Monday was exam day for my eyes. It didn’t go as well as it could have. Not because my eyes did poorly, but because of the body they inhabit. The jerky, constantly moving, speech impaired body that the optometrist was not enlightened to deal with.
She spoke loudly, simply and repetitively as if me being speech impaired also meant I was impaired cognitively. She admonished me for not keeping my head in the correct position and for not opening my eyes for the drops.
It took all I had within me to a) not yell something back at her, and/or b) not burst into tears. I left the office feeling devalued, depreciated, and downright pissed off.
After spending some time ranting with my friends on Facebook and sleeping on it for a few nights, I decided enlightening this otherwise well-educated woman was my role, my duty. Today I picked up my new purple reading glasses and hand delivered the following letter.
October 19, 2012
After my eye exam on Monday, October 15th, I left the office feeling devalued and depleted. I am hoping by sharing the following information, the next exam will go smoother for both of us.
As you might know, I have athetoid cerebral palsy. For me, this means I lack muscle control and coordination. My physical movements are jerky and involuntary; one body part or another is in constant motion. My speech is also significantly impaired, yet can be understood by individuals who take the time to listen.
However, my hearing, understanding and cognition are not affected. There is no need to speak loudly, to repeat yourself or to use simple vocabulary for me to comprehend.
Next time I will grab my iPad from my scooter basket before my scooter is moved out of the way so that I have a more effective means of communication at hand.
My head control is tenuous at times. When conducting the eye pressure test and other such tests during which my head must remain still in a certain position, it might be helpful to have someone hold my head steady.
My eyes closing when something is approaching is a strong, uncontrollable reflex. Repeatedly stating that I need to open my eyes for the eye drops is not productive. Perhaps another method can be found to achieve the same result.
Please keep this letter in my file so that it will be handy for my next appointment in three years, which is what the Ministry will pay for; not the recommended two years. Perhaps in that time you could consult with colleagues and other optometrists for further suggestions on how to best serve patients with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders.
Working together will ensure successful care for my vision.
Glenda Watson HyattIf you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.