It was…relatively painless.
I guess I should go into more detail than that, though.
As I mentioned previously, the VA hospital here in Colorado has no facilities for eye care, and the process for getting it has changed in some very confusing ways. This time, I had to go through the Veteran’s Choice system.
When we left off, I had received a call back informing me of the date, time, and rough location of my appointment [no address was given to me, just a really hard-to-understand name conveyed via completely-made-up phonetic alphabet]. I was told that I would receive a letter with all the information I needed.
That letter arrived in an envelope I almost threw away, because it carried no indication that it was associated with the VA. It looked like health insurance spam.
And it’s a good thing I didn’t have to rely on just this letter, because, well….
Before you wonder how the hell I was supposed to decipher that, or if you’re having some sort of strangely selective sudden brain injury that only fucks with names and phone numbers: I did that. I deliberately scrambled the name of the doctor, and the phone number. The important part is the address.
Which is wrong.
The big, glaring error is that we do not have a Hampton Ave. Other states do. If I tried to go to this address [without the city information], it would have me driving to Missouri or something. Or maybe there’s one in Wyoming, or another state that happens to touch borders with us. I do not understand how this happens, but, hell, I had to go through months of fighting with the people who fucked up the spelling of my name just to get the paperwork on my house to match my VA paperwork, so maybe it’s just terrible data entry or something.
I manage to get there, in spite of the botched address. I took the letter with me, because I am not leaving anything to chance. Surprisingly, I do not need it.
Signing in was really very easy. They had everything ready to go, had me clearly recorded, made copies of my ID, and just had me fill out some standard paperwork.
Standard paperwork that included a consent form for dilation. Which I vehemently refused this time.
There was a brief wait, and I was called back for the pre-exam bullshit. There was a machine where they asked me to stare at a balloon–I don’t know what the fuck that did, but it did not puff air into my eyes, so five-fucking-stars right there. I hate that fucking air-puffy machine. I even asked if that’s what it was.
It was not. They have a new method for the glaucoma test now: a strange, handheld thing that they put entirely too close to your eyes, but it does not release the hideous jet of stale, dry air that makes you jump and blink and wonder if you’ve fucked up the test and have to repeat it again and again forever, so that’s improved.
There was also a nasty wand of light that had to be shined into my eyes. I did not enjoy this, but it was probably medically necessary. Or, optometrists are as into torture as dentists. Who fucking knows.
Then she [the…whatever their version of the dental assistant is, I guess?] noticed that I had declined their most cruel torture method, and tried to get me to change my mind, telling me that it was the only way to detect very dire things that could be happening right now.
Seriously, just no. I have enough eye-related anxieties, and I don’t need you trying to feed them. I especially don’t need you putting that horrible shit that burns like you just set my eyes on fire, and leaves me unable to see properly for hours because you’ve basically drugged my pupils and invited the every light source to fuck them for the next five hours, leaving me dazed, blurry, and with a headache that will probably last another two days.
“We also have this other option, but insurance doesn’t cover it, so we’d have to charge you….”
Get back to me when this ‘other option’ is just the standard option. And keep your little bottles of burning locked the fuck up. I see you over there, giggling in anticipation, gleeful at the thought of sending another person staggering out into the bright, cruel world with no pupillary reflex.
I, of course, said none of this. I politely explained that I refused because I did not particularly enjoy the pain that the process inflicted on me, and I declined the added service.
I was then led into an exam room, placed in a chair, and run through a preliminary routine with the big thing that always makes me think of a weird, mechanical owl face.
My eyes were being especially irritable, so that took a while. I had to back off and blink a lot.
Then she left, telling me that the doctor would be in to see me soon. This gave me time to really take in my surroundings.
The place has changed a lot since the last time I had an appointment there. They completely remodeled the interior…except for one little thing: they kept the weird ceiling light panels. Instead of the basic translucent plastic, they’re printed with this blue sky and clouds design, like strange, identical fake skylights.
The doctor himself was fairly remarkable for a number of reasons, the first of which being ‘I swear I specified ‘female.” I guess that preference is only a ‘preference’, and you get what you get. It didn’t really matter in this case.
He was perfectly fine. Listened to me, explained what was going on, and even gave me some little samples of eye drops to help with the dry eyes problem I was having. There was just one rather…odd thing….
He was Pestilence.
I don’t mean that he looked like him, although he may have with a little effort. I mean that…his voice, his cheerful, friendly way of speaking, the cadence…he was Pestilence.
He ran me through the big mechanical owl mask again, with the, ‘one, or two? Three, or four?’ and then the hideous bright light device that I loathe. How the fuck am I supposed to look at your ear, Dr. Not Trashcan Man, when you’re directing the sun through a narrow slit straight into my eye?
That was the end of it, though.
I asked him to write down the prescription for me. He told me that someone out front would do that for me…and, what the hell, I might as well look at glasses I wish I could have.
So I did.
Glasses I wish I could have? Beautifully ideal glasses that fit me and don’t cause a headache by weighing too much, that would be dark when I need them? Six hundred dollars.
I managed to get them to write down the prescription, though, and got out of there with a promise that I would certainly think about those glasses. And I have been. Oh, how I wish I could have them, even though it would take them two fucking weeks to make them, because apparently we’ve lost the technology to make glasses in an hour in some great apocalypse I missed.
Slightly heavier but similarly shaped glasses with specifically designed sunglasses that magnet the fuck onto them, online? Around seventy dollars.
The glasses I’ll get? I don’t know what they’ll be. I’ll have to choose from the few trays the VA provides, and then hope that, when they arrive in another four months, they haven’t completely fucked up the prescription again.
I hope to get this next phase of the process started on Friday. I’m hoping the Glasses Guy will be in his little closet after my EMG.
But that’s Friday. This is Wednesday. This should be Eye Day, but I’ve run out of material for that, and haven’t set up any new ones. So you get this instead.
Wednesday is also Trash Day, as my phone just told me.
And, as Facebook is currently telling all my friends, today is also my birthday. I am going to try to be very done with worrying about this for a few hours, and try to do something else, instead.
Anything else, really.