I could feel that man's warm breath gently brushing past my right cheek. His exhalation and inhalation were absolutely uniform, his chest rising and falling in a rhythm. The longer his face stayed so close to mine, the higher my uneasiness grew. Not to say about the red light he was shining in my right eye since the past 40 seconds.
Finally he wheeled back on his swivel chair and said, "Hmm, okay the next test now."
I let out a sigh of relief on having my optician off my face and remembered the day it had all begun. It started recently when the letters and numbers on the blackboards of my classes began to blur. I knew I had to get an eye exam but I was delaying until now. After finding the cheapest deal in the city, on which my health insurance gave some discount, I finally had found time to take the eye exam.
All the time I had cursed the healthcare, eye-care and such stuff since it was so costly in US but now when I actually went through the examination of my ENTIRE eye, I was convinced that it was worth the cost. The doctor spend around 45 minutes on me and did a whole lot series of tests which I had never heard of. That's another thing, that this one eye exam has changed a lot in my life.
After a lot of boring and long sessions of guessing my vision defect by showing a hell lot of skewed images, the doctor gave my first shock. He told me that I was suffering from something called "Astigmatism" and till now I have been wearing incorrect glasses. This first shock of being diagnosed with a new disease was subdued when he said that its pretty normal and can be easily corrected by a kind of lenses.
"But when your new glasses with the new subscription come out, you gonna hate me, at least for two days because your vision will be all groggy," the doctor said with a dramatic tone.
I was already beginning to feel that there was something queer about this particular eye doctor and I was sure of it after a few minutes. Because this first shock was nothing compared to the second shock that came and shook me and my life.
After a series of another tests which included dropping stingy and weird liquids in my eyes, he pulled out a large sheet with four technical sketches of a human eye.
"These are the four stages of a human eye. This first one is the normal eye, everybody has it like this. When suffering from a particular disease, the structure begins to change and a person shifts to stage two and then the eye looks like this. The fourth stage, can you see, how distorted that is? That's the final stage of X," he lectured and allowed me some time to grasp and make sense of what he was saying. I also asked some doubts and I made sure I could now answer any question based on those sketches.
Once I had nodded to indicate that I had understood so far and he could now proceed to teach me more, he blurted out the bloody fact,
"And guess what? You're on stage four," he said and watched my face with the most serious look.
"Wh-what? Why? I am suffering from X? But what is this X?" words that left my mouth were staggered and ill-structured.
"X is a disease which slowly leads to complete blindness," he said in a calm tone, just like stating a fact or writing a death sentence.
"B-but it can be cured right?"
"No, X has no cure. But yes, it can be managed," he said with an expressionless face, not allowing me to make any inference from his statements.
I stayed silent for a few seconds and then he filled the silence between us with a smile and some assuring words, "But, but, but, BUT, I said your condition is at stage four it doesn't mean you are diagnosed with X. The good news is your bla bla is quite huge. I mean, its gigantic as compared to normal people. Its very strong. So that bla bla could be the reason why I am getting a number higher than normal. But again it could be X too."
I didn't know whether to feel good or bad. I just stayed silent, my eyes and ears urging to hear more. My heart skipped a few beats and I was breathing fast now. The small room's walls at the clinic were suddenly beginning to crash upon me.
He continued after a pause, "SO, X is very rare at your age of 21. It usually occurs at old age or people having such such diseases. But then it could occur at your age as well, we can't say. Since I don't know your old records and you haven't been ever tested for this before, I can't say whether you have moved from stage 1 to stage 4 over the time - which means you are suffering from X OR you're born with stage 4 and your bla bla large size is giving me higher range numbers."
"S-so what does it mean?"
"It means I will put you under surveillance condition. You will have to get regular eye exams in order to verify whether your number is increasing or not, whether you are indeed moving up the stages or not. If you're not, well then its just because your bla bla is huge and its because of that, so no worries there."
"How often do I need to take a test?"
"Atleast once a year would be adequate. Okay so you're good to go. Anymore questions?" he said and pulled back his chair.
I wanted to ask a whole bunch of questions and have a long discussion with him in which he could assure me that I was all right but then nothing much came to my mind so I stayed blank face.
"Did I confuse you to death with all that jargon and technical terms?" he asked with a mild pity on his lips.
"No, I got it. But you scared me a bit," I said, like making a plea before a judge.
"Well," he hunched up his shoulders in a manner of justifying himself, "I just believe that you should know the truth about your health. You should be in control of your own life."
I exited the clinic, my mind swinging. On my way back, while sitting in the bus, I was looking the greenery and all those pretty sites which I daily see and then thought, "One day, I won't be able to see them?" Fear and worry struck me like it had before but this time the intensity was higher.
Then after a few hours, I remembered all other people in the world and their conditions and their rare problems. And compared to them, I thought, I am nothing. I am not even diagnosed with X yet. I might have it and I will know about that for sure after one year. And even I have it, I can manage it with proper medication. All those people did fight it, right? So I am. I am going to fight it.
Either you can get scared of a situation and hide your face in your pillow and tell n oone about it. OR, you can come out, yell and say, "I am going to fight it."
People like Helen Keller, Lance Armstrong, Stephen Hawking did fight, didn't they? But one thing I have realized today is, its easier to fight off a financial burden and seek success, because you know your financial problems will be taken care of after success and thus you have the right motivation. I am no more in any kind of financial burden, but there were times in my childhood when I lived under a temporary roof that leaked, that's completely another story. But I am saying that its much difficult to fight a medical problem and still do something in your life. Because for a few hours, I had lost complete motivation to do anything in my life. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I wanted to stop running.
But no, I am not going to sit back. I am going to fight it. There will be a post after an year about my results. Either I am clean or am not. Even if that means waiting for one year for one test I can do nothing about and which will decide my fate, I will fight. I am in control of my life.
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