Earlier this week, a friend fetched me to drive us in morning rush -hour traffic into the city for my test at the retinologist’s. We quaffed down cups of coffee before setting off on an overcast grey day with lowering skies. Driving on grey concrete roads into neighbourhoods which look as if they were poorly developed black and white photographs of lacklustre tonality makes for an eerie experience. Of course, the overall greyness is punctuated with flashes of red from car brake-lights, but this felt like moving through a black and white video. We chatted and discussed family happenings on this trip.
My friend is a hockey and water-polo mom; she drives her two teenagers, all over the expanse of this largish city, to take them to their competition destinations. She made short work of taking the shortest route to the central medical area of hospitals, large clinics and doctors’ offices. My parking angel accompanied us, so parking was a breeze. We made our way across the street from the parking lot; she had me firmly grasped by the elbow and directed me to avoid curbs and other city walking pit-falls.
We entered a massive concrete building of about 18 floors in height. The elevator, that took us to the4th floor where the retinologist’s office was, had odd hardwood flooring on its walls, which felt slightly disorienting.
The doctor’s office was very large, with a spacious waiting area separated by a divider from the receptionist’s space, also huge, backed by a wall of floor to ceiling files. The receptionist, my friend and I were the only people there. The walls in the waiting room were covered with many original artworks of fabulous coloration. After we checked in, taken off our winter coats, my friend walked around looking at the artwork. She’d say, “Come and look at this!”. So I’d climb up onto chairs on my knees to get closer to the images hung on the wall. While we waited, we made our way around all the pictures, me with my nose an inch or so away form their surface, happily studying them. Imagine, to be enjoying an art gallery at a doctor’s office, particularly an office which serviced people with vision problems- this was a treat on such a grey morning!
After a short wait the technician came and ushered me into a pleasantly darkened room where the OCT and PAM tests were to be administered. She did the usual eye test with the black spoon over either eye, where I did my usual best to minimize my poor vision, but in the end couldn’t fool the technician. She caught me guessing letters and numbers. The tests were non-invasive, except for the drops in the eyes beforehand.
The OCT machine looked like R2-D2 in Star Wars movies, but it just sat there passively waiting for the chin and forehead to be rested in molded receptacles. The scan takes little time, but it is a spectacular experience. A red flashing circle blinks off and on, every time it turns off a brilliant green afterimage circle takes its place. This goes on for several seconds; then a string of yellow pin-points travels in straight lines and builds up a stellate pattern over the blinking red/green. This was amazingly beautiful, and I was actually happy to get both eyes tested in sequence, so that this light-show could continue. The PAM test, also visually curious, held second candle to the marvels of the OCT test.
As we were putting on our coats to leave, my friend and I looked again at a beautifully-made water-colour illustration of musicians, in which the image was accompanied by Hebrew script from the Torah – a fragment of translation underneath expressed the joys of music and vision as God-given gifts. We lingered…. then said our good byes.
Before leaving town to go home ahead of the afternoon rush-hour traffic, we slipped into a Thai reataurant and shared a dish of Nasi Goreng, deliciously spiced. While paying for our meal, I spied a container full of colourful candy suckers by the till, and asked the waiter if I could take three suckers which he graciously permitted. I selected a brilliant red one, it’s complementary green and finally a brilliant yellow one, and stuck them into my pocket.
While my friend and I settled into the car at the parking garage, I pulled out the three colourful suckers and presented them to her, saying, “Look through each of these against the light – these are the three marvellous colours that appeared in my eye test which had me gasping with pleasure”.
On our way home, back to suburbia, the sun broke through the clouds.