If you’re the type to quit reading after the first chunk of words, make sure you at least digest this morsel:
TL;DR – Your body speaks. Listen!
There you go. You can bugger off now and concentrate for seven seconds on something else.
For everyone else. Here goes.
Now, I’ve always been something of a computer whisperer. Between work and leisure, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time engaging in a riveting staring contest with a screen. Some might argue that my dedication to the digital world borders on the obsessive.
Then, in the waning months of 2019, I began to notice a shift. It wasn’t earth-shattering, just a whisper of a change – my screen wasn’t as legible as it used to be. I remember mentally bookmarking a trip to the eye doc, maybe Specs Savers or the like, to update my vision artillery. The prospect of throwing some dosh at a new pair of designer frames with all the bells and whistles didn’t faze me. It was my own laziness that played the villain, halting me from actually scheduling the check-up.
It wasn’t until March 2020, a solid five months post this subtle screen-reading shakeup, that I finally mustered up the motivation to visit my friendly neighbourhood optician. The visit kicked off on a high note. You know the drill: a warm greeting swiftly followed by an air puff ambush on your unsuspecting eyeball. Startles me every single time. Then it’s off to machine number two to zone out on a hot air balloon wavering between crystal clear and fuzzy.
These days, Specsavers has upped their game by offering a technicolour snapshot of the rear view of your eye. And let’s be honest, for an extra tenner, who wouldn’t want a visual souvenir from their optical adventure?
You can enjoy mine, taken in 2018, below.
Next up, my rendezvous with the optician. An incredibly young, stunning Asian lady who, with an inviting smile, guided my chin onto another optical contraption that could easily double as a medieval torture device. With precision, she wielded a luminary weapon that would give the sun a run for its money, peering into its viewfinder like she was discovering a new galaxy.
“Look up,” she commanded.
“Look down.” With utmost dedication, I tried to aim my eyes as low as they’d go.
“Look left,” followed by “Look up and left.” It always feels like some sort of test of multitasking. Can you juggle two optical commands at once?
By the time we traverse to ‘looking down and right’, I’m not even sure if my eyes are actually moving or if it’s just a vivid hallucination.
She takes what feels like an eternity, staring into my soul – or rather, my eyes, via her device. This isn’t some cheesy romance film stare, mind you. It’s all business, with a spotlight to rival a supernova illuminating my brain. At last, she disengages her intense gaze, powering down the mini sun. I lean back, sighing in relief, though the ghost of the inspection lamp lingers on my retinas like a stubborn party guest.
She mulled things over for a moment.
Then she laid it out for me – the less-than-stellar vision in my left eye was the handy work of a detached retina.
Detached retina? Isn’t that the parting gift boxers get after one too many friendly meetings with a fist? Oh, and then there’s John Strapp, the chap who willingly signed up for a whopping 46G deceleration joyride, strapped to a rocket sled and blasted off at sonic speed into a giant pool. Spoiler alert, he ended up with two detached retinas and a medley of concussions, broken wrists, cuts, and bruises.
But surely, detached retinas can’t be that bad, right? All you need to do is stick them back on…right?
“I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news,” she begins.
“There’s something nasty in your eye. That’s what’s detached your retina.” I wrack my brain, trying to fathom what sort of disagreeable item she’s hinting at. An oversized sleepy man, maybe? An especially wayward eyelash?
Nope, it’s medical-grade nasty she’s alluding to. The euphemism doctors use when they’re dancing around the harsher truth.
“I’m truly sorry to have to be the bearer of such news,” she says, her voice soft and steady. “I’m going to refer you to the hospital so they can take a more thorough look.”
Up until that moment, I wasn’t sure how I’d respond to the infamous ‘bad news’ monologue. Was I expected to dissolve into tears, swoon dramatically, maybe even faint?
I did none of the above. My response was a simple, “Oh, okay.”
There’s a well-known saying. If everyone around you is losing their heads, and you’re the only one keeping your cool, chances are you don’t quite grasp the gravity of the situation.
Looking back, I can confidently say I didn’t fully understand my predicament. I mean, I got what she was saying, but I didn’t even begin to grasp how radically my life was about to pivot.
She excused herself from the room, only to return with another lady in tow a few moments later. Maybe not quite the looker her predecessor was, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
“I’d like my colleague to take a peek into your eye, if that’s alright. She’s unlikely to have come across something like this before.”
So, I got to be the star of another round of ‘stare at the sun, but with your eyes’ before she offered her thanks for being her optical lab rat and sauntered off.
I leaned back once again, squinting through the residual light show in my brain to try and focus on the original optician. It felt like the right moment to wrap up our little tête-à-tête. You know, that point where you start liberally sprinkling in the “OK, thanks” and “Right” with more enthusiasm than necessary.
Her closing remarks should’ve served as a big, flashing neon sign about the severity of the situation.
“I tried to arrange for you to see a specialist this afternoon, but it seems tomorrow is the earliest they can accommodate you.”