Waiting Room Blues

My mother waits longer than she had anticipated for me to walk back thru the door I entered half an hour ago. Whenever she’s left in the waiting room, nothing good comes from it.

The first time, I lost three wrong teeth. I was twelve. “You’re old enough to go back by yourself,” she told me. When I was in the chair, the dentist told me they were taking out my expander, something I wasn’t aware of. But I was too young to be my only advocate. I tried to speak up but I was told I was incorrect. I didn’t question it and assumed everyone in the room was on my side.

This time, I learned yet another thing is wrong with my eyes. I’m twenty-five. When the eye doctor, whom I had never met before, came in to talk to me and do more testing, I felt like an adult since my mom didn’t come back with me like she always does, which felt kind of strange.

I like a second pair of ears when it comes to doctor situations. Casual check ups at dermatologists and dentists, I can do on my own. But when it comes to appointments where some part of my body is being looked at more seriously, such as lungs, eyes, or thyroid, I prefer to have someone else in the room to hear what the doctor is saying, someone who has my best interest at heart.

But there I was, sitting in an examination room, taking tests and speaking with new doctors and nurses, being my own advocate. While waiting in-between tests, without a phone or book (I left them with my mom), I reflect on what she said when I left. “You can do this on your own,” she told me. This surprised me. I had presumed she would come back with me like she always does. Later, I would learn that she had assumed I would be back out after testing, ten minutes tops.

I have been to enough of these doctors in the last couple of months to know that I get placed in an exam room after testing. I guess I am old enough to do this on my own. Why wouldn’t I be? I was able to communicate just fine. It just feels weird not to have my mom back here. It feels even weirder with nothing to do to pass the time. I stare at the screen in the mirror that I can’t read. Letters appear fuzzy. My eyes hate me.

The nurse takes me to another room for additional imaging and I begin to plot a plan to get my water bottle and maybe get my mom back here with me. As the nurse is getting the test set up, I ask if when we’re finished, I can go and get my water from my mom. She says that’s perfectly fine and I stare at a blinding light four times because the first two times didn’t get a good look at my eyes.

When I go and grab my water bottle, my mom asks me what’s going on, I’ve been gone for thirty minute. I say I’ve been having tests done and motion her to come with me. I’m surprised she’s been wondering where I’ve been. Though, whatever the miscommunication was quickly gets pushed aside as I introduce my mom to the eye doctor and we’re told I have Keratoconus. As soon as we’re told why this is, the possible treatments, and the process of monitoring the disease, we’re sent on our way.

“Why does something bad always happen when you go back by yourself?” My mom jokes with me as we leave. I can’t help but laugh myself. It’s ironic how these things happen when my mom sends me off own my own. And it’s surreal to be told yet another thing is wrong with my eyes. To be honest, I’m still processing all of it.

A Poem About Nothing

Spring has arrived along with the remnants of winter.
Snow one day, seventy degrees the next.
You never know what you're going to get.
The grass is greener as bees fly
and house cats beg to come back inside.
Days are longer, thoughts are shorter.
Everything looks different upon reflection.
Awareness changes thoughts and perspective,
for once I can look at my interactions without judgment.
The keys on a new keyboard are the best present I could ask for.
Smooth and shiny while working together
without pause or hesitation of a key falling off.
My dry eyes make things coming closer appear
like the wizards from Harry Potter, out of focus
and then all of a sudden clear as crystal.

Power

Poetry that flows like water so natural 
as though it was always meant to be.

I wrote this when listening
to a poet release a poem into the universe.

They were speaking with ease and grace
yet the power of their words spoke 

high volumes to those of us who listened.
Their poem held truths about life

that allowed the soul to breathe.
Not allowing fear to shatter

your future or prevent you from
revealing the depths of your mind

to those who are willing to listen.
Failure is the part of understanding

what you're capable of accomplishing.
Motivation comes from the most

unlikely places and unexpected situations.
Riddles reveal secrets without

saying anything in particular.
The power of poetry lingered

in the newly spring air
as the sky faded into night.


Hello Stranger

I wake up in the morning and do not feel like myself.
My body aches in unfamiliar ways.
The joints in my hands crack,
my right thumb somehow feels unnerved.
The muscles in my back and neck haven’t
been the same since experiencing multiple panic attacks.

I look in the mirror and do not recognize myself. 
My cheeks are puffy, resembling a chipmunk,
reminding me of when I had my jaw surgery.
My eyes are strange, for my top lids are pulled back,
giving me an unwanted stare I don’t realize I have.
The puffy pockets underneath my eyes indicate
swelling that somewhat subsides by the time I say goodnight.

I look out onto the day and everything has changed.
My vision has been on the decline 
for the last two months and has suddenly
taken a nose dive into the great unknown.
I can’t see much beyond twelve feet,
it’s like looking into a fish bowl,
everything is fuzzy or blurry or double. 

I see double if I look up and tilt my chin down.
My reality shifts into two, pulling apart from one
another like something is breaking from being 
overstretched, people often look like their souls
are leaping out of their bodies like fading ghosts.
This has been occurring since October, it seems like
a lifetime ago and yet it’s still jarring every time
I watch something transform into perspectives
no one else can see. People often have four
eyes, which is always the most alarming.

I haven’t felt like myself in a long while. 
This temporary normal that’s constantly shifting
will never feel normal. I woke one morning
and everything had changed without a warning.
I’m still process everything that has happened,
it’s overwhelming and terrifying to have no
control over what is going on with your own body.

