Herb eye exam column

Look into my eyes ...

There is nothing like a doctor’s waiting room to make you feel good about yourself. There is always somebody older, more bent over or more infirm.

I feel sorry for them and feel a burst of health because of them. I ignore the people who look better and who are using me to get a boost. They are obviously cheaters and don’t count.

Recently, I went to the eye doctor. Eye was wondering whether my vision had deteriorated since I’d been 10 years ago. Eye learned some things during my visit, one was the waiting room at the Bakersfield Eye Institute is a good place to get a shot of self-esteem.

There were some people with walkers, others with eye patches taped to one eye or the other, and there were some people using walkers who also wore eye patches. Eye puffed out my chest. Eye felt like Eye could run a marathon and see all the way to Fresno.

Eye realize this is doing permanent harm to my karma and that one day Eye will roll into the waiting room of a doctor’s office on one of those tennis ball-capped walkers, two eye patches and a cast up to my neck, but we have to grab our victories when we can, temporary as all of them prove to be.

What a nice office. The lighting was perfect. Eye was pleased.

“Please fill out this five-page questionnaire,” said the woman at the desk.

Eye was not pleased. Eye don’t like to fill out five-page questionnaires. Not unless the last two pages require only signatures and the first three pages have questions that require responses od "no" so Eye barely read them.

They asked my date of birth. Twice at the front desk, once in the exam room and then in the room to meet the doctor. After four times, Eye wondered if Eye had really been born on 5/27/54 or perhaps they knew something that Eye didn’t.

Eye was a fraud. Eye should have known better. Eye should have known that it was only a matter of time before it was discovered Eye fudged on my birth certificate like a Cuban pitcher.

What Eye wanted them to say, upon hearing my birthdate was, “No way. You’re way younger than that. I would have guessed 44.”

However, they didn’t say that. What they did was listen and nod, as if to say, “You could have fooled me. My grandmother was your age. At least she was before she died.”

Eye am always interested in how long the techs, nurses and office personnel have worked at a place and whether they enjoy their jobs. When Eye was in the examining room, shortly before reading the lines of letters, Eye asked the young woman how long she had been there.

She didn’t respond. Are you ignoring me or did Eye mumble again? Eye am a mumbler so perhaps you could refer to a doctor who specializes in mumbling.

“Please read the top line,” she said, covering one eye and then the next.

Eye did. Eye kept reading as the letters got smaller and smaller. This was fun. Eye finally found something Eye was good at.

When it was time to see the doctor, Eye was moved to the doctor's room. The doctor only goes into certain rooms and certainly is not going to change his routine for somebody who was starting to doubt when he was born.

The doctor's room had diplomas on the wall. Diplomas with fancy writing. His diplomas were better than mine, and the writing was more ornate.

The doctor walked in the room. This is always a big moment and it wouldn't have seemed out of place if there had been a drum roll and the sound of trumpets.

The doctor was a Shafter boy. David Hair. Eye like people from Shafter. After meeting him, Eye still do.

Eye asked him about the growth under my left eye. Eye didn’t ask him about the other bumps on my face. It’s not like he had all day.

He used the C word. As in cataracts.

“You have the beginning of cataracts,” he said. “You’re OK now, but I’ll be seeing you in the future.”

Eye didn’t have to wait long for my waiting room karma to kick in. It had taken root and was flourishing like rosemary in our backyard.

We said goodbye. We shook hands. Eye like to do that.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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