My visits to the eye doctor usually go like this: fill out papers. get yelled at for not throwing out contacts more often. hear the doctor marvel that the frames on my glasses are 11 years old. keep same prescription. Leave.
We were cruising along today on that same track, until the doctor asked “Has anyone ever told you that you have a freckle next to your optic nerve?”
Umm…NO! Although that would be a sweet pickup line.
Apparently in people with Crohn’s pigmentation clumps deep in the eyes can be symptom of something horrid called Gardner’s syndrome. She told me this as she was dilating me to take a closer look. Then she sent me out in the lobby to wait for my pupils to enlarge.
Meanwhile in the lobby…my eyesight is getting blurrier by the minute due to the dilation as I try to read the tiny type on my iPhone regarding Gardner’s syndrome. Words appear and then grow hazy. Words like “extremely rare”, “polyps” and “terminal”. I’m thinking to myself “why in the world did she ever mention this syndrome to me before taking a look at freckle??”
As it turns out, my freckle is flat and not fatal. Each year that has gone by I have lost more and more of my capacity to be surprised. The news that I might have cooties of the optic nerve, while a little nervous-making, seemed like just another thing that could go wrong.
The fact is I’ve had a few good weeks – defending my synthesis, getting tenure, enjoying great weekends with my long-distance love, and I don’t feel the weight of impending (or apparent) doom like I did through the winter. In fact, I recently felt something I hadn’t in a while: pride. But life is still annoying: a leaky drainpipe in the bathroom sink, handymen that only can come by at inconvenient times, a desk full of papers, an upset stomach.
I’m learning the secret that adults know: life is one hassle after another. Some of them are inconsequential and some of them are catastrophic. But at a certain point (say, when mom and dad stop taking care of you), there’s always another freckle waiting to pop up.
EDITED TO ADD: The above photo was taken by my amazingly talented friend J. Justin Bates who understands that shooting headshots is part psychotherapy and part artistry.