On our first anniversary, Hydroxychloroquine took me to the ophthalmologist. We arrived at a small quaint building, painted white, the outside decorated with bright pink and orange flowers. Cherry blossoms lined the street with their crimson veils. Tiny petals speckled the sidewalks, leading us to our first analysis of our life together.
I sat in a cozy waiting room surrounded by turquoise walls dotted with pictures of the sea. A young woman in a flower print dress and silver heels emerged from the corridor and called my name. She led me inside a tiny room jammed with computers and fancy equipment. She introduced herself and explained she would be doing the physical exam. She asked me to remove my glasses. She produced a tiny bottle, pulled back my eyelids and dribbled some fluid into my eyes; she took a second bottle and repeated the procedure, explaining that she was freezing my eyeball and dilating my eyes. Blinking felt strange, as if my eyeballs had grown too large for my eye socket; objects close up appeared fuzzy. I cringed as she brought a small sharp object towards me and started poking the outside of my eye; she explained she was testing my ocular pressure. She led me through a variety of exercises which included reading letters on the wall, staring at a picture of a hot air balloon as it faded in and out of focus, and watching green lights dance on a screen in my peripheral vision. I caught my reflection in the mirror on the wall. My pupils had swallowed up my delicate blue iris – dark alien eyes stared back at me.
Once the tests were complete, I was sent to talk with the specialist. We discussed my medications, how I was coping with the old lady and if I had any issues with my eyes. I told her I thought everything seemed fine. She shone a bright light into my huge pupils and I was suddenly aware of what a deer faces when trapped in the glare of a car’s headlights. She had me look into another machine and took a picture of my eyes. At the end of the appointment, she verified that Hydroxychloroquine and I were getting along just fine. Recent medical images of my hands confirmed that he was good for me. Before stepping outside, I removed a pair of sunglasses from my bag to hide my Martian eyes and protect them from the glare of daylight. Three hours later, I saw the first hint of blue cresting on the horizon of my large dark pupil.
Since that first time, Hydroxychloroquine and I have returned to the ophthalmologist every six months – to date, he is still fighting against the damaging appetite of the old lady in my bones.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.