Several months ago my left eye began bugging me. I thought there might be some speck in it that found a comfortable home and I rubbed it and rubbed it.
Days and weeks went by and the irritation I felt, though minor, was becoming tiresome.
A thorough self examination revealed I had a small bump growing on my bottom left eyelid. It was nothing more than a small growth but I came to notice, in addition to the irritation, it was starting to play with my peripheral vision. Naturally, I did a lot of research.
To the best of my understanding, what I had on my eyelid was nothing more than a common eyelid papilloma, an often benign epithelial growth. Still, an appointment with an ophthalmologist was in order and I made one, just to be sure.
Now, I have rules. Lots of them, actually. Two big rules are these: "No sharp or burning objects near the groin" and "the only thing that belongs in your eye is your elbow." I think they're good rules, rules that make sense. I'm sure many of you would agree - pretty good rules.
Additionally, I wear glasses. I have since my mid-twenties. Just for distance. I'm near-sighted. When I drive, especially at night, or go to films or concerts, I wear them. No contacts for me, though - that would be a direct violation of that one rule about things in your eye.
Anyway, knowing this, you'd think going to an eye doctor would make me nervous or anxious. It doesn't. I'm very calm leading up to an appointment and I explain myself very carefully to whoever might be coming near my eyes when there. They simply need to take things slowly. Because I'm twitchy about my eyes. So long as we have an understanding, I can control any ocular anxiety.
Being this was the first appointment with this particular ophthalmologist, routine testing was necessary. Several tests as a matter of fact. Including that intraocular pressure test to determine if you may be at risk of (or have) glaucoma.
Inwardly I cringed a little. I warned the nurse about to give me the IOP test I was "things-in-my-eye" phobic.
Somehow I weathered through it.
"See? That wasn't so bad," she said. "Now, switch eyes so we can do the other one, Mr. Noble."
One eye? I can handle. But repeated with the other eye I knew what was coming.
I knew for certain a razor sharp, eight-inch gleaming steel needle was coming out the portal I was to look into which would go right through my eye and pierce the back of my skull.
I tried to keep my eye open ... really I did. But I kept blinking, closing it, fluttering it in anticipation of that air puff. I probably started sweating, I don't remember. But the nurse administering the test was patient with me. Still, I knew she'd loaded that extra sharp needle; I could read it on her face: she knew I was going to be a problem child and that second eye was going to take forever. Revenge would be hers for me wasting her time with my needless blinking.
Some minutes later (it felt longer), and to my great relief, I realized she hadn't loaded that needle after all. I came out of the test none the worse for wear. Mostly.
I was shuttled down a hall to a private room and waited in an examination chair for the doctor. Meanwhile another nurse took information from me. She asked me if I wore glasses, any eye problem history, asked why I was there, blah blah blah. She had me look at an eye chart, handed me an eye cover to hold over one eye and asked of me the smallest line I was able to read.
"Didn't I explain to you I'm practically blind without my glasses?" I blurted. "I might be able to make out a few of the characters on the first line if you're lucky" I commented, squinting at the line with the largest letters. "Let's see ... 'O' ... uhm ... I think that's a 'V' ... maybe ... that next one is the letter 'B' with a number '3' backed up against it ... and I have no idea what alien language that next character is" I told her. I switched eyes. "Um ... that's one of those highway signs that has the lines indicating 'slippery when wet' ... and for the life of me I can't make out any of the others" I confessed. She had me put my glasses on. I could see everything on the smallest line perfectly and told her so. She finished adding information to my file, excused herself and told me the doctor would be in momentarily.
I sighed and relaxed. The doctor came in a minute later, introduced himself, shook my hand and asked me the reason for my visit. After jawing at him for a few minutes he said "Let's have a look, shall we? Let's see what your right eye looks like first ..."
When he got to my left eye, he looked at it silently and quietly. "Yep ... that's what it is. A simple papilloma. Oh ... that's strange" he commented all of a sudden. I resisted questioning him until after he was finished.
"What's strange?" I asked when he was done.
"Nothing really," he said. "There are just some interesting fronds coming off it is all. Is it bothering you now?"
"Yes ... and it's irritating at times. It's grown larger over the last few months, ever since I first noticed it. It hurts here and there and I see it in my peripheral vision. I thought I better come in and have it checked."
"So ... we're going to schedule it for removal then, yes?"
"Yes. Please tell me what's involved ..."
"It's a simple procedure. We numb your eyelid, similar to when a dentist gives you Novocaine, then we scrape it off. You'll be fine. Outpatient procedure, no downtime. I'll prescribe an ointment. That's it. Pretty simple stuff ..."
"Yeah ... but there will be a scalpel coming at my eye I have to contend with" I told myself silently.
"We can schedule it as soon as next week if you like. The nurse will arrange it at your convenience" he told me as he left.
"Thank you. I'll see you then."
The nurse scheduled me for Tuesday, May 10th at 11:20 a.m.
Doomsday. The day I lose an eye.
"Just have $120.00 available for the procedure when you come back in," the nurse told me.
"Insurance doesn't cover this?"
"No. It's considered cosmetic."
"So ... it's irritating me, I can see it growing, it has the potential to become something dangerous and it could blind my eyesight if I just let it continue doing its thing. That's considered cosmetic?" I asked, probably over animatedly.
"Unfortunately yes," she told me.
"What do I have to do to contest that? Because what I've said doesn't sound 'cosmetic' to me. I humbly request it be billed to my insurance, please. If they reject it, I'll deal with it then."
"I'd be happy to do that for you, Mr. Noble. In order for us to proceed, however, the cost will be in place at the time of the procedure. If you're successful with your argument, your insurance will reimburse you."
So Tuesday morning, the 10th? I'll be paying $120.00 to have my blood pressure raised, to violate one of my most important life rules and to possibly go blind.
.......... Ruprecht The Future One-Eyed ( STOP )