Wednesday was a trip to the eye doctor for Phil and his driver—me. His anxiety was in full force from the time we exited the car in the parking lot and then re-entered it two hours later. This was his first time to Dr. M. In fact, he had not been to an ophthalmologist since he was a toddler. Phil was born with strabismus and had corrective surgery when he was nine months old so we spent many hours in the waiting room during the first three years of his life.
The visit on Wednesday was a routine eye exam but a new doctor and a new office presented perfect ingredients for anxiety. We entered the waiting room, signed in, and were handed a stack of papers to fill out and sign. When I returned them to the receptionist a few hours later Phil followed me and proceeded to kick me playfully in my posterior. My warning “That was not appropriate!” was greeted with laughter.
“Mr. Tucker” was soon announced. Phil informed me, the nurse, and the waiting room that he was not Mr. Tucker, he was Philip. He stood up and beckoned me to follow. I realized when I sat down in the exam room that my palms were sweaty and my heart rate had increased considerably. The nurse asked Phil to read the smallest line he could. She might as well have been speaking in Russian. She caught on quickly that that approach would not work. She then started showing him single letters in various sizes while repeating over and over “Keep your left eye covered. Don’t peek. Now keep your right eye covered.” When she finished I followed her out of the room and asked if Dr. M. would be able to handle Phil. She assured me he would. I had my doubts.
Next came the person to dilate his eyes. “Philip, open your eyes. Close your mouth.” “Philip, you must close your mouth and open your eyes.” “Philip!” As soon as she was able to get a drop in each eye Phil squeezed his eyes shut and started rubbing them. “Philip, you cannot do that. We’ll have to put more drops in your eyes. Close your mouth. Open your eyes.” Beads of perspiration stood out on her forehead after the third try which she deemed successful.
We were left alone until Dr. M. arrived. Phil examined every instrument, every button while exclaiming “This is big, where is the up/down button, this is for my chin, this is….” and on and on and on he went. Constant motion. Finally in came Dr. M. After they shook hands Phil immediately wanted to know if Dr. M. was married. “Yes.” “Children?” “Yes, in fact, it is my daughter’s birthday today. She is nine.” He had more questions but they waited until after the exam which was quick but thorough. On the way to the car Phil asked where Dr. M. parked his car and where is his house? I had to admit I did not know the answers to all his questions.