I’m Terrible about the Eye Doctor


I hate going to the eye doctor.  I hate it, and so I don’t go.

I should go, especially because I have a vision disorder that makes my eyes very, very tired for most of the day. But I don’t go because I consider these some of the joys of being an adult: choosing when to get my eyes checked and my teeth cleaned.

Every once in a while, Peter decides he has had enough of my tomfoolery with self-care, and he makes appointments for all the eyes and all the teeth.  He prepays for the whole experience so I have zero excuses. Even still, I try to make alternative arrangements so I don’t have to have my eyes dilated.

A veteran of multiple eye surgeries, I have been getting drips and drops in my eyes for more than forty years. Some people adjust to things, and other people just hate them more with every drip and drop.

Tonight my eyes are dilated, and perpetual blurriness makes me exceedingly sad. As if this dependence is how I must live forevermore, asking someone to show me the edges of the steps, to pour my water, and to drive me home from appointments.

I know my therapist would say, “What a great opportunity for you to rest your eyes and your brain.”

But I’m not so good at either one.  Longing to make all of these faculties obey me, I’ve been squinting for hours and listening to Audible until my phone gave up the fight. I’ve enlarged my screen and here I sit, squinting. Don’t take my words, please.

I’ve been studying trauma and how it lives in the body, as research for my next book. And I have learned part of the reason mindfulness and self-awareness are so helpful: When we recognize how we feel at any given moment, we recognize too when we don’t feel that way anymore.

In this awareness, we recognize that nothing feels this way forever. We can tolerate a lot of things for a long time, when we are aware of the constant shifting of everything.

So I keep reminding myself that tomorrow I will be able to see. I remind myself that not everyone can say that, and this is the reason we have eye doctors. I should go to eye doctors for the same reason I should vote: because not everybody gets to.

In conversation with one of the teenagers who flutters her sparkly wings near my boys and my home, she casually told me that her parents ride a tandem bike. Not because it’s cute or romantic or a fun way to get to a picnic, but because her mom doesn’t see.

She didn’t say, “My mom is blind,” or “My mom can’t see.” She said, “My mom doesn’t see.”  And I found it profoundly beautiful that she said it that way.

I discovered tonight that our dog Murphy doesn’t see anymore.  He fooled us for a long time because his sense of smell is so spot on that he can feel his way through the margins and boundaries of his life.  But today I realized he doesn’t see us anymore. That might be the real reason I’m exceedingly sad.  There’s a theme of sadness and eyesight and awareness of it all.  I see it now.

Everything is fleeting, shifting, changing.

Tomorrow I will see. And the doctor says my eyes are just fine.

Mindfulness reminds me to notice how it feels to be just fine.

Tricia Lott Williford

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