August 22nd, 2007



It's not iritis and it's not glaucoma and it's not any other eye disease. I have healthy eyes, just ageing ones...and DRY ones, to boot. Very probably made worse by the skin treatment medicine I was on for 4 months in the beginning of the year and which I will most likely be starting again tomorrow, which definitely won't help and will, in fact, probably make it worse, at least for a while.

So, I'm relieved to know that my eyes are really okay, but frustrated to know that the blurryness will probably continue for a long time and that there is no "cure" as such. On the worst days, I'm squinting so much I look like I have no eyes at all. :(


When I arrived at the eye clinic just before 4 p.m., there was an elderly lady there before me sitting outside the waiting room, talking to herself. I just smiled and went past her, into the room to take a seat and pick up a magazine. After a minute or so, she followed me in, and proceeded to talk to herself loudly, and then read several papers from her handbag aloud to herself as well. She asked me what time it was and several other rather incoherent questions.

I was a bit surprised at how uncomfortable she made me. I suppose it's because we are so conditioned not to invade other peoples' space, especially when they are strangers and ESPECIALLY in Sweden. She asked me if I'd been there before and when I said no, never, she said that was strange because she knew she had seen me before. She kept repeating phrases to herself aloud and then began re-reading the letters. The second time around I actually heard some of what she reading, enough to realize that the letter stated the day and time of her appointment with the eye doctor—FOR TOMORROW. At 10:00 a.m.

At that point I interrupted her to ask when her appointment was, and she confirmed that it was, indeed, for Thursday at 10. "But it's Wednesday today," I told her. She was confused and looked lost and then asked me again what time it was. "Just after 4," I told her, and she said, as if it made perfect sense, "Well, then, it's nearly Thursday, so that's okay" and settled back into her chair. Just then the nurse came out and called my name so I got up and left the waiting room. After we had gone into the examination room, I told the nurse about the old lady and suggested she go talk to her, since she seemed very out of it and was at the clinic a day early.

The nurse left the room and returned a bit later, shaking her head. We continued with my eye exam. She tested my vision with an eye chart and asked me about the problem and put drops in my eyes to test the pressure. She handed me a little cotton pad to wipe my eyes with which came away bright yellow. "Good lord," I exclaimed, "Did you get any in my eyes or is it all over my face?" She laughed and reassured me and finished the eye test, which involved putting a little tube with a blue light around the end of it RIGHT UP AGAINST MY EYEBALLS and then she sent me to the waiting room with a form to fill out before the doctor called me.

The old lady was still there and another nurse was kneeling by her, obviously exasperated and trying not to show it. She was rifling through the old lady's handbag trying to find a phone number or address. They were right in front of me, so even though I wasn't trying to eavesdrop there was no way to avoid hearing the conversation. She found the woman's name and then exclaimed over the amount of money in the purse and told her she shouldn't be walking around with so much cash. She pulled out a passport and some other items and all the time she was trying to find out how the old woman had come to the clinic: by bus? by taxi? did she have any children that they could call? Anyone that could come help her? At this the old woman looked up and said in a shaky voice, "I thought you were helping me." Finally, the nurse managed to get a phone number and went off to call the person and right then the doctor came out to fetch me.

She made me uncomfortable and sad and worried, this woman I had never seen before, didn't know, and would likely never see again. She was all my worst fears brought to life: my mortality, the creeping years, the terrifying thought of not having my senses and my MIND at my command. When I came out from the doctor's exam, she was gone, so I hope that the nurses found out how to get her home. It was the end of the business day, so I'm sure they had some investment in making sure she was helped out as quickly as possible.

The doctor put some more pink drops in my eyes and shone blindingly bright lights into them both at close range. He gave me a lot of good advice and told me what kind of eye drops and eye gels to get at the pharmacy, and that a humidifier in the office might help. He did not, however, tell me to wipe my eyes before I left and I walked out of the clinic into the middle of Malmö Festival to get to my car in the parking garage and then drive home...where my brother and children asked me why I had orange rings around both my eyes. *sigh*

I may have a long way to go before dementia or senility sets in, but looking like a fool apparently has no age limits.