I just want to see again. More than anything,
I want to have my vision back. 
I want to be able to see things far away
without fuzziness or double preventing me
from appreciating the beauty around me.
I want to walk around without feeling
my depth perception being off.
I want to be less sensitive to bright lights.
I want to look up with my eyes 
instead of craning my poor neck. 
I want to not feel my eyes focusing.
I want to no longer feel eye strain.
I want to no longer feel like my eyes are buzzing.

I didn’t realize how much I took my eyes
for granted until things unexpectedly shifted.
Though my viewpoint tends to focus on
the negative since they’re more overwhelming,
there are a few shining spots in all this chaos.
My eyes are not budging out of their sockets.
Though my eyes are sitting in different places,
it can go unnoticed if you don’t know it.
They may look a little different and certainly I can tell,
it’s not my biggest problem by any means.

I have a prism on one of my lens that corrects
the double vision when I look forward.
I don’t know what I would do without it. 
The support I have from my family is unconditional,
they continue to help me through this process
as we figure out the best avenue to take 
to relieve the discomfort so I can move forward.
 

Quiet Vignettes from Yesterday

I woke up thinking the time on my phone had automatically switched forward. It had not. I spent the first hour or two of my day thinking it was a different time. Fortunately, I realized my phone’s problem when I looked at the time on my computer. Unfortunately, the medication I had meant to take earlier was taken later than expected. My body’s clock was off too, it’s okay.

Lesson learned: you can’t always trust technology has everything figured out before you. Thank god we still have some control on what happens on our small devices, even when it completely messes up your perception of the day for a good five minutes or so.

I laid in my bed for a good forty-five minutes, allowing my eyes to rest. My eyes were screaming at me in silence for pushing them to look up their own without craning my neck up to see a screen that was about twenty feet away from me. Swollen muscles were pulled in directions they didn’t want to go. A fan was blowing air and my phone was blasting the sound of rain in springtime. I was focused on my breathing, hands on my belly as I felt the air drift in and out of my lungs. My eyes eventually calmed, enjoying a moment without needing to stare at anything or completely drift off to sleep. I couldn’t remember the last time I was this still for this long.

I was reading a book I could not put down. I told myself I would read one more chapter three chapters and thirty pages ago. I hadn’t been that into a book in quite some time. I was reminded of why I love telling stories. Those moments where I’m transported into someone’s mind have always been my favorite. The fan was still blowing air.

Emotion washed over me like a wave I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t articulate words correctly because I had a difficult time trying to comprehend this unexpected feeling. It’s like I ran into a wall without looking and now I’m conflicted within myself. It’s difficult to feel something and have no idea how to articulate it. Tears fell from my eyes. These tears were more intense than I’m used to, so I hunched over and cried more. No one understood what was happening, neither did I exactly.

My eyes were screaming at me in silence for crying. So I cried more because pain has no limits when I’ve already unlocked the box of tears. My eyes felt heavy like they’re experiencing dual migraines. I didn’t know this feeling was possible. Maybe it’s not, and I was just overthinking things as I often tend to do.

I had been waiting all day to eat this cookie dough ice cream, and after taking my fifth and final pill of the day, I was slurping it down while finishing a New Yorker article I had slowly been reading for the last couple of days. The springtime rain blasted from my phone once again as I tried to comprehend the words on the page as best I could. Names often bleed together when so many are mentioned in the course of a single section. It’s crazy to read about what people choose to overlook and how things could have been different if someone was brave enough to speak up.

I was reading a chapter of another book before falling asleep. The more I looked at the lines, the words began to float off the page, detaching from the original text to become two. My eyes were done for the day, signaling through a pretty frightful message that I had gone numb to, that whatever was on the page wasn’t worth it. I took off my glasses and turned off the light. I snuggled into my comforter as a horn from a train travels across the night air into my ears as I gave my eyes what they wanted: rest.

A Response

As kids, we are taught that being different is a negative. We try our best to fit in with our peers. Sticking out can cause unwanted attention we try to avoid. In the last couple of years, our society has become more accepting. We’re nowhere near an inclusive society but over these last couple of years, steps have been made to become more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. There’s still a lot of hate towards people who are deemed as different but there’s also been an overwhelming amount of love too.

The United Methodist Church I’ve attended over the last thirteen years has always been welcoming to people from all walks of life. Regardless of where you’re from or who you love, you’re welcome. For me, my faith journey has evolved over the years and while I haven’t believed in God in the traditional sense in quite a few years, I like the messages my pastors’ share. How it’s okay to question things about your own beliefs. Everyone is on a different path and no one is right or wrong. You don’t have to have it all figured out or believe one thing to attend a service. For me, my church is a place I can disconnect from society to make sense of current events and the thoughts swirling around in my head.

I’m saddened by the events that took place that caused headlines to read that United Methodist denomination isn’t inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community. There should not be a disconnect between us and them and making that stance clear as a denomination is damaging. Thankfully, I’ve always felt loved and welcomed at my church when I was questioning things in my life and parts of myself that make me different. And after yesterday’s service, I still feel that love from my church regardless of what the global denomination wants to say.

Simple Observations

Two people share a connection 
when their eyes meet.
Everyone who is watching
wonder what could be going on.
Is this fate or planned?
Are what we seeing an illusion
or a true moment?
What is authentic
and what is for the cameras?
People who don't understand acting
can't comprehend what they're seeing
as anything less than true love.
Coincidences are the universe
trying to tell humans the truth
through simple observations.
Keep your eyes open.