Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Eye Doctor

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth isn't that how the saying goes, or something like it. Well, I gave up my right eye, although I have no idea of who I offended. It was gorged out by a crow.
Yes, as unbelievable as that sounds – a crow. At least that's what I called him, the Eye Doctor, the one who claimed he could fix my rods and cones; correct my astigmatism. He promised by the time he'd finished I would have twenty-twenty vision and you don't know how good that sounded unless nature has also afflicted upon you a similar condition, not one of age, but of inherit-ism.
All that pouring over books, people said, has damaged your eyesight. But I couldn't possibly have lived without my reading, that escapism, and even with one eye, I still pursue that same course, albeit a little slower and with large print books, the size of which is an irritant to my remaining eye. The words shout from the page, scream from the rooftops regardless of the plot, yet I persist for I detest talking books. I need to see, to feel the words, to take them inside me, and it's impossible to do that if there's no pages to turn, no words for my index finger to underline. I dread the day when my other eye also fades; some days I clamp it open with an eyelash curler. At night I squeeze in moisturising drops. Blink, squish, blink, squish in the lubricating gel.
My short-sightedness appeared to be triggered by the application of study. Close text book reading and computer work, but now, when I reflect, I don't believe that was the case. I think it was pre-conditioned. It was going to happen no matter what. Perhaps reading in poor light hastened it; at times so engrossed I wouldn't pause to illuminate a darkening room until the last vestige of daylight had left. But still I feel inherit-ism was the unavoidable culprit. A heavy, myopic trait on my mother's side – all their squints corrected when young with fashionable at the time wire-rimmed or thick spectacles. A gene would flip towards the end of puberty, so that on the cusp of adulthood there came a loss of long sight. With me, it could have been fifty-fifty as my father's side has excellent sight, but no that gene shifted and the fatal blurring of distant objects began until I couldn't read the departure boards at railway stations.
And yes I did indeed, at first, deny it. It wasn't happening. I didn't want to come into my inheritance: the intellectual, studious look, even though in my heart that's what I was. I have always leaned towards the scholarly, so in a sense it was a self-fulfilled prophecy, but I might have adapted better had it occurred when adulthood had been attained. If I'd been short-sighted from birth, I wouldn't have suffered so many difficulties regarding my confused self-worth and image.
And it was these that led me to the Eye Doctor.
A crow of a man. Not a towering, arrogant god, like some GPs, but a hooked-nosed and beady-eyed, bearded man. A patterned neck-tied and creased black-suited man pretending to be something he was not in a Harley Street clinic. I'd seen his advert in The Evening Standard, and the testimonials were encouraging.
During the initial consultation, he was a little eccentric but with private healthcare you expect mavericks and so I went ahead and booked the first procedure for the following week.
Had I known he was charlatan experimenter I would have cancelled...
But by the time I realised, I was already pinned to the operating chair by a blue-gloved assistant while another applied a yellow ointment dyed cotton swab to my right eye, then turned my eyelids inside out and fixed them open with a grim contraption. Thus prepared, the gowned Doctor advanced with two gleaming, (and I presume sterile), teaspoons and proceeded to scoop out my astigmatic eye as if he were merely shelling a hard-boiled egg for his lunch.

Picture Credit: The Eye, M C Escher