I'm sure most people reading this have heard the phrase "cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye". Hold that thought, I'll be back.
A couple months ago I started experiencing blurriness of vision in my left eye, and at first wrote it off to needing a new prescription for my eyeglasses. One night while watching TV in bed, though, my wife shifted and for a moment, all I could see the TV with was my left eye, and I noticed that the words crawling across the bottom of the screen were "bent" and blurred to the point of not being legible. I mentioned it to my wife, an RN, and she immediately became concerned about a possible detached retina, and told me I was going to be calling the VA for an appointment the next day. Considering how busy the VA is these days, I figured a routine eye appointment would be months away, so I called and was surprised and somewhat perplexed when they called back a few minutes later and asked if I could be there in a few hours.
After an exam by the optometrist in which a detached retina was ruled out, they decided that I needed to be seen at a larger VA facility by a specialist in a town a few hundred miles from here. Now mind you, my wife has always been aware of my aversion to needles, although I refer to it as an allergy -- psychological, maybe, but nonetheless an allergy, brought on by having witnessed a buddy in boot camp many, many years ago who, while getting shots in one of the seemingly daily shot lines, flinched while getting shots in both arms at once with the pneumatic needles. After watching him screaming in pain with blood everywhere, the techs looked at me and said "next"...yeah, right. So I told my wife that my worst nightmare was not just shots, but specific shots. Remember the old horror movies in which the guy is strapped to a chair and theres a machine with a needle slowly advancing for his (you guessed it) eye, then the camera cuts away and we hear the guys screams? Thats my worst nightmare.
So a couple months later and I'm sitting in the VA Eye Clinic at the larger regional facility, and I mention this worst case scenario to the retinal specialist, and luckily she starts talking laser treatments as alternatives. So we're taking closeup pictures of my eyes and after being nearly blinded by the barrage of flashes, she comes back and says that I've got blood vessels in the back of my eye that have bled and that are pushing on my retina, distorting my vision. Then she says that this should be treatable with a series of injections...in the eye...and when I ask if their planning on knocking me out for these injections, she responds with "well, nooo".
So after coaxing me down off the rooftop, they take me back to a room, at which point they say that they first need to numb me, so I'm thinking an injection in my head and I brace for a needle, when they come out with the wooden Q-tips that they proceed to administer under my eyelid. At this point, my wife makes a comment about needing to grab her camera because I look funny with sticks sticking out of my face, and my response is "I know where you live" or something to that effect. Then they take this clamp and clamp my eyelid open so I can't blink. It's at this point that I'm asking where the leather restraints are, because I'm feeling the need to see the city skyline from the rooftop again, and they say they don't have any. Then comes the opthamologist with this huge needle that must have weighed a ton and he says that it would be better if I looked the other way. Then he says I "might feel a small sting" -- yeah, right, small sting like getting shot is more like it -- then he says "you might feel a little pressure" at which time it feels like my eye is going to pop. It's at this point that I realize that the one question that I didn't ask this guy was "did the other people he did this to live"?
So, I get through this and that's when he says that this course of treatment usually takes 3 treatments at a minimum, sometimes more, and that I need to make an appointment for 5 weeks. After I finish laughing, I realize he's serious. After a good cry on the rooftop and getting coaxed down yet again, I make the appointment and we're off to visit high school friends to happen to live in the city, me with an eye patch and a tremor that I didn't have earlier that day, and my wife with pictures of me with sticks in my eye, and an old saying comes to mind.
An old saying that I, for one, will never be using again.