Why I don’t go to the doctor, ever.

My name is Laura and I’m legitimately fearful of all physicians. A high strung person by nature, I become especially nervous during doctor visits, and as you’ll learn from reading further, I would rather suffer an illness or injury than have to face a doctor to treat the issue.

If you looked at some of my recent blog posts, you know I was uneasy about going to the optometrist. I haven’t seen an eye doctor since sixth grade, when my vision was perfect. I remember that
optometry appointment being fun and thrilling even though I secretly wanted glasses like my best friend Crystal, who ironically is a first year optometry student at Pacific University’s prestigious program.

The first portion of today’s visit was low key. The nurse sprayed air into my eyes to check my pressure, which came out normal. My vision is slightly worse than it was in 1999, but still impressive. I have 20/20 vision in my left eye and 20/25 in my right eye, which I’d always suspected was weaker. The doctor says my eyes are fine as a pair…for now. Thankfully, working in online news hasn’t destroyed my most valuable and (in my opinon) prettiest assets!

Things were great until I realized I had yet another doctor to see. When she walked into the room, I was surprised at how young she looked. Then I remembered my best friend is just a few years away from being practicing eye doctor. This lady was a petite, cheerful Asian woman who immediately relaxed me, and this is partly why I feel guilty about the events that followed.

She brought me into a room to look at letters from afar. I read them fine until she poured eye drops into my eyes. Literally two seconds after she did that, I began feeling sick. My breathing became more intense, I began to sweat, and my vision blurred. I asked to stop the procedure so I could recover from whatever I was experiencing.

What seemed liked an hour later, I woke up. As it turns out, I’d fainted. As soon as I regained consciousness, I truly believed I’d died and gone to Heaven, as i didn’t know where I was or how I’d gotten there. I had no idea where I was, the only thing I could see were two beautiful women standing over me. I started asking what had happened and if I was alive. It took 10 seconds or so for me to recognize them as my doctors. I have never been so disoriented in my life, but I was so happy to finally acquire awareness of what was going on.

The doctor said I had only been out for 30 seconds, but it seemed like I’d been dreaming for hours. She tried to calm me down by handing me a cup of water, asking about my career, inquiring if I wanted to go to graduate school, and talking about my friends, but I was still a bit too dazed to respond like a composed person.

I managed to tell her that my best buddy was an optometry student, but I couldn’t quite muster the words to describe my own life. I knew what I wanted to say but just couldn’t articulate my thoughts. After a while, I found a way to ask if she had gone to college back east, as I’d noticed a State University of New York degree on the wall. No, she said. She went to Berkeley, and I told her she was lucky to attend such a prestigious institution.

After a few minutes, I picked up my cell phone to call my mom and explain that I was too sick to finish out my appointment. I’d tried, but felt like vomiting. I’d driven to the doctor but was clearly no
longer in shape to get myself home, so I told my mom to come get me. Thankfully, our house is close enough to the doctor’s office so she could walk on over.

As to be expected, my mom was furious and immediately blamed the optometrist.

“What did they do to you??????” she yelled, and I was far too nauseous to endure loud noises.

I explained that I had a normal reaction to the drops and experienced Vasovagal syndrome, which is common for people uncomfortable with others getting near their eyes. I’m not used to that sort of invasive contact, nor did I like the cold water, so my blood pressure dropped.

Though my vision was blurred for a good hour, I managed to call Crystal, who knows all about the Vagovasal reaction. She laughed at me for getting so worked up, as she deals with this sort of thing every day. Her eyes are always dilated for school experiments, so she definitely wouldn’t have this kind of response.

I jokingly told her that I wouldn’t have freaked out had she been my doctor, but she didn’t buy it.

Sadly, I need glasses, as I have astigmatism, but I can’t get a prescription until I complete my eye doctor appointment. Hopefully I won’t faint the next time I go!

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5 thoughts on “Why I don’t go to the doctor, ever.

  1. Awww poor Laura! It sucks that you experienced that. Luckily you didn’t do what I witnessed back when I worked at a practice before I started optometry school. A patient had a vasovagal response to the doctor putting on his contact lenses, and tried to “walk it off” on our hard tile floors. It wasn’t pretty.

  2. You should not have to have your pupils dilated again just for the doctor to perform a refraction and write you a glasses prescription. Frankly, if your vision is 20/20 in one eye and 20/25 in the other, I don’t believe that you need glasses; if you are in your forties or just need something for the computer, you could try over-the-counter readers. I’m not a doctor or anything but with visual acuities like yours, there can’t be much astigmatism.

    1. Hi Joan,
      Thanks for the reassurance! Later on, the doctor called me up and said I actually don’t need glasses, so that was a big relief. I’ll just continue doing eye exercises to keep my vision clear. Reading glasses might help, too. Thanks so much for your help!

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