My left eye got all red the other day, so I took out my contacts and put on my glasses, despite how boxed in and separated from the world wearing glasses makes me feel. Today my eye was still red, and I guess a whole lot redder, since one of my co-workers actually shrieked when she saw it, so I made an appointment at my eye doctor’s to have it looked at.
Of course I immediately decided that I was being silly, and it would probably go away on its own, but then I recognized that thought as the seriously fucked-up survival instinct of someone who hasn’t had health insurance for ten years. Your favorite medicine very quickly becomes saying “it’ll go away” over and over again.
But I went to my appointment anyway, with fear and trembling, and it turned out to be no big deal, which is good for my eye doctor because if he hadn’t lulled me into a state of calm and relief by telling me it was no big deal, I would probably have ruined his day by responding loudly and belligerently to the next thing he said.
In explaining to me what was wrong with my eye, he went to WebMD on his computer (for real) and called up the definition for an “epischleral” infection. Then he helpfully broke it down for me so that I would know what he was talking about, with all hiz fancy book-learnin’.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a good thing — a very good thing — for doctors to actually explain to patients what they are saying, but it’s poor policy to assume the patient is dumb. Or, in my case, didn’t minor in Greek.
Doctor: The word is EPI… SCHLERA. The word EPI is Latin…
My Brain: No, it’s very much not Latin, it’s Greek…
Doctor: …meaning “part of”
My Brain: No, it doesn’t, it means “over, above, or beside…”
Doctor: …and the SCHLERA, which is VASCULAR TISSUE, meaning BLOOD VESSELS, meaning BLAH BLAH BLAH…
But I was feeling good from his reassurance that the eyedrops I needed were inexpensive, so I said nothing. I also figured that if I was bristling at his condescension (the biggest sin going, in my book), I was just becoming part of the problem if I corrected him. Also, he might then get annoyed and change my prescription to a gallon of eyedrops made of crushed diamonds and dodo eggs.
Listen, Doc, lots of people know big fancy words, scientific ones included, and epi is a pretty damn common prefix, you know? And aren’t there enough idiotic TV series set in hospitals by now that most everyone knows at least vaguely what vascular means? And honestly, if you’re going to instruct me in such an endearing manner, shouldn’t you at least be right?
So I left, filled my prescription (only fifteen bucks!), settled in at home in front of the computer, and comforted myself and my inner language geek by pre-ordering this.