The quibbling patient

by Emily Dische-Becker

I went to the ER this evening because of a pain in my left eye. The eye doctor on duty, a young bespectacled fellow with an extravagant quiff of blonde hair, wanted to test my vision by making me read a series of ascending odd and even numbers.

He pointed to the sign across the room and instructed me to cover one eye and read the top row, then the bottom. “What does the top row say?” he asked with contrived earnestness. I told him this wouldn’t work as a test, because I had already seen the numbers. “It’s not a test,” he emphasized, adjusting his spectacles. “I trust you.” – “But I don’t trust myself,” I explained.

This soured the rest of our interaction.

When he handed me my prescription and told me to go for a check up the following week, with my “regular eye doctor,” I replied that I didn’t have one. He interpreted this as disrespect for his craft, rather than for what it was: misplaced immodesty at my hitherto perfect vision.

In the car ride back home, I told Youssef* that the doctor hadn’t liked me. “Why?” he asked. “Because I said I didn’t trust myself, and he probably thought I was being snide. Maybe I was. He was younger than me. That’s only recently been happening.

Younger – but I still have better vision. I don’t need glasses yet,” I said squinting out the window through my remaining good eye.

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