Light Up My Life

by swellsbennett

I have been very worried for the last few weeks.

As I may have mentioned in the past, I’m a bit of a hypochondriac — and maybe a drama queen. When I was a child, my parents had to take me to the hospital after a fall. I was certain death was waiting to collect my soul, and proceeded to play out a death scene to rival Melly’s in Gone with the Wind. Needless to say, when a doctor tells me I need to come back for “additional tests,” I immediately assume the worst. I try not to play out death scenes these days, but I’m sure my expression sends the message loud and clear.

Last month, Dan and I went for our eye exams. Everything was fine until the doctor said, “I’m seeing some cupping in your optic nerve. I want you to come back to be tested for glaucoma.”

How my brain translated this: Glaucoma?! Holy shit! I’m 42 years old! I’m going blind at 42! I’m a writer! I own an engraving company! I can’t go blind!

I burst into tears, because this is how I react to bad medical news. The poor doctor felt compelled to comfort me. If she’d had a lollipop, she probably would have given it to me. I pulled myself together long enough to leave the office with an appointment for December 4th. That’s right — the optometrist gave me bad news then sent me home to stew about it.

For the last month, every time I enter a room (particularly since my husband has an obsession with turning off lights) I have been certain I was on the verge of going blind. Rooms seemed too dark and my eyes seemed unreliable. I studied my pupils to see if they were opening wider than they did when I was young and healthy. I practiced saying glaucoma without crying — I even got pretty darned good at it!

Today was the appointment. The nurse led me to a small room where she sat me in front of a machine to test my peripheral vision. I could feel my eyes drying out as I tried to focus and see the random dots of light flashing around the screen in front of me. I swear, I could almost feel the blindness latching onto my corneas! We moved to a second room where the nurse administered another test that involved nearly touching my eyeball. Finally, she moved me to the examination room where I waited patiently for the doctor to deliver the bad news.

But she didn’t. It turns out I wasted all that worrying. Yes, I have risk factors — borderline-high eye pressure and a thinner-than-average cornea (great — the one part of my body that wants to be thin) — but I passed the peripheral-vision test with just one missed flashing light. She told me that, at this time, there is no sign of glaucoma. Halle-frickin’-lujah!

So, at least for the next year, if a room is dark, I’ll just turn on the light.

I'm looking at you!

They (whoever they may be) say that if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should say nothing at all.

This is a lesson that has been lost in our current world, probably because we generally have at least two screens and many miles between us and whomever we seek to harm with our words. Just as a mechanical war removes us from bloodshed, so a war of internet words removes us from the damage we inflict with them. We say things on Facebook and Twitter that we would never say to another person’s face — at least not without expecting to be slapped. I try very hard to only say things I would say to someone I was eye-to-eye with. It’s the least I can do.

But I have collected a few of Shakespeare’s best insults. Try to read them with a sugary-sweet voice:

  • highly fed and lowly taught
  • light of brain
  • mountain of mad flesh
  • not so much brain as ear wax
  • long-tongu’d babbling gossip
  • thou art a boil, a plague sore

Have a great week.