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Their Attitude Is Nothing But A Puff Of Air

, | Healthy | January 10, 2018

(This is back when the “puff of air” type of glaucoma test was still common. I am 13 or so at this point and have a very strong blink reflex, as well as anxiety that makes me very uncomfortable in medical offices, meaning I have a bad startle reflex, as well. My dad has warned me that the glaucoma test is unpleasant, so I make a request of the nurse doing the test.)

Me: “Can you please count down before you shoot the air? I’ll jump really badly otherwise.”

Nurse: *dismissively* “Uh huh, got it.”

(I’m shaking like crazy when I put my eye up to the machine but trust that the nurse will honor my request. I hear her making some adjustments, and then suddenly she shoots me with the air and I nearly fall out of my chair.)

Me: *startled and close to tears* “You said you’d count.”

Nurse: “I can’t; you’d move away if you knew when it was coming. Oh, come on, you jumped so fast my results got messed up, so we’ll have to redo that eye.”

(She has to do the test three times on one eye and two on the other because I keep jumping so badly. By the time she finishes, I am a wreck and terrified of coming back the next year. Fortunately, shortly after that they raise the minimum age for the test to 18, but when I reach 19 and have an appointment at a new practice I’m still petrified at the thought of the test.)

Me: *to the nurse* “Is there any way I can opt out of the glaucoma test? I don’t have a family history of it and I’m not old enough to be at risk yet.” *I explain my bad experience from years earlier*

New Nurse: “Oh, don’t worry, we actually don’t use that version of the test here. It’s not as accurate, anyway.”

(The new version involves numbing drops and having the eye touched with a small instrument, and I didn’t feel a thing. The new nurse said the other woman had no reason not to count down for me.)

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