Uninsured Appointment & Uninsured Appointment 2

Bryson Newhart

Uninsured Appointment

Thom’s cousin, a large blue-faced man with a clubbed foot, worked for a medical corporation whose office building was constructed to resemble the cube at Astor Place. Like La Alamo the building spun on its corner. It was called The Oculogyric and was surrounded by paved space like the oceans surrounding South America. Its parking lot rose and fell in waves, making it difficult to park. The building spun relentlessly. But let’s talk about Thom if I can ask for that. Your eyes are almost dilated, good. Thom had a brother and I’m going to ask you to care about this. Perhaps another nurse can find the veins in your hand? If Thom and the brother took walks when they needed to clear the cobwebs, this might call to mind my relation to them both, as well as to the flashes in your macula. One year I worked for Thom’s brother in the rival medical corporation they said they had started, but which in fact was not a medical corporation at all, but a cleverly dammed stream. Whole years passed between the sticks and rocks used to make that dam, and everybody knows that years must pass, and always quickly in the office of a retinal specialist. My own doctor, a gentleman who treats only doctors when he isn’t deconstructing stethoscopes, and who has reversed his name several times, changing it from Dr. Spot to Dr. Tops, then back to Spot, then back to Tops, says that it’s not unusual for big changes to occur in the eye, or even the heart, without any real notice on the part of the patient, until one day everything is noticed, but not as well. What is noticed is that things are not noticed. Everything is the same to one’s eyes, while downstairs, the heart or liver has taken fancy to becoming irregular and no one can see this. If you don’t have the right prescription, you may find yourself wearing two pairs of glasses at once, one for the sun, one for things no longer worthy of attention. At the same time, one may require a second pace-maker and a new liver, neither of which, unless made of origami, are easy to locate beyond South America.

Uninsured Appointment 2

I was called back into a room and asked to sit in the patient chair. “Would you like the footrest down?” Carroll asked while simultaneously swinging it down and bashing my ankles. She asked me questions about my symptoms and I answered as honestly as possible. Then she gave me a small chart with big and small letters, asking me to cover one eye with a masquerade mask that had only one eye hole. She did something to the mask and made pinholes appear all over, then asked me to look through a pinhole to see if it helped. I moved the mask, searching for a good pinhole, but it wasn’t helping. Carroll put some bright yellow numbing drops in my eyes and said, “I’m just going to check your pressure!” I put my chin in the stirrup and pressed my forehead against the strap as she swung around a machine with a fluorescent blue finger, and by what I could tell, proceeded to poke me in the eye. I guess my pressure was good, because then she put three different dilating drops in my eye and led me to the dilating waiting area, where I noticed that everyone else was old. I tried to avoid eye contact with the plump lady across from me, whose cataracts kept staring back. Some 30 minutes later, another woman led me to a different, but identical exam room. “Want the footrest down?” she asked. “No,” I said before she could cross the room. She took my glasses, and in the door walked a blob in a white coat, who shook my hand and made pleasantries while seated on a stool. “Lets make you comfortable,” he said, leaning over to put down the footrest. “Thanks,” I said. Only the nurse and I knew the truth. I was then faceplanted into another contraption and made to look all over. “I think you have MEWDS,” the doctor said. “Could be from a viral infection. I am going to have one of my colleagues take a look.” Off to a another test room wearing the same sort of headgear out of Brazil. A girl took countless photos of my eyeballs, the flash about a half inch from my eyes, and then they wanted to inject me with some orange ink and photo my eyes again, but she couldn’t find a vein. She put a tourniquet on both arms and wrists. “Where’s Sue?” she said. “Sue is good with tiny veins!” Sometime during all this the doctor came in again. “You’re still here?” he asked. He injected me and took a panoramic photo of my eyeball. It was gross. “You have some slight mottling; do you know what that is, like a horse?” After another hour in the geriatric waiting room, I was taken to a new doctor. This time I did not fight the footrest. He told me to focus on the blinking light, which he called Star Wars. My left eye saw a laser light show as the doctor explained that not everything can be explained. Then the nurse came in with a $1,500 bill, saying I was free to go.

Bryson Newhart holds an MFA from Brown. Recent writing has appeared in Harp & Altar, Sein und Werden, Defenestration, 5trope.com, Caketrain, elimae, Tarpaulin Sky, The Dream People, and BDtDaEAtC. Older writing can be found in Taint Magazine, Snow Monkey, 3rd bed issues 5 and 9 (now available through Calamari Press), Failbetter, and others.