Saturday, July 31, 2021

My Floppy Eyelids

By Madeleine Kando

My left eye is irritated. I wanted to make sure it is not a sign that I am slowly turning blind, so I paid an emergency visit to the eye doctor, before I embark on a month long trip to Hawaii.

She was short and masked. She asked for my age, although it said it right there, on my chart. She probably wanted to make sure that my porch lights were still on at my age.

She looked over the notes that her assistant just jotted down before her majesty walked in.

‘You should drink more’ she said. ‘I already drink too much’, I thought. ‘Look at the bags under my eyes’. She meant water of course, that substance I detest with a vengeance. Unless I am in the middle of the desert of course, which is never.

‘I drink a lot of tea, some coffee and orange juice’, I said in a defensive tone. ‘Coffee and tea don’t count’ she said.’


She started to type vigorously, so she wouldn’t have to make eye contact. I am sure, in her profession, limiting eye contact with the hundreds of eye balls that roll into her office every day is essential. Until she is stuck to them like a siamese twin during the exam. Safer to type and talk to the screen.

‘You are dehydrated. Drinking is good for you. Stops wrinkles. 6 cups a day, at least.’

A long telegraph style conversation followed:

‘Do you have pets?’
‘Yes, I have a cat.’
‘Where does he sleep?’
‘I have had my cat for 10 years.’
She repeated curtly:‘Where does he sleep?’
‘She sleeps where she wants’, I said cheekily.
‘Do you wear make-up?’
‘Yes’
‘You shouldn’t come to an exam with make-up on’.
‘Who do you see?'
‘Xcuse me?'
‘Who is your regular eye doctor?'
‘I don’t remember her name’.
She reads on the chart. ‘Dr. Rankin’.
(Inaudibly)‘So why do you ask me?’
‘Why do you take doxycycline?’
‘Never heard of it.’ 
'It says here you take doxycycline.’
‘Does it go by another name?’
‘No’
‘Is it related to tick bites?’
‘Yes.’
‘I only took it once. For a tick bite’.
‘Do you have dry mouth in the morning?’ 
‘Yes’ 
‘That’s because you don’t drink enough.’ 
‘Could it be because of my medication?' 
… silence …
‘It’s important that you drink at least 12 ½ cups a day. Tea doesn’t count.’

She wheels her stool adroitly to that insanely complicated piece of equipment called a phoropter and taps on the chin rest. For some reason, she has decided to switch from speaking to gesturing. The previous eyeballs must have belonged to a midget, so I have to hunch over to follow her command. Her finger points up, I look up. She taps impatiently to the left of the lens, I look left. Her finger points down, I look down.

She opens my eye vigorously, pulls on my eye lid and (gasp) folds it over. She then presses on my eye lids with great force. She makes a shooing gesture, as if I was a fly, meaning I can sit back.

‘You have occular rosacea. Very common with people who don’t drink enough.’ I want to ask her how much she drinks and how many times a day she has to pee, but then she says:

‘You also suffer from floppy eyelids. When you sleep your lids flop and let stuff in that irritates your eyes. You should massage and use warm compress.’

I am speechless. How can they be floppy? Do they flop about like dog ears in the wind? Or is it a misnomer, like so many other medical terms ? Floppy usually means that something is so flexible that it flops about, like a flag in the wind. Should I do eye lid strengthening exercises?

‘And chia.’ She said, without interruption.
‘Chia? Who is that, another doctor?’
‘Chia seeds. In your yoghurt. Unles you have gout, I recommend it.’

She does not give me any clue whether our visit is over other than saying: ‘We have a plan’.

So, with a new syndrome under my arm, I finally leave the office. I am relieved that my symptoms don’t mean I am turning blind.

In Hawaii, I will walk on the gorgeous beaches. I will let the sun and the surf take care of me and my floppy eyelids. And if anyone dares to mention the word ‘floppy’, I will toss them in the waves with my flip-flops.

Still, if anyone out there suffers from floppy eyelid syndrome, please don’t hold it against me that I try to put some humor into something that might end up being more serious than I care to admit. leave comment here