2 July, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

By Havaca Ganguly

I have spent the week in and out of doctors’ offices trying to figure out this eye issue.  It started on Sunday with a bruise-like feeling in my eye and my eye turned all shades of pink and red.  The first eye doctor said I had something that is called iritis. One thing that is odd about going to a new doctor during these times is that I have no idea what the doctor looks like under the mask.  I can only see the eyes but none of the facial expressions. I had a hard time sussing out whether I could trust him because I depend a lot on the face to make these sorts of determinations.  He gave me some drops and said it would be better by Wednesday.  By Wednesday, I could barely see out of the eye and I started to have anxiety attacks about my vision.

Today I went to Hopkins for a second opinion.  Hopkins has their act together.  The doctor I saw last week didn’t even have gloves on and he would touch my eyes and put bright neon yellow drops into my eyes, then touch stuff in his office then come back to my eyes and I never saw him wipe anything down. At Hopkins, everyone working had on a face shield and the doctor who saw me had both an N95 and a regular mask on, under his face shield. He also kept changing his gloves every five minutes and wiping everything around him, including the chairs I was going to sit on, with some sort of bleach cloth. Again, I couldn’t see his full face and had to rely on his eyes for information.

This doctor spent two hours looking at my eyes.  He did so many tests, over and over again. “Do you see straight lines or wavy lines?” he would ask.  “Straight”, I would say. Then he repeat the exact same test and would ask the same question again.  I would say the same answer. Then ten minutes later, he would do the same test. “Straight or wavy?” “Straight.”

He also did the same question and answer routine over and over again about a pain in my tailbone – “are you sure you had an X-ray?” – after I overshared about fracturing it when I was ten while roller skating and then having to sit on a donut shaped pillow for several months. He asked me so many times, that I started to question if my memory was falling away just like my vision? So I said, I was just ten years old and in my mind they X-rayed it but I may actually have forgotten. There he had it.  Well, he said, it could be this genetic condition associated with arthritis that starts in your sacrum.  Definitely I didn’t have pain in my sacrum.  It was definitely in my tailbone at age ten and right now.

He sent me to this giant machine that read my optic nerve and my retina.  He brought me back to his little office and did more tests and used different lenses and different lights. To me, it was amazing, how the human mind relates to vision.  How come I can see the letter tests perfectly fine in some of those lens and lights and nothing but a giant blur in others?  How is that related to my sense of memory? In the end, he said my vision would be fine in a week and not to worry.