Blind and Toothless


While typing away on my accursed computer a couple of years ago, all of a sudden I could not see the bottom left of the screen. It was gone. Boom! No black hole. It was simply just not there.

It started to spread. Then, it was replaced by blurring that wound around to the center of my visual field in a sort of spiral with crisscrossing stripes of scintillating grays.

The realization hit me. My retina had clearly detached.

I was going blind!

There are two things that terrify me more than anything else in this world:

Losing my teeth and going blind.

I struggled to maintain composure as I wrapped up the visit with the patient and ran to the phone where I dialed the ophthalmology office down the street. (I send them tons of patients. Surely they will find a way to work me in!) Of course it was 3:45 in the afternoon. Odds were not looking good.

After several holds and line transfers, I was finally told to get my bo-hiney straight on over. By then, my vision was back to normal. I almost said, “Never mind!”

But I didn’t.

I didn’t want this spell to be the warning with the “big one” just waiting to strike the fatal blow to my vision and my livelihood.

My partner agreed to see my last couple of patients.

I sat anxiously in the sub waiting area while my eyes dilated. Try being bored for 45 minutes when you cannot focus on anything smaller than a two by four. Everyone around me was trying to avoid making eye contact with each other, but without the ability to see our smart phones, it was… awkward. There was nothing else to focus on, except the ceiling.

“Well, doc. What we have here is a case of ocular migraine. You are going to be just fine.”

My heart sank. I was a wee bit disappointed, I realized. I wanted it to be real. Real but fixable. An ocular migraine? That seemed like something crazy people complained about.

Wait. Was I crazy?


“How stressed have you been lately?”

I paused, thinking. Stress? I mentally scoffed at the notion of stress. The optho stared at me, waiting.

“No stress.” I smiled sweetly at her.

I sounded convincing because I actually believed it myself.

She shrugged. “Well, it may happen again. Or maybe not.”

On the drive home, with my nifty disposable wraparound sunglasses, I thought about all of this.

First, I know what ocular migraines are. I talk to patients about them. I diagnose them. It struck me how when it is you (or someone close to you) how quickly you loose sense, reason, and perspective. A good reason for the quote from Sir William Osler: “The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient.”

Second, and more importantly, I was stressed out. My body recognized it before I did. In the midst of my denial, it decided to send me a message.

You can’t go on like this!

I might not have permanently lost my vision per se, but I was blind to my stress level.

If you ignore it, it doesn’t exist. Right?

Nope. It is still there.

Moral of the story? Give yourself a break. Not to say that I have. Yet. Maybe someday. Oh. And brush your teeth.


15 thoughts on “Blind and Toothless

  1. When I was a child I had my teeth pulled out with almost no freezing. The dentist beat the crap out me as I screamed holy hell in the chair as my very drunk, and high, mom sat in the waiting room, oblivious. The 70’s eh? Anyway, today my teeth are awesome. My dentist (a nice gentle Asain lady) says I am her dream patient. And I am.


    • Thank GOD for gentle dentists!!! I get sent people “emergently” all of the time who had sky high blood pressure at the dentist’s office and they are told they are going to have a stroke. By the time they get to my office, their blood pressure is just fine. It is as if dentists are oblivious to the fact that they torture people and it stresses everyone out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds positively scary . . . I cannot imagine losing my sight. I unfortunately know all to well the horror of losing teeth, diabetes has robbed me of four already, several more are ready to be taken. I must choose whether to lose them all now or watch them erode slowly, one by one. It sucks.

    I was struck by your honesty in saying a wee bit of you was disappointed, I’ve felt that way before. Strange, isn’t it? I am happy your sight remains whole and hopefully you will find a way to be stress free. When you figure out how, let me know :o)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I get what you meant by the little bit if disappointment…when someone makes a reference to stress in relation to my health, I subconsciously feel like it’s a comment on my management abilities. Pride will be my downfall. My PVC’s will become a run of V-tach and I’ll be saying, “I’m fine” as they place the oxygen mask on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

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