarding begins.  

With my eyes numb  and dilated now, the doc holds up what looks like a magnifying glass without a handle in front of my right eye, the one I complained about, when suddenly, there is an incredibly bright light piercing through the glass going directly into my eyeball.  My eye starts to water, I can only see the fires of hell,  and I’m not sure, but I just may be a little uncomfortable.

Keeping my eye open  is a major effort – an extraordinary one: until the ophthalmologist suddenly turned into one of those multi-armed middle-eastern gods – as my eyelids are being pried apart, forced open, and the light, maybe stronger, brighter, maybe a laser pin-point, is exploding my eyeball.  I was now VERY uncomfortable.

And sunovabitch– it’s happening to my left eye an instant later.  How many freakin’ arms does this freakin’ guy have?

This intense  light-in-the-eye business, probably took all of 30 seconds, if that.  I caught my breath, the doc said I was doing well, and now a long swab appears in his hand.  He’s putting the cotton end of the swab close to the bridge of my nose, laying the length of the wooden stick section, on top of my right eyelid.


Suddenly, without warning, the magnified light reappears and seemingly simultaneously, with those extra hands, he’s pressing that stick down on my top lid with the weight of an anvil and I’m positive that my eyeball is going to pop like a zit, right out through the pupil !  

I think  the pain is intense but the fear factor is worse.  A panic of what-the-hell-is-this flashes through my mind – and then – it’s over.  My eye is where it’s supposed to be, I can see out if it, it doesn’t hurt, and he’s jokingly telling me how everybody hates that part of the exam – No shit, Sherlock!

My irritated reply  is that this is the 21st century and there should be some other freakin’ procedure than using a stick to check for retina damage. 

He says  something about scleral depression, putting pressure on the white part of your eye, looking for holes or whatever.   “I suppose that if my eyeball did pop or leak, by squashing it, it would alert you to a problem,” I ask.

He says yes and I want to see you in a month.  My numbed and dilated brain says, “Sure.” 

Go freakin’ figure